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I like to pluck in my car.

woman looking at rearview mirror

Amy Brenneman: Just this morning the urge overtook me. I sat paused at the stoplight in the warm sunshine, lazily running my hand over my chin. I feel something. My breathing quickens. Do I have time before the light turns green? The light is perfect. No one is looking. And I need it so bad! I can't stop myself. Without taking my eyes off the light, my hand wanders over to where it has wandered so many times before. It knows by instinct, the journey -- the contours of the glove compartment, the efficient click of the lock, the digging beneath unpaid parking tickets. My heart is thumping. Surely the light is going to change. Surely I don't have time to bring myself to satisfaction with the help of my trusted -- there it is, wedged between a pack of gum and an ancient map of Napa -- Tweezerman.

Oh, I'm sorry. Did you think I was talking about something else? That would be PLUCK, you dirty birds, PLUCK in my car. Do you? Do you ever pluck in your car? The light slants in perfectly -- the hairs that would disappear in my bathroom now show up black and bold in my rearview mirror. Tweezerman gets the job done. I pluck and pull, hoping the light stays red. I can't help it -- I have to look down at each hair pulled, amazed that passersby on the street hadn't been laughing and pointing at my crone whiskers. Yes, people, they were that bad.

Years ago, before marriage, children, and a steady gig vacuum-sucked any free time from my life, I was committed to electrolysis. I drove miles from my home to see the lady that didn't hurt me too badly, and we wrestled with the hairs on my moustache (oops, sorry, I don't think we say that anymore -- my "upper lip") for what seemed like months. It helped. We started on my chin when I got a movie in Vancouver, so I have been on my own with my whiskers ever since.

Amy Brenneman

I don't know why I think I'm invisible in my car. It's not like anyone couldn't just look over and observe -- to their horror, no doubt -- a reasonably attractive woman attacking her chin with unbridled pleasure. But some of you would understand. Especially we who descend from Eastern European and Latin countries. Sisters from Lithuania, unite! I had a grandmother from Lithuania, the dearest and the sweetest of women. My mother's mother, I didn't know her well, but her heart was wide and generous and she seemed to possess no vanity whatsoever. Imagine my surprise, then, when at age 90 -- before the stroke that would render her mute for the last four years of her life -- we sat together holding hands. I noticed a long, white hair at the corner of her mouth that drooped all the way to her lower lip. "Grandma, I have hair there too," I say. (We are so fearless at 20.)

She gathered a shaky breath to speak. It took all her effort at that point. "I've always hated," she panted, "those hairs."

Honestly, it was the last clear thing I remember her saying.

Grandma Kate, this pluck's for you.

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43 comments so far | Post a comment now
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