From God Loves Hair. Published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2014.
I learn a lot about how to be a boy from my brother and the lessons he learns in school. Not in the classroom but in the gym change room. Lessons I miss because I change in the corner, facing the teal-tiled wall, so that no one can accuse me of a wandering eye. I listen intently as he tells me how the boys discuss the pros and cons of shaving their pubic hair and other regions of their body. Girls don’t like hairy. He even purchases his own trimmer. I hear a sharp buzzing coming from the washroom as he mows down his legs and chest. But I am in no hurry to follow his lead. No one is going to see me naked anytime soon. I am more preoccupied with eyebrows.
I’ve watched my mother pluck her eyebrows hundreds of times. Whenever she is in the washroom, she is armed with tweezers and concentrating on her reflection. Once she spots where to strike, her hand lifts mechanically, tweezers tighten, and she precisely pulls the bad hair from its root. Her mind is somewhere far away. She is calm, comforted that there are things, however small, that can be removed, that can be changed. When she is summoned back by the sound of the garage door opening or remembers that she has to drive my brother to basketball practice, she puts down the tweezers and pencils thin almond-brown arches over the surviving hairs.
My own eyebrows look like a variation of Bert’s from Sesame Street, two furry caterpillars forever headlining my face. So I pluck. And pluck. It’s hard to stop. My face is changing, my eyes seem to be getting bigger and brighter, my face narrower. People say tweezing hurts, but I like the pain. Like when you floss your teeth for the first time in three weeks. I try to reciprocate with my brother, imparting to him my new lesson. He is surprisingly dubious.
When my mom tires of me constantly borrowing hers, we head down to Zellers where she buys my first pair of tweezers. She splurges on the fancy gold-plated ones. She hands them to me in the parking lot. Thanks, Mom. This passing of the torch has to be a sign. A sign that she knows my secret and loves me just the same.