Monday, September 29, 2008


Who of my generation can't remember these eyebrows? Yes, they belonged to John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Worker's Union. In my childhood his face (and his magnificent eyebrows) appeared so often in the newspapers that their image is imprinted on my brain. Obviously I didn't know much about the fellow, as I was an elementary school student during the 1940s when Lewis was active in newsmaking. But I'm sure the only reason I remembered him is because of these eyebrows, long and hairy and undisciplined and apparently untended.

Now all this is to say that I looked in the mirror this morning upon arising and found myself growing John L. Lewis eyebrows. Oh, I try to keep them under control, snipping here, pulling there, combing, geling, brushing, all accompanied by great gnashing of teeth as I wonder why in my old age I have to be going bald but yet growing John L. Lewis eyebrows in spite of my best ministrations!

And just for the record, since I know you will want to know this, my eyebrows refuse to turn grey like my hair, instead being black -- which wasn't the color of my own hair even in its heyday. (Except once in a dream I looked in a mirror and noticed that I had long black hair, which startled me enough to wake me up!)

There are just things about aging that I don't understand. I won't go into the details about chin hairs, which I used to be able to cajole my lovely daughters into plucking out for me. Now my presbyopic eyes can't even see them, although my arthritic fingers can feel them. Oh dear, so many things to try to tame as we get of an age.

The last thing I want to say about my personal eyebrows is that at one time I had a small growth in one and the doctor made a tiny little slit to remove a cyst or whever it was. This doc was a surgeon and when I asked him if I was going to have a big gap in my brow, he said no one would ever know that anything had been removed. "I am a good surgeon," he said huffily. "You will have no problems." Well, I am sure the doctor would be able to remember his handiwork now (if I could remember who he was) if I sent him a picture of my left eyebrow laterally ruptured in the middle with a neat but totally hairless white gap that refuses to accept eyebrow pencil color. The only thing that mitigates this catastrophe is that this scar almost matches the lateral scar I have on the bridge of my nose from a cat's claw (another story altogether).

Ah well, there are not beauty pageants to worry about, or finding spouses, or being photogenic....all those things that cause consternation when one is young and upcoming. To that extent, age may be a blessing but it is still a pain in the ass. Who wants John L. Lewis eyebrows at any age?!

So I do what I can do -- snip, comb, pluck, gel, brush -- and figure that at least I am alive to face another day, eyebrows and all.

Now so as not to slight John L. Lewis, who may be rolling in his grave to have only his eyebrows considered, here is the man full blown.

You can find a bio on his very interesting life (if you think labor union development is interesting - and I do) here :

And finally, just to let other generations see that these eyebrows weren't a one-in-a-lifetime appearance, here's a caricature that you are sure to recognize

Yes, it is CBS's Andy Rooney, who seems to have the same problem as I have!

I could not find the name of the artist who drew this caricature so I could give him credit; but I certainly do think he has the right touch, don't you?

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