Wednesday, August 20, 2014


In my adolescence, I dedicated much thought and consideration to the hair growing on my body -- or, more accurately, the hair not growing on my body. It's all so trivial now, but as a freshman in high school who would occasionally get teased for my lack of leg hair (although the teasing never approached anything that could today be considered or thought of as bullying), I wondered if I would go through life always with the glabrous legs of an Olympic swimmer. I imagine that many virgins feel the same way about their prospect of ever having sex. I know I did.

As Goethe said (and which numerous episodes of The Twilight Zone confirm), "Be careful what you wish for." By the time I was nearing adulthood, my legs were almost as shaggy as an English Terrier's. (I'm exaggerating, of course, but not by much.) If it weren't against the social norm, I could wear shorts in winter and stay warm. Conversely, wearing jeans in summer is something I religiously avoid, because why wear denim when I already have enough of a problem with the Yeti fur grafted to my lower extremities? Whenever I look at my legs, I'm reminded of a quaint Canadian film from the 80s called The Peanut Butter Solution. I was seven years old when I watched it. I suppose, in a way, that it was a prophecy.

In general, kids are pretty clueless, right? And I don't mean that in a condescending way; they just don't have the life experience or wisdom that comes from growing older. I wouldn't scoff at a ten-year-old and say, "What the fuck do you mean you've never read The Sun Also Rises?" In the same way, I don't begrudge a kid if I see him picking his nose in a supermarket or grabbing at his crotch because he has to pee. You figure that shit out later, hopefully.

Life is not without its share of cruel jokes -- a buxom woman gets breast cancer; a hirsute man's hair falls out from chemotherapy; the second pick in the 1986 NBA draft dies two days later from a cocaine overdose -- and ironic realities. So far, I've largely avoided both, but time is patient. It always will be.

Some years ago, a friend pointed out to me that I had an abnormally long eyebrow hair growing over my left eye. Embarrassed, I tried to pluck it out, which hurt like a motherfucker and made my eyes water. He plucked it out for me. It's easier to receive pain than to inflict it on yourself. Try breaking up with a gorgeous woman versus having her break up with you if you don't believe me.

That lone-wolf eyebrow hair, that ronin, however, would always come back, like a curry burp. Months would go by, and then one day I'd look at myself in the mirror and see it working its way out again, trying to outpace its brethren, to grow longer than them, to what ultimate purpose I didn't know, and still don't.

I eventually found myself starting to care for it. It was, after all, a part of me, and its -- no, his -- constant rebirth and Herculean growth affected me. I'm not delusional; I know that a hair growing on my eyebrow has no sentience...but isn't it pretty to think so?

I never gave him a name (because I'm not that weird), and I suppose I was too rough on him those first few years, twirling him between my thumb and forefinger when lost in thought until he broke, like a kid picking his nose in a supermarket. I was truly sorry when that happened, and sad that I'd have to wait months for his return.

But return he did. And he still does. I've experienced some tumult over the past decade, nothing too major in the overall scheme of things, but nonetheless stressful, and it's always nice to know that I have a constant, something to have with me when I'm otherwise feeling alone.

He's looking a little haggard these days, though. While brushing my teeth this morning, I noticed that he's curled back around on himself, like an Ouroboros. Maybe he'll fall out soon, like leaves in autumn.

If so, I hope he comes back again. Like cherry blossoms in spring.


There are more terrible things than can grow on a person's body than a single rogue hair. A single lone-wolf cell, a ronin, for one.

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