Somehow, and there is no point in even checking why, my mind of memories takes me to a time I was sitting in Peter’s Holden Kingswood in the front bucket seat on the passenger side. Peter was my boyfriend at the time. We were driving up the coast road, north of Brisbane to the Noosa area for a day at the beach. I was a teenager and in the back seat were our friends Fred and Linda. We did a lot together at the time and enjoyed each other’s company. Peter, Linda and I were smokers. I was sticking to the seats; it was a hot day and the car did not have air conditioning. The windows were down. I was lighting a cigarette and somehow (once again; who can explain some things that happen?) I set my face on fire. I was alight when I felt the slap on my face. Peter leaned over and started whacking me frantically on the head. I was still a little confused as to what was happening. Had I done something wrong or was I on fire? I was on fire; okay, that established, I can panic. As soon as I start panicking, I lose the ability to do anything else but panic. In that way I am like my Mother. I seem to lose all function of my brain. I let Peter whack me about until I was out.
It was hours later before I smelt the smell of burnt hair and skin. Maybe my nose had shut down with my brain when the panic button had been hit. I am sure the others smelt it within seconds. The windows were kept down. I could not wait to get into the surf that day.
Peter was driving with one hand at one stage. I have an image in my mind of memories of looking over at him to see how he was driving and dealing with me on fire as well. Dual control.
Once I was “put out” it was time to survey the damage – and laugh. To be honest, that day I did not feel much like laughing. I had lost one eyebrow and one set of eyelashes completely. My Mum and Dad had no idea I smoked. How was I going to explain losing an eyebrow and an eyelash while at the beach for the day?
Part of my fringe was gone as well. Fred was maniacally laughing his way to self-induced committal in the back seat. Linda tried to be supportive, but she too succumbed to fits of the giggles. Her comical effort to restrain laughter almost made me laugh. Almost.
You know how these cringeworthy moments burn so easily into your fragile teenage psyche? This incident was just one of my embarrassing moments. My fringe, eyebrow and eyelashes had to grow back. I had to face embarrassing weeks to endure “this incident”.
All this talk of “the moment” we hear now; really it is rarely a moment. It can be weeks, months and years.
I have one more eyebrow story in my mind of memories. God only knows how I link these topics. Alphabetically? A few years ago, while interstate I started getting my fair eyebrows tinted and was impressed with the results. When I returned home I went to my usual salon and added a regular eyebrow tint to my list of package maintenance. I like to think of my outer skin as being my packaging. I am somewhere underneath the packaging. It helps me to remember that we are not what we look like – in the beauty industry people come and go and this day I had a newbie. The newbie girl suggested I get my eyebrows waxed. I said I was getting them tinted because they were so fair I could not see them so did she think I needed them waxed? “Yes,” she said with such confidence I agreed to get them waxed.
Then she tinted them. When I came out of the shower the next morning, my husband took one look at me before blurting: “What the hell happened to your eyebrow?” Tripping over my feet to get to the mirror, I was shocked to discover a huge chunk was missing from one eyebrow. Clearly the over-zealous newbie had dripped some wax right in the middle of my brow and tinted over the offending bare patch! Sadly, her camouflage attempt lasted only as long as the next wash.
My first thought, beyond one four-letter word, was that if my husband of 30 years had noticed this, so would the rest of the world.
Yeah, life is just like that. Indubitably.
Copyright © Mary Willetts 2012