The Art of Deliberate Imperfection

My eyebrows are my spirit line

Squinty eyes.

I have always had squinty eyes with droopy eyelids. They have not made me famous the way Renee Zellweger’s eyes made her famous.

They haven’t even been functional – I didn’t get glasses until I was in fifth grade but undoubtedly needed them well before that, if I can blame my complete lack of hand/eye coordination on anything and yes, I am seeking an excuse for my total lack of athletic ability.

I was always picked last for any team at school and I guess I can’t blame the other kids. I can’t hit a ball. I mean, I can. I did hit a baseball. Once. It was after it had passed the bat, so I hit it into my chest instead of away from me.

I think being able to see the ball before it actually is in front of you is probably essential for doing well in sports that are played with a ball.

I have squinty eyes with droopy eyelids. I thought this was just going to be how my life was. It never occurred to me that this was something that could be altered.

Then I learned that a surgery exists – a surgery to lift the eyelids discreetly so they don’t flop over the eyes.

Not only does this surgery exist but my mother had it.

My mother, whose physical clone I am.

(There are those who say I have inherited certain tendancies of hers as well. When my former boyfriend, John, met my mom, her sister, and my sister, he commented dryly that it wasn’t that the apple had not fallen far from the tree, it was that the tree had placed the apple exactly where it wanted the apple to be.)

(He was right.)

My mother is 20 years and eight months older than I am.

Which means that 20 years and eight months after she had her surgery, I could expect my eyelids to look like hers the day before she had the surgery.

Which suggested to me that if I was going to have to have the surgery anyhow – hers was covered by insurance because the droopiness was affecting her vision, I might as well have it when I could benefit professionally or at least, you know, assuage my vanity.

Although the reason I said out loud was because younger skin heals faster than older skin so I Might As Well, which sounds a lot less vain than, “I don’t like looking so old.”

I asked around and did some research and found the local doc who is known for this and made an appointment for a consult.

He was not exactly oozing with bedside manner, but I suppose if I have to choose competence or choose charming, I will pick competence.

He looked at my droopy eyelids and asked me a few questions and answered my questions impatiently and then we were done and I went into the waiting room to wait for some coordinator to tell me more about costs and scheduling, which is the business model I would use: why waste a doctor’s time talking about the money when you could pay someone ten percent of what the doc makes for that work?

I was drumming my fingers on the chair and thumbing through my phone, annoyed at having to wait, when he ran out of his office and into the waiting room.

“I almost forgot!” he announced. “When I do your eyes, I can also adjust your eyebrow!”

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Your eyebrow! Your left eyebrow! It’s crooked!”


“What are you talking about?”

He turned and grabbed a hand mirror and held it to my face. “Here,” he pointed. “Don’t you see how your eyebrows don’t match?”

Me and my emerging asymmetrical eyebrows before glasses.

Um. No. I didn’t.

I squinted and looked more closely. Oh yeah! My eyebrows don’t match! They are not symmetrical. One has a more pronounced arch than the other.

I had honestly never noticed in my entire life.

Is that a thing? I mean, should I have noticed that my eyebrows are not perfectly symmetrical? I had never even known to look for that.

Every now and then it would bother me slightly that my glasses seemed crooked. I always assumed it was because my ears weren’t even with each other.

It was probably because my eyebrows are asymmetrical.

I guess I am kind of oblivious.

The next week, I saw my aunt Pat at my great-uncle Fritz’s funeral. Uncle Fritz was my great-aunt Helen’s husband. Aunt Helen was my grandma Sylvia’s sister.

Pat is a nurse and I told her about this doctor and that I was maybe thinking about having the surgery but was conflicted because the local anesthesia in the office method was not an option because I had told the doctor I am A Fainter and fainting people have to have the procedure done at the hospital, which costs about a thousand dollars more and I paid only $1,200 for my first car and was I going to pay as much for only part of a surgery as I paid for a car? Was I going to pay $6,000 total for a surgery? That’s more than I paid for my master’s degree.

Then I told her what he had said about my eyebrow.

“You can’t change your eyebrows!” she gasped. “That’s your Granma Sylvia eyebrow! Your eyebrows are just like hers and like Aunt Helen’s and your dad’s! That’s a part of you!”

I looked around. I looked at my dad’s brothers. I looked at my aunt Helen. I looked at her two sons, my first cousins once removed? My second cousins? My – well, my dad’s cousins.

I looked at my dad’s cousins’ kids.

We all had that eyebrow. Just a tiny little extra arch on the one. Just a tiny bit of unevenness. Just a bit that tied us together.

Nah. I don’t need that fixed.

My dad, growing into his uneven eyebrows.





2 thoughts on “The Art of Deliberate Imperfection

  1. Good call. That’s what eyebrow pencils are for. You can probably do a little filling here and there with a pencil and create a match … easy peasy!


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