Stop with the eyebrows already

Am I the only one who thinks it’s strange to live in a world where bookstores and newspapers can’t stay open,  but there’s an entire storefront in the mall dedicated to eyebrow threading?

Everyone I know loves bookstores and libraries, and they don’t just go there to drink coffee, hang out, or take up space. They go to get books and read them.

Almost everyone I know, including the most jaded, streetwise teens, can talk nostalgically about a book someone read to them when they were young or a favorite story they’ll never forget. At the school where I work, a lot of kids would rather have a pass to the library than a chocolate bar.

But never have I ever heard someone say they really needed to go and have their eyebrows threaded.

I can understand eyebrow grooming as one of many services at a salon, but a whole store dedicated to it?  

Certainly, eyebrow drama is on the rise. I would go so far as to say the werewolf look is trending. It is getting ridiculous, as are all these cauliflower recipes.

Who is going to put cauliflower in a food processor to make pizza crust? That is just too much to ask.

The next thing you know, we’ll have a stand in the mall selling pretzels made out of cauliflower dough for $10 each, but if you want a book made out of paper, or a newspaper, you’ll have to order it online or drive to Washington.

Day trips to Washington for books will become a thing, kind of like going to Trader Joe’s. People with eyebrows that have been carefully threaded away, then painted back on in deeper, richer color, will gather in the early morning hours carrying canvas totes with quotes from classic novels printed on them. They will load into their hybrid vehicles and make the trek to someplace where there are enough humans to support the sale and consumption of printed media, someplace with tall buildings and escalators.

Strange. Not quite dystopian, but not right, either.

Of course, there’s plenty of dystopia to go around. The one valid argument against reading the news may be that it’s too depressing.

Personally, I just read a poem to a lizard. I’m very worried about her because she won’t open her eyes or eat. My son doesn’t like when I write about his animals because he feels it’s an invasion of his privacy or their privacy, and I see what he means. Plus, when you write about something, there’s a strange karma that comes with it. You can jinx a good thing or in a sense make something real when you don’t quite want it to be. I guess it is like that with any way of documenting your life. That’s why I rarely post selfies with my students. I’ve learned the hard way to be superstitious.

I found a dead baby bird on the street the other day while I was taking a walk. He had probably fallen out of his nest the night before during the big hail storm. I was so tired that I couldn’t really muster the proper emotion or reverence for a dead baby bird who died in an ice storm. All I could do was wrap him in a leaf, feeling the weight and volume of his small body as I laid it in the grass.

There is something about birds that we take very seriously. We believe they are symbolic harbingers of something, and of course, they are. A 9th grader in one of my classes last semester wrote an essay about how he stopped believing in God because of a dead baby bird.

On a lighter but semantically related note, I spent several hours last night making cupcakes and icing with a recipe for Hummingbird Cake because I read a story that said it was popular in 1978 – the year I was born. I followed the recipe carefully and it turned out OK, not as good as it should have been for the effort, but certainly better than if I’d put cauliflower in it.


How to be a fairy godmother

It takes a very long time to write a good story, unless you have a fairy godmother. Unlike the ones in the old stories, fairy godmothers do not all have wings, but they do have magic. The best fairy godmothers tell you fairy tales, but unlike the fairy tales in the newest movies, not all of them have happy endings.

There was the one about a rabbit who was turned into a goon.

Sometimes fairy godmothers wear red lipstick and nailpolish. They can have shiny black hair that they wear in long braids or they can have chin-length hair and blue jeans.

You might say you are frustrated, and they will tell you that you are smart just for knowing it.

Fairy godmothers will paint your fingernails red if that is what you would like, but they might tell you that you should clean your nails first if they are very dirty. Sometimes fairy godmothers will dress you up like a doll and take photographs.

Some fairy godmothers play the piano. They could teach you how to play the piano, but you might lack the temperament for that particular discipline. You might lack the dedication or maybe you just don’t have an ear for music. Whatever the case, a fairy godmother will stay up late with you and listen to one of your stories, about how you are the singer in a band and you write your own songs and your friend is the bass player, which is basically nonsense, of course, a child’s fantasy.

Fairy godmothers don’t always tell you when you are wrong, except when you are very, very rude. You might be very, very rude because you don’t know any better. Maybe it is because you went into a store and a lady at the counter asked you what you wanted. You reply with one word, which is “gum” because you only wanted gum. You should have said something like, “I would like a pack of gum, please. Could you direct me to the gum?”

We always think fairy godmothers are single, but they can get married. Don’t worry if they get married; it isn’t the end. Or maybe it is a happy ending because you will get to wear a pretty dress and talk about babies. Cream-colored dresses look nice with red lipstick, even though you are too young for red lipstick. Babies in children’s books are like aliens. You are too young for a baby, so you get a weasel instead.

Weasels are a lot of work, but not as much work as babies. If your fairy godmother has a baby, she will not keep it in a cage. She will let it walk around and poop in diapers. She will tell you that she no longer has a clue what is in her closet because what she thinks about now is mostly the baby who walks around and poops in diapers. But she still cares about you, too.

Your pet weasel doesn’t live in a cage, either, although maybe she should. She sleeps in your bed and poops in the corners of your house. She poops in the dark corners of your closet, but you won’t know this until 20 years later, when you are cleaning out the closet after your brother died in that bedroom, and long since the weasel ran away. You certainly didn’t stop thinking about the clothes in your closet long enough to raise a weasel. And besides, weasels have their own dreams to live out.

Weasels and goats are like geese, boys, and men. Sometimes they run away. They teach you responsibility, lessons about who to trust. And they make good characters in stories, especially fairy tales, because in fairy tales they can talk, but they can’t always be trusted. And in real life animals can’t always be trusted. You’re better off trusting your fairy godmother than an animal, in real life. You can believe what she says, because remember, she did tell you the truth about your dirty fingernails. If an animal talks to you in real life, he is just going to tell you that you are an idiot, and he isn’t going to help you with your housework after all. If an animal talks to you in real life, he will be very condescending. He will ask you where you ever got the idea that you were a princess in a fairy tale and he might ask if you have taken your medicine recently.

In real life you might wish you were a princess marrying a prince, but perhaps you are just a goat girl marrying a squirrel hunter on the first day of squirrel season.

You should probably be grateful that anyone attended your wedding considering the fact that you served cold miniature quiches instead of squirrel gravy at your wedding reception. You are just grateful that your fairy godmother was there with your mother and bougainvilleas because the flowers are a nice distraction for your wedding guests once they run out of beer and wine.

People say things like, “What a blessing flowers are.”

Now you are an adult. Your fairy godmother will give you a book of affirmations. You should keep it by your bed so that it doesn’t get lost because you will want it someday. You will need these affirmations on those days when you no longer believe in fairy tales.

You can talk to your fairy godmother, even when she isn’t there, because you know what she would say. She would say that you are so exceptional and wonderful and you will need those affirmations even when they are no longer true. Even though they were never true of you. They were true of her. But you believed because she said it, and sometimes you just need an affirmation, a validation.

And then even when your body aches and the talking mirror tells you to go back to bed, you will not be afraid that you have become a wicked witch, an evil stepmother. You will know that a good story can be happy or sad, depending on how and where you end it. Stories about talking animals, beautiful princesses, and fairy godmothers may not be the whole story or the real story, but they are the ones you choose to tell. You know the best fairy godmothers do not have wings.

And the best stories have no endings at all.