For the past week I have had the troubling sensation of feeling there is a hair in my mouth. Curled around my lip and into the cavernous vortex of my gob, a rogue follicle is rakishly entangling itself in my food until the moment of mastication when it detaches, like a lover who’s just heard their partner utter the phrase “five-year plan” unironically, and evades detection in a manner so skillful, so boldly infuriating that I’m beginning to think it is my own personal poltergeist, sent to terrorise me for my unwitting murder of its brothers in my pre-lockdown chop that felled thousands of the pesky, neck-brushing, shoulder-scratching fuckers. Do hairs have feelings? Is is possible they feel the pull – the rip – of a wax strip even more than I do? Are they equally spasmed in agony at the pluck of a militant tweezers? The thought.
Every bite, every chew, sip, slug, lick has been swiftly followed by a frantic swiping at the right hand corner of my mouth as I gormlessly thrust out my tongue and attempt to scratch the rogue hair from its pimples or grab it from the cranny that is my lip crease. Every delicious morsel of luxurious lockdown snacks – for I no longer have patience for meals and, being honest, I feel we have all realised that snacks are the true hero, the real masterpiece of this interim period – is tainted by the telltale thread of some kinked stubble. It tormented me. Eating lost some – and the some is imperative here – of its appeal.
And then, yesterday morning, as I licked my lips to catch the last remnants of the crumbed toast made gluey and messy by marmalade, I found it. Eyes wide, pupils a dilated black with joy, I paused, the more to savour this divine moment. Like finally finding the itch you couldn’t scratch, like eventually figuring out the song whose one lyric you’ve had relentlessly looped in your head all day, like cracking the final word in the crossword, a moment of pure, undiluted exultation. Of slap-on-the-back pride at your own perseverance, of your dexterous skill, uncanny powers of investigation, deft wrist-work. I imagine it is something akin to the feeling climbers get when they summit Mount Everest. Anyway, I digress.
I held the bugger between thumb and forefinger, eyes bulging and now watering with the anticipation and my desire for delayed gratification. With ragged breath, I took one gulp of an inhale and pulled. The hair didn’t move. Didn’t disengage and slip out for me to curiously examine and then derisively discard. Instead, I felt a twinge in the corner of my upper lip. Strange, I thought, but now blind to anything but catching and extricating the hair from my mouth. I found it, isolated it, once again tugged. Again, I turned up empty-handed. The twinge was sharper this time. And that was when I realised the hair was not IN my mouth it was ON my mouth. Just beside the kiss of my right lip crease, this ginormous monstrosity was hanging out like some lanky, free-love hippie swaying in the breeze.
I was appalled. But also deeply mesmerised, deliciously fascinated by the occurrence. Was this hair an anomaly, a lone wolf who dared to dream and grow where no lip hair had grown before? Had my entire life been a lie and, in the years I have spent priding myself on my lack of facial hair, had I really been the unwitting wearer of an untamable and unignorable lip hat? Was this just an inevitability of my age now – something I incorporated into my corporal routine like trimming my fingernails or washing off make-up? Was finding and then assiduously removing isolated hairs like Daddy Long Legs just a part of the ordeal of being a woman now? And, most importantly, now I had found this hair, what did I plan to do with it?
I ran my tongue along my lipline, felt the pull of it, the tickle of it. Now I knew its origin, removing it suddenly didn’t seem so urgent. Like a cat toying with a mouse complacent in the knowledge of the ending, I wanted to almost enjoy its irritation, its grossness to deepen the pleasure of its execution.
It is now a source of great bemusement and fascination with me. I feel like we understand each other. We might even be becoming friends.
And that, my reader, is what closed pubs and no social outlet bar a stressful four-way Zoom chat will do to a perfectly sane – and hygienic, just to be clear! – woman.
Happy Friday from me, my glass of wine, and my pioneering follicle friend.
I cannot believe I almost forgot to bring back the gratitude bucket list! Have we (me) ever needed more a moment to reflect on some vague positives of this otherwise mildly desolate time? Behold, three things (named tree tings for my UK pals impersonation of the Irish accent I DO NOT HAVE) that have brought me joy this day.
- My mother’s love of Katie Melua. As I write, my mother is in the kitchen, in her pyjamas, lashing on the deep-fat fryer for our Friday night indulgence and blasting “Nine Million Bicycles” on the stereo. I have never seen a love more pure or earnest than that which my mother holds for Katie’s three hit wonders. She once text my dad the entire lyrics (in segments because the character limit was too small) to nine million rothars because Katie’s husky promises of love just sent her to a different dimension. Needless to say, my dad hates Katie Melua. And so, whenever he’s out and evening draws in, my mother will thank the Lord for the day I showed her how to connect her phone via Bluetooth to our speaker and her and Katie have a little slow dance. I hate when people infantilise their parents by saying they’re cute but…it’s really fucking cute.
- The Weakness in Me: I have been listening to this song incessantly for the past three days and am SO glad I have rediscovered its existence. (It’s the song from 10 Things I Hate About You that underscores the montage of Julia Stiles walking around various shops looking wistful while Heath Ledger casually stalks her in a way we’re made to believe is romantic.) Interestingly, I used to hate this song but now? Now it is the perfect accompaniment to the kind of baleful lonesomeness I am occasionally prone to in this second-wave of enforced celibacy.
- Clean pyjamas that are always – always! – tucked in at my bellybutton as if I’m still five-years-old. Yes they are matching and yes I look ADORABLE.