"So what do you write about?" she asked.
"Mostly autobiographical stuff" was my cagey response.
She paused, looking at me, and I could see her opinion forming in real time. "So you write about yourself?"
It wasn't really a question. I mean, it was, but she just wanted me to confirm that I was really that self-centered. I should've said short stories, but I hadn't been in the mood to get into any specifics. Not cagey enough. I smiled and said, "Yeah."
She nodded, taking it in. She was just an acquaintance, but I could tell I'd gotten another loser strike, my second in this encounter and third overall.
Not long after that, I found myself calmly stating, "I know. I should be ambitious and motivated and more together than I am," even though I wasn't responding to something she'd said.
She just smiled at me neutrally. The mild loser judgment vibes I was sensing from her highlighted the need for change in my life that I feel. I just don't know what to do next right now, not that that ever seems to change.
She looked at me for a moment and said, "Do you do your eyebrows yourself?"
The question caught me off-guard. The last time someone had asked about my eyebrows, I'd been shamed by him. I thought of the few stray hairs below my right eyebrow. If I plucked those, it would perfect the line, but in doing so, my whole right eyebrow would look unbalanced with the left one. Every time I get out of the shower lately, I consider those few plucks on the right but decide against them because I know I'd have to go to town on the left which would hurt like a motherfucker.
I looked at her warily and said, "Why?"
"Because the curve is just right."
"Oh," I was really surprised by her compliment. "Thank you. It's just the last time someone commented on my eyebrows, I was in San Francisco; I was with a friend of mine at a friend of hers', this gay guy, and he took one look at my eyebrows and said, 'We've gotta take care of that.'" I tipped my head back and mimed the motion of him plucking my eyebrows.
For a second, shock registered on her face. Then she said, "I was just going to ask where you get them done. They're perfect."
"Thank you very much." I meant it: "perfect" has to be about the nicest thing you can say to a perfectionist. "I don't go anywhere."
"But do you pluck or tweeze?"
"Yeah, a little bit."
"Everyone says mine are too thin."
"But that's the fashion. Everyone on film or TV has thin eyebrows. If it didn't hurt so much, I'd thin mine out."
"Do your glasses cover them?"
I didn't know offhand, so I pulled my sunglasses off my head and put them on.
"Nope," she said.
I pushed them up again. "That's probably because I raise my eyebrows a lot."
She misunderstood what I was getting at and said, "No, they're perfect."
Regarding myself in the mirror with 20/15 vision, I'm acutely aware that my eyebrows are imperfect. Stray hairs break the curves, and another spot is a bit overplucked while overall they are quite a bit thicker than all the women's eyebrows I see in media. But to an acquaintance a few feet away not engaging the personal eye of scrutiny, they were perfect. I thanked her again and made a mental note not to view them so critically.
A year ago on TTaT: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood..., Rhubarb 2!