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To My Beloved Eyebrow Technician

A pandemic love letter.

Dearest Alyson*,

I hope this blog post finds you well, in good health and high hopes. How are you, my kind eyebrow technician? How have the last two months under stay-at-home orders treated you? The last time I saw you was March 10. What did we even talk about then? My job? Your DIY home renovations? We shuffle through so many topics in the 20 minutes that you wax and rip out and pluck at my eyebrows. Maybe we were still talking about impeachment back then? Or the primary elections? I know you had asked about my job, and seemed to be under the impression that I had just taken it. I’d been working a new gig for three months by then, but you have lots of clients. I can’t expect you to remember all the details of my work. Or maybe you felt like it was just yesterday when I mentioned I was laid off amid our small talk. Time blurs together for me, too.

You probably haven’t heard much about this, but the journalism industry is burning to the ground. First the local papers partially furloughed their employees, then the digital publications, then the papers laid people off, then the digital outlets. (Including today.) I thought I’d feel a little safer again when I got some freelance work, but there is no such thing as safety in this industry. I am heartbroken for the people who’ve been let go. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to just leave it behind. It’s difficult to want to stay in a profession that has never tried that hard to make you stay.

How is your work situation? I remember in mid-March you texted me to say our April appointment had to be rescheduled because your employer was shuttering, and that you’d contact me to reschedule once you reopened. Did that end up happening? Were you furloughed and able to collect unemployment? Did you get laid off, and that’s why I haven’t heard from you? By chance, did you contract the virus? I haven’t tried to call the store, primarily because I haven’t been planning on seeing you, even though my brows are in need of a drastic reshaping. They look like if you stopped playing Animal Crossing for two months and weeds sprouted up around the corners of your property.

But yes, my plans for a wax are on pause, indefinitely, not only because I’m trying to keep my boyfriend safe, and there’s no such thing as social distancing during an eyebrow wax, and I absolutely do not want to be one of the people trying to get you to go back to work when you shouldn’t be, but also because I’m not looking to stun anyone with my defined brows anytime soon. (I even waited two months to shave my baby mustache hairs; they grew out to be quite impressive, my boyfriend says.) Our summer plans changed — the graduation we were attending got canceled, and the summer wedding we were traveling up the West Coast for got pushed back an entire year.

I miss looking at my social schedule and planning our next brow appointments around it. Your talent and attention to detail has carried my face through dates and weddings and family celebrations. I can’t be trusted to shape my own eyebrows, I know, but I’ve stopped the panic plucking to clean them up. I’ve even stopped pulling out the stray hairs in between my brows. I suppose they seem far less attention-grabbing than then the bushel of hairs feathering out across the hollows of my eyes and up into my hairline.

I’ve never told you this, but I always thought my eyebrows were my best feature, even more than my curly hair. My hair is pretty but high-maintenance; I could have a good three weeks of killer brows with your talent and just a pinch of brow gel. Even as I gained weight and grew self-conscious about the rest of my body, I still had, and had control over, my brows. Other brow technicians have burned me before, badly. The worst was a younger woman who might’ve been new to the job. I could tell things were headed south when she kept plucking and retreating, plucking and comparing the two sides of my face, evening them out as she kept taking off more and more. I freaked out when I got home, sending devastated Snapchats to friends, who cooed at me and consoled me that they looked great. Alyson, they did not look great.

The next time I met with another eyebrow technician, the damage was still there. She put me on a whole regrowth and reshaping plan, and months later they were eventually back. Recovered, but not the same as they were before. Sisters, but twins nevermore. And then that eyebrow technician moved away. I liked the woman who replaced her, but then I moved, and I needed to find someone who I could trust without driving 15 miles out of the way. And then I found you! You’ve been so kind to my brows. You’ve given them the TLC they needed and now I can’t imagine going to anyone else. But we all move on to the next thing, eventually. I wonder if this quarantine has been that break, or if I’ll ever see you again.

I’m sorry I haven’t checked in on you. You clearly matter a great deal to me, even though we’ve never really had that kind of relationship. During my monthly 20 minutes I’ll ask you about your home renovations and you’ll ask me about my job, and we might talk politics, but mostly we talk about our families and what’s changed over the past month. What has changed with you, Alyson? Are you OK? How is your family doing? Is your boyfriend still working? Are you OK? Everyone said it’s helpful to buy gift cards from our favorite shops, restaurants and services, but you work for a contracted company inside one of those corporate beauty supply stores, so I had my doubts that a gift card purchase would help you specifically. Do you have a Venmo? I should have asked you this months ago. When I texted you back you didn’t respond, but I should have tried to ask anyway.

I hope you’re doing better than I suspect, and that you’re OK, and that you’re not having to risk your life going back to work because the assholes who run our state can’t be bothered to protect people from catching the coronavirus. I hope you’re getting unemployment, and money from the CARES Act, and that your housing is secure. I hope the people you love are OK. I hope you’re staying safe and that the people around you are staying safe. I’m not sure when I’ll next see you, if I ever do. But I’m thinking of you, and I hope that you’re in good health and spirits, and that the world has been kind to you and your family, at the very least.

Until then,
Sam

*A pseudonym

Images via orlandolover06/YouTube, Remix by Samantha Grasso