Random questions get asked on my Facebook page. Sometimes, these random questions lead to rather hilarious discussions. One recent one was about Ben’s hairiness level. (Ben has been a pretty common topic of discussion because Imitation & Alchemy will be out the end of this month or beginning of next, if all goes according to plan.)
There were Ben beard questions, which led to chest hair questions, which led to various and often disparate opinions about Ben’s body hair. It got pretty hilarious.
(And yes, my darling guy-readers, many women do have very decided opinions about these things. Unfortunately, there is no concensus, so don’t ask me for advice. I’m as confused as you are.)
For the record, Ben is half Lebanese and half Puerto Rican, so I’ve always assumed in my mental pictures of him that he’s rockin a healthy amount of hair.
Anyway, sometimes these discussions lead to me imagining random scenes for characters as they go about daily life. Clearly, this is not edited, but it made me giggle.
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Without further ado, I give you…
TO BROW, OR NOT TO BROW: An Elemental Conundrum
“Ow. OW!” Ben batted her hand away from his face. “You’re a sadist.”
Tenzin slowly shook her head. “No. I am not. I am deriving no pleasure from this exercise. In fact, I find your whining rather annoying.”
Ben furrowed his brow and tried to hold back the tears stinging his eyes. “Why did I ask you to do this?”
“Because we are stranded in a small village in the middle of the Ukraine, and you are oddly obsessed with your eyebrows.”
“I’m not…” He held up the small hand mirror and reached for the tweezers in her hand. “I’m not obsessed with my eyebrows. I just don’t want a unibrow like my damn father.”
“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you refer to your biological father without using an insult of some kind. Damn father. Asshole father. You can be rather imaginative, but those are the most common epithets.”
“Yeah, there’s a reason for that.” He tried tweezing a few of the stray hairs from between his brows, but gave up after a few minutes. There was a reason he’d dated an aesthetician for six months and stayed friends with her. Kasey took care of him. Or at least she took care of his unibrow.
“Here.” Tenzin held out her hand. “You can’t see well enough in this light. Let me do it. I promise I’ll be gentle since you’re so delicate.”
Ben handed her the tweezers again and closed his eyes. “Fine. When did the manager say the power would be back on?”
“Sometime in the morning, but it would depend on the roads.” Tenzin looked out the dark window. It was pouring rain. “The roads are quite flooded.”
“So… two or three days, probably.”
“I found books for you, didn’t I? You’ll survive without your electronics.”
“Tenzin, the books are in Russian.”
“Well…” She cocked her head, pulled his skin tight, and tweezed. “You should work on your Russian. It’s a very useful language.”
“Such a baby.”
“Kasey uses wax. It’s one quick pull and she’s done.”
“Well, we don’t have wax, except from the candles.”
“I don’t think that kind of wax works.”
She frowned and pulled a few more hairs. “You know, you could always just let it grow. In some Central Asian cultures, a monobrow is considered very attractive in both sexes. For men, it’s a sign of great virility.”
“That’s fascinating, but I live in LA.”
“Is this what the television shows call ‘manscaping?'” Tenzin continued to pluck and pull. “Hair removal is becoming more and more common among Western men. Which only seems fair after the expectation they have placed on women. Do you wax your chest? Some men wax their chest, but you seem to have hair so I don’t think you do.”
“No, I do not wax my chest. Eyebrows are one thing, but I’m not going to wax my chest.”
“But where do you draw the line? I don’t remove any of my hair, but some women remove almost everything. Do you know it’s common among some groups of women to wax their—”
“Stop.” Ben closed his eyes. “Please stop. No more reality shows, Tenzin. They’re warping your brain.”
“So was Shakespeare.”
Tenzin leaned close enough that he could smell the almond oil she used in her hair. He cleared his throat and tried not to squirm.
“Are you almost done?”
“Yes.” She plucked a few more hairs and leaned back to look at him. “Done. No more unibrow. I still think you’re ridiculous. Put honey on that so it doesn’t get infected.” Tenzin always carried honey with her. Raw honey, sometimes still in the comb. She used it for everything.
“I will,” he said, reaching for a cool washcloth.
The room was freezing cold because it was early March and the cheap hotel turned the heat off at ten o’clock. He put the cold cloth on his forehead and promised he’d be better about calling Kasey, even if she did have a new boyfriend who didn’t like him.
Ben reached up and tugged on the end of Tenzin’s hair. “Thanks for making sure I don’t look like a Neanderthal, Tiny.”
“You’re welcome.” She smiled and patted his cheek. “But I only took care of the eyebrows, Benjamin. What are you doing to do about all that back hair?”
Copyright 2016, Elizabeth Hunter