Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Not by the hair of my...

A few months’ back, a friend of mine was trying to describe the degree of closeness she felt for another woman. She flailed a bit, and then said in relief, “Well, she’s my tweezer friend”. I said in a tone which I hope was polite and not just alarmed, “Your what?”

“She and I have an agreement. When we’re old, if one of us is in the hospital and not doing well, the other one will come over and tweeze off the weird facial hairs. Tweezer friend.”

Her tone indicated I had been missing out on universally-known phenomena. Being as "Cluelessly bumbling through life" is both my default setting and my personal fear, I did some research. The first woman I asked knew nothing of this idea, and looked at me if I was trying to lead into a conversation about partner-swapping. My personal dignity had taken a swift kick to the ankles, but at least this tweezer business wasn’t common knowledge. But then I asked a second woman about a tweezer friend, and she nodded vigorously. “Not only do I have a tweezer friend, I have a back-up tweezer friend in case the first one has, you know, already died or can’t see well enough any more.”

Not only do others know about this, they’re buying in bulk? Am I about to find out that they have their own Political Action Committee? Within two days, I found another woman with a tweezer friend and a woman who was currently deciding who to ask. Hearing that, I suddenly felt the same low panic I felt in high school when I found out that prom dates were being nailed down six months’ before the actual dance. Can you be more than one person’s tweezer buddy? Even though I am twenty-five years’ from retirement age, had I waited too long to ask someone, leaving me stuck with the only tweezer buddy with a guide dog?

Mostly, I felt embarrassment. Before she had turned a month old, I had arranged for a guardian for Daughter in the event of our death before she reached majority. Even with my overwhelming love of butter, the odds of my dying before her 18th birthday are very small. And yet I had completely skipped arranging for someone to take care of the excess hair of my dotage. Unsightly hair in old age is a nearly 100% certainty. I imagined myself, old and unconscious, lying in a hospital bed, looking not unlike Rasputin. Invigorated, I started to plan who to ask.

No one seemed to expect their children to be their tweezer wielder, which makes sense; even the best parent/child relationship has moments of high emotion, and who’s to say the child won’t—completely unconsciously, of course – fail to notice that four-inch long white hair protruding from your neck as a way of getting back at you for having to wear anklets to her eighth-grade graduation?

No one was asking their husbands or partners which, again, made sense. Statistically, most men won’t live long enough to be of real help during our twilight years and the mere phrasing of the question takes away what little romance and mystery might be left in even the best relationship. Also, do you want to leave your personal grooming to a man who didn’t notice for nearly two months that you had bangs cut?

No, it has to be a friend. A friend who knows you and loves you, lives fairly nearby and had never voiced any desire to retire to Florida. Unless, of course, you are thinking about retiring to Florida, in which case, you both need to be in agreement about whether it’s to be a Gulf of Mexico retirement or an Atlantic retirement. When you and your tweezer-buddy are eighty, you don’t want her further than a few blocks away. Think how badly you’d feel if your friend mistook the brakes for the gas and ended up in the produce section of the Piggly Wiggly just because your chin felt fuzzy.

And as with everything in my life, I became enthralled with the etiquette niceties. It seemed pretty obvious that if someone asked you to become their tweezer-buddy, she would automatically become yours, but what happens if this dear friend of yours, this otherwise faultless person, has already shown a far looser definition of the words “Sufficiently hair-free” than you do? If she leaves you with a Van Dyke beard, albeit neatly groomed, what have you gained? Can you agree to be her tweezer-buddy with no reciprocity without hurting her feelings? On the other hand, should you go to your friend who is a marvel of personal standards but will probably slip a fifty to a nurse on staff to administer to you the shots of Botox she’s been after you to get for years? I have one friend I know would keep me as sleek as an eel but will have me in highlight foils before the coma reaches its second day.

To sum up, you want someone with exactly your personal standards, who plans to live near you forever and is in good enough health to be available when needed. I had already found the love of my life; it seemed greedy to expect the perfect tweezer-buddy as well.

I asked another friend what, if anything, she had planned. She answered crisply, “I’ve got my godson on it. He’s twenty-three, lives in town, is going to cosmetology school and is queer as a tick, so you know I’ll look good.”

Some women have all the luck.


Blogger Karen of TX said...

My grandmother's tweezer buddy was her daughter and I have to agree; having my daughter as mine casts an unhealthy pall on what is now a loving relationship that only occasionally degenerates into snippiness. Wouldn't want to screw that up. More than I will anyway.

And there's always our friend, laser hair removal. I'm hoping that by the time I'm needing exterior groomage they'll have home kits.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like to think that at a certain point in my life I will give up on glamour and trying to look fabulous all the damn time. I suspect I will have other ailments more pressing than stray chin hairs. My mother apparently, has no intention of ever letting herself go as she has made me promise to be her "tweezer buddy". I'll be glad to do it.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Melodee said...

Oh no. One more thing to worry about. Thank you. Thank you very much.

(What I'd like to know is why the hair on my scalp has the nerve to thin while the hair on my chin has the nerve to sprout?!)

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the white,
almost invisable chin hairs, that you only notice when you strike a
pensive pose(ie; chin on hand)feel
it, get the cut on your hand and then can't see it with the biggest
mirror in the world,tweezer friend must have really really good eyesite.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Man I Love (aka Pookie) comes from a very long lived family and also, he had to hold one of my legs when the stirrup broke on the birthing table as I brought our 5th child into this world.

If we didn't kill the romance with that little incident (and we didn't, if you know what I mean. *wink, wink, nudge nudge*) then I doubt tweezing me when we're elderly will do it in.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

my friend @ work and i had a pact when we sat together. if the paramedics had to come for one of us, the other had to do a quick shave job on the legs and/or pits.

no one's got my back now. and no, my back doesn't need shaving, thankyouverymuch.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

I've got my daughter lined up. She loves to point out my flaws, so I might as well put that to good use.

My mom has Alzheimer's, and I promised I would be her tweezer buddy, but, she's getting sort of feisty about it lately. We have a wedding Friday, so I will need to be ruthless.

I also have a 'journal burning buddy' who is NOT my daughter.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Juno said...

I don't have a tweezer buddy - something to think about for the future, but I DO have an agreement with a friend that should I die unexpectedly, she will remove all, ahem, personal appliances, before my mother or brother has to cope with that particular type of TMI.

7:04 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

Not only have I never heard of this, I can't for the life of me bring myself to care. Of course, I shave when the seasons change as it is, so maybe I'm predisposed toward apathy. And being a massage therapist and seeing people in all states of hairiness also makes one pretty indifferent.

But basically, if I reach a point where I'm incapable of managing my own personal hygeine, I've got bigger fish to fry than chin hairs and at that point living my actual remaining life to its fullest is far more precious than catering to anyone's shallow impression of me. And anyone who *is* bothered by my beard is totally missing the point & is therefore unlikely to be at my bedside anyway.

If I'm going to have a buddy, I want it to be someone who will come to my bed and read to me, or describe what it's like outside, or rub my feet, or make me laugh - even if it's just about my resemblance to Jerry Garcia.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Xinh said...

I guess to a woman, a Tweezer Buddy is like the Porn Buddy to a man (Porn Buddy being the guy who will go to your place if you die suddenly to remove all the porn so that anyone going through your effects won't be shocked).

I wish I had a Tweezer Buddy when I was in the hospital. My eyebrows and upper lip were crazy when I was finally able to go home.

12:37 PM  
Blogger houseband00 said...

In a way, I was my wife's "tweezer buddy." I was tasked to do a lot of small things a husband wouldn't normally do for his wife but I thought: it was the least I could do.

Thanks for reminding me, Quinn. =)

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was my little ole mama's tweezer buddy long before this - I am 56 and she died last year at 86. I think I had been her tweezer buddy from early on - perhaps while I was still in high school. She had problems seeing those "little boogers" ('scuse me, but we called them that) up close in the bathroom mirror (where the light is always best - that or a dressing room in a department store which is too late). Thus, she would ask me to "do the honors" and help her out. I thought it was sooooo sooo very gross at the time but since I loved her and she had done so much for me - what the heck. She'd wiped my butt!
Every time I went to visit her in her much later years, beauty time was first and foremost before anything else. She had always "hounded" my dad about his ears. She was just appalled when "it" started happening to her. We would laugh and tease during the entire process.
And she would always get that quirky smile on her face and thank me profusely!
Well worth the effort.
Know that I already have my tweezer buddy (and backup) selected. I had a hip replacement a few years back and my buddy had to shave my legs and "do" my toenails since I could not bend down for awhile. "That's what friends are for."
The things we do for love!
~Madelyn in Alabama

7:52 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

OK...this? Is something I've never considered. It never occurred to me to prepare for disability and/or sickness and/or old age in this way. But I NEED to! OMG! I have about three places on my chin where coarse, sharp, black hairs grow. I have to pluck them out about every third day or so. If I don't find someone to be my tweeze buddy those suckers will impale somebody! AGH! Seriously though...great blog! You Rock

5:32 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

Oh, yes, I have several tweezer buddies lined up in case of an extended hospital visit. It is too far out to plan for retirement, in my opinion, but one never knows when one might be incapacitated for a short period. And, I want to look good for the people that come to bring all the flowers and cards!! I currently tweeze daily, so I thought I might need more than one buddy to, you know, spread the love around!

: )

2:49 PM  
Blogger Cecile Bosman said...

Pah! I sneer at tweezers - they're such picky little eaters. Post-cataract surgery, I needed something with the mouthspan of a Cheshire Cat. I found it at the hardware store: one of those "flappy" hinges; one is guaranteed a mouthful every bite.

(And in the case of a plucky-buddy-break up, you can plead beseechingly: "Don't go...I'll be left unhinged [sniff]")

2:05 PM  

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