A woman across the aisle and one seat ahead of me on the Metra train from the suburbs into Chicago was telling her friends about recently tattooing her eyebrows. She pointed to her brows’ exquisite arch and fullness. As she described the aesthetician drawing every brow hair I rolled my inner eyes and felt entirely inadequate. I hadn’t showered. My face was naked as a baby’s bottom but not nearly as smooth. I could feel a stress zit popping out on my right nostril and knew that a lighted mirror would reveal pours big enough to swim in. The bounce of Eyebrow’s leopard print hair scarf made me acutely aware of my upper arms. I tried to remember if I had put on deodorant.
Eyebrow was surrounded a swarm of young women heading to a party, to fun, to an adventure together. Their French tip manicures fluttered in the air, their perfectly white teeth flashed and the sun glinted off their lip gloss. They all drank white wine out of cans. I wondered where they learned all that, all that art of being female.
I glanced down at my chipped pedicure and calloused heals. I pulled my sweater to hide my paunch. The salad I made for the party had leaked all over the inside of my backpack. Eyebrow was the queen bee of a girls’ night out. I would walk into a room of friends and strangers alone, again, and would want to leave as soon as I arrived.
One of the swarm made a joke and Eyebrow kicked up her right foot in glee. I saw a flash of white on the sole of her stylish platform sandal. It was a perfectly square sticker, a price tag from a discount shoe place, from DSW or Nordstrom Rack. I had found the chink in her perfection. I rolled my eyes at my glee at finding it. I extended forgiveness to her, of which she had no need. And to myself, of which I did.