Ian McMillan: Your eyebrows sprout like a privet hedge

It’s Decision Time. I’m looking in the mirror and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s decision time. I’m not talking about Botox here, or plastic surgery, or even growing a little goatee beard that might make my face look less like the full moon. No, I’m talking about something much more drastic: my eyebrows. Do they stay or do they go?

For a man it’s one of the things about getting older, that your eyebrows start to sprout like a privet hedge; mine have been growing for years, and I’ve written about them here before because in the past I’ve seen them as a sign of maturity, of a kind of hairy wisdom that comes with the years. Now, I’ve changed my mind. I’m teetering on the edge of having them put down.

The catalyst for this was a bloke I saw on the train the other day when I was going up to York. He had eyebrows like seaweed. White seaweed. They were so big they had their own postcode and they were so long that he could have roped cattle with them. They gave him a look of permanent surprise or horror and when he saw me he nodded in a conspiratorial way as if to say “Hello, fellow member of the Brotherhood of the Vast Eyebrows”. I nodded back and felt my eyebrows salute. I got off in York and he carried on North and I swear I could still see his milky white eyebrows when the train reached Thirsk. I thought: I do not want to be that man. I do not want my eyebrows to come into the room three minutes before I do. I do not want them to constitute a trip hazard, to myself or others.

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So now here I am in front of the mirror, gazing and coming to the conclusion that they’ve got to go. But the question is, how? I could just ask Mad Geoff to trim them next time I go for my quiff restyling but I think that getting rid of your eyebrows is one of those times when a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. It’s a personal and intimate task that I feel must be performed by the brow-owner. I reach up and tug on one of them. Then I pull hard and pluck it out. Blimey, that hurt! That really hurt! I can’t pluck them all out individually because by the time I’d finished I’d be comatose with pain on the bathroom floor. I’m going to have to shave them off. Now the easy way to do this would be to use an electric razor but mine conked out a while ago and it’s gone to that place from whence no shavers return. That’s right: Bawtry. I’m sorry, that was a meaningless joke. I’m babbling because I’m getting extremely nervous at the thought of trimming my eyebrows.

I get my razor. I put a new blade in. I put shaving foam all over my eyebrows so now I look like that bloke on the train. I raise the razor to my face. I scrape, experimentally. Something appears to give. I wipe the foam away and I can see that I’ve made a bit of a dent in the forest, I’ve cut a small clearing through the jungle. More foam. More scraping. Keep your hand still, McMillan; keep it steady.

The trouble is, almost as soon as I shave them off I can feel them growing back, longer and stronger. Maybe this was a big mistake…