AKA Just in time for Halloween…
One of my earliest childhood memories goes like this: When I was 5 years old, I found some pills in the bathroom medicine cabinet that looked like M&Ms. I promptly sampled them and quickly discovered that they weren’t candy. The medicine left my lips and tongue bright purple, which of course caused me to get busted by my mother. “Just in time for Halloween,” I remember her saying, which scared me because Halloween was weeks away. Were my lips and tongue going to stay purple?!
Years later in an unrelated event at the age of 13, during puberty and after a couple of fainting spells which landed me smack on the gym floor, my hair began to go white in a bold streak on the left side of my head. Then, to my horror, my eyebrow and eyelashes on that side also went white. I learned to use eye make-up and part my hair to cover the streak, and I feared the worst. Would I look as spooky as Mrs. Adams from the Adam’s Family? Would I end up being completely white on one side and dark brown on the other? My mother took me to a doctor and all he said was “People pay money to have that done. You’ll love it when you’re older.” Six months later it stopped.
Many years after that and with the help of the internet, I learned that the loss of pigment I experienced has a name: “segmental vitiligo.” Vitiligo, which shows up most on African Americans (and which Michael Jackson claims to have), can spread all over the body and generally gets progressively worse with time. The kind I had, “segmental,” only lasts about 6 months and is only on one side of the body, most commonly the head.
This past weekend in a “can you guess the lie?” post, I revealed 4 things about myself, one of which was a lie. Most readers guessed that the white eyebrow was the lie. While I don’t have a photo of my white eyebrow, I do have a poem about it (posted below). The first time I read it in public, I looked up as I was reading and noticed that people’s mouths were dropped open and their faces looked strained, as though they were struggling to understand what the heck I was talking about. I laughed and lost my rhythm and had to start the poem over, but not before giving a better set-up and a little background information.
My Missing Eyebrow
I don’t go out without it
like shoe and sock
to the other one
I wonder if it’s crooked
If other people take theirs for granted
I worry that they’ll smudge it
or accidentally rub against it
And who’ll put my eyebrow on
when I get old
when I can’t even see
where it goes?
And what if I forget
and leave the house without it?
Will people be shocked
bold enough to ask
What happened to your eyebrow?!
I envy those
with reliable eyebrows
two that look just like each other
and people who can go out
without checking in the mirror
to ask, Does it look convincing?
Will it draw attention?
Will it have the durability
to last all day?
Photo: Butterfly art by Steve, Halloween, maybe 5 years ago. The comb-over completely covers the white streak, which you can see a little better here.” Don’t forget to check out the related photo below: My Little Prodigy 2.