On eyelashes and ephemerality

Posted on: November 22, 2015

The only other time I’ve ever noticed anyone’s eyelashes was in college. It was a guy in one of my European literature classes, I believe; the only class remaining in that room where, at the beginning of the semester all of my classes were scheduled to be held in that same room. A situation I found unacceptable; I didn’t think it would be very inspiring to spend what amounted to a whopping 12 hours a week in just one space, so I clearly had no choice but to switch all of the classes I could.

And such is inspiration that the only thing worth remembering from the only class that actually ended up being held in that room  are the eyelashes on a young man who always sat at the foot of the table in the center of the room. He may very well have been striking even with less exceptional eyelashes. He seemed tall, even though I only ever saw him seated; his torso was long andhis hairwas full in a way appropriate to the ‘90s and added to the impression of height. His hair also gave him a European air along with his features, vaguely pointy in an appealing and intellectual way, which he may well have been as well, but which I cannot confirm because I have no recollection of ever hearing him speak. Just the eyelashes.

Their length was amazing; they were easily the most glorious eyelashes I have ever seen.I didn’t wear glasses then, although I did need them, and still, even all the way across the room, I could see the length of those lashes, thick and full as they hovered above his indeterminate colored eyes.

Did he know? Did he, prepping for that 10am class that seemed so early, stand in front of his mirror thinking “By god, I really do have the most splendid pair of eyelashes. They’re impressive, and I’m impressive because of them,”? Probably not.

More than the lashes themselves, or Dada and Surrealism, what really consumed me during that class was that, the tremendous lack of justice implicit in those glorious lashes. I thought of women primping in front of mirrors, wielding curlers and mascara in the hopes of artificially extending their own perfectly reasonable eyelashes,a feat which,if anyone actually noticed, would be an easy and acceptable target for mockery. Thus, the whole goal of eyelash enhancement is to have it go unnoticed by the very people who would never have noticed them in their natural state. Worse, these insensitive bastards are endowed with the very lashes we aspire to, never noticing what is literally right in front of their own eyes; nothing seemed more unfair.

Until about three weeks ago, that is, when my own eyelashes went missing. Truly early in the morning this time, I stood in the bathroom gazing into the mirror, wondering why my eyes suddenly seemed so drab. The anwser, it turned out, is in the lashes; they’re thinner than they used to be, and shorter; potentially, there are less of them now too. Definitely, they’re different than they were before, and worse.

It’s an easy enough problem to fix, of course,  with a little mascara, on the upper lashes only to avoid the spidery effect. It’s part of my morning routine now, and not a particularly time-consuming part at that, and once done my eyes pop again and it’s impossible to tell the eyelashes weren’t there in the first place. Until the end of the day, when the mascara comes off and they vanish again. It’s such a slight change, unimportant, but at the same time, it’s impossible to ignore. Every day I see it, and for a moment I think of that guy in my literature class, of his eyelashes, forever perfect in my memory. I wonder what kind of shape they’re in now. And I wonder if, they too have started to fade under the relentless march of time, he’s even noticed.



1 Response to "On eyelashes and ephemerality"

[…] important thing I have to occasionally remind myself about that day in the Grove, when I notice my eyelashes have vanished, or as I wait at an intersection for a beautifully upright horse to trot past while I sit in the […]

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