Bushy eyebrows are more than a sign of old age

When I looked in the mirror one morning last week I could see that it had happened again. Overnight I had sprouted three new curly eyebrow hairs, two gray and one black.

They stood out like dandelions that pop up overnight in a freshly mown lawn. Where in the world do these wild hairs come from?

This same question could be asked about renegade ear hairs and nose hairs. This question is not really worth answering, except to say that ear, nose and wild eyebrow hairs are just another one of those troublesome inconveniences we older men must learn to live with, except there’s no pill to help us deal with this inconvenience.

As a kindness to others, we really should trim these stray hairs. Have you ever had a conversation with an older guy whose nose hairs were so distracting that you completely missed the point of what he was talking about? Trimming your nose hairs is easy. Ear hairs are a little trickier. If you don’t have someone to trim them for you, it’s better to leave them alone than risk slicing off an ear.

But what about those wild eyebrow hairs?

I’ve come up with a theory about this. Have you ever seen a yard full of dandelions? A few dandelions in a well manicured lawn are obnoxious, but a yard full of dandelions can be a beautiful thing. Long bushy eyebrows are like dandelions. If you leave them alone, you will eventually have a nice furrow of bushy eyebrows, and people passing by will remark about how beautiful they are, just like a field of dandelions.

Bushy eyebrows are a sign of aging, but I’ve come to believe that they might also be a sign of increased wisdom. I call this the “bushy eyebrows-great wisdom” theory. I admit my theory is based solely on observation rather than on empirical research using old lab rats, but there are more than enough real life examples to support my bushy eyebrows-great wisdom theory.

Consider the great men who founded our nation. Paintings of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington, and Ben Franklin, to name just a few, reveal that all in their later years proudly displayed thick, bushy eyebrows. The impact of their combined wisdom on our nation cannot easily be measured.

Or consider some of America’s great inventors and scholars. Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and the Wright brothers all displayed impressive bushy eyebrows. Where would we be today were it not for the inventive wisdom of these great men? And what about Albert Einstein? His greatest works occurred not in his barefaced youth but in his later years, as he allowed his bushy hair, mustache, and eyebrows to unabated.

Several contemporary examples also come to mind like Mike Wallace, Morley Safer and Andy Rooney, all of 60 Minutes fame. I especially admire Andy Rooney’s eyebrows. As Andy squints at the camera from beneath his wiry eyebrows, you can see that he is a wise old man. Think about it. How many people do you know who can make a great living doing a three minute commentary once a week talking about things they think are stupid?

As a point of interest, I’ve noticed that very few older women are able to grow bushy eyebrows. Instead, they sprout chin whiskers. There might be a correlation between ladies’ chin whiskers and increased wisdom but I can’t say for sure because they pluck them as quickly as they appear.

I’m fortunate to have come from a long line of bushy eye-browed men. My Dad had bushy eyebrows and was a pretty smart guy. His father also had bushy eyebrows, as did his father before him. So you can understand, I was tempted to keep those three new curly eyebrow hairs that sprung up last week. But I went ahead and plucked them. It seems like the only fair thing to, as long as Yvonne is willing to keep plucking her chin whiskers.

George Brown is the executive director of Clermont Senior Services.

George Brown