The Eyes Have It

July 4, 2008 at 8:49 pm (Mary McQueary, Soliloquy)



A day at the Spa.  The words flutter mimicking yellow butterflies among my plumbago bushes. The final sentence to my favorite fairy tale, And they lived happily ever after, also flitters in a similar way. And like the butterfly when he has found his delight inside the delicate periwinkle blossom, these sentences are followed by a sigh of contentment. It is this contentment each visit to the Spa women feel. A day at the Spa leaves a woman refreshed and renewed (and often with skin resembling a plucked chicken’s).  She departs feeling more alive, always better than when she first arrived.  The Spa is a place where a woman can let down her hair, cut it, curl it, more often than not remove it, or add to it. It is this adding of hair that intrigues me most.


If I had a dollar for every time a hairdresser has felt my hair and whispered in my ear with a conspiratorial smile reflected in the mirror before me, “I can’t believe how thick your hair is”, which is promptly followed by them shouting, “Everyone! Come quick! Feel her hair!” I would be so rich I’d have an assistant typing this story for me as I dictated it while I wandered around a mansion full of valuable art dressed in silk lounge pants sipping a martini for breakfast. So it’s not hair extensions that I’m particularly intrigued by, it is the adding of eyelashes that, no pun intended, caught my eye. 


The setup is similar to having artificial fingernails. For a hefty sum the first time, fake eyelashes are applied in tiny clusters to your natural ones. Being a semi-permanent process, fills are needed every month (for a fraction of the original cost), replacing the ones that have fallen out due to the natural shedding cycle of the eyelash. The application lasts approximately 30 minutes and is relatively painless. (If you blink too much while the glue is still wet fumes irritate the eye slightly and a little discomfort is felt, but the irritation isn’t even close to being as strong as getting soap in the eye). I’m all for painless beauty and the promise of full, dark, dramatic eyelashes was so appealing to me that I made an appointment to have mine done.  I set the appointment to be two days before departing on a lengthy trip on which I expected to be in the water half the time. The benefit of fake eyelashes would be that I did not have to wear mascara at all. Even the best waterproof mascara can’t pass the test of water skiing, swimming, and getting sweaty from hiking up mountain trails that dead end at prime viewing spots of pristine, snow-fed, clear, freshwater lakes. 


The room was decorated with maroon on every surface. The only other color in the room was white. An antique sideboard holding samples of botanical emollients and pamphlets splashed with statements about no animal testing. Lying on the silk covered bed/table peacefully, I attempted to do as I was instructed. Keep my eyes gently closed while lashes were combined with my own, held secure with tiny dew drops of black glue.  My eyelids began to feel heavy, as when fatigue draws them to the ground, but it was not uncomfortable and although I was sure at the beginning of the procedure my eyes would water they did not. My tear ducts had yet to release the grief that remained damned over the recent death of my grandmother so I was not surprised that the nearness of pointy fingernails and sharp tweezers to my eyeballs did not release more than a fine mist across the eye. The woman attending me chatted about her business and the various wants and desires of her clientele making the time pass by swiftly.  From her tales I gleaned that not all women want or need a complete makeover (contrary to popular belief). More often than not, one change can make such a significant difference upon a woman’s confidence and overall look, that no other changes are warranted. I left feeling thrilled over the new look the eyelash extensions gave me, my hairstyle suddenly more elegant, my outfit more sophisticated.  I was one happy customer as I headed out of the Spa. That is until I climbed in my truck and saw myself in the rear view mirror.  Suddenly I felt unsure about the new look. I went about the rest of the afternoon unable to make direct eye contact due to wave after wave of indecisiveness.  Plus I could see the eyelashes, which was a new experience for my lashes had always been full but never lengthy. I began to wonder, just how do taxi drivers who string pom-pom fringe across the top edge of their windshields see?


Hours later I’m perched on the bathroom counter staring in the mirror.  My eye color falls within the catch-all term ‘hazel’.  Upon a foundation of green, brown spins out from the center, the effect similar to the art made one summer at the county fair. A five gallon drum contained a spinning wheel of paper. Given paint in red plastic ketchup bottles, we dropped various colors and sizes of drops upon the centrifuge. My eyes are so ordinary, compared to others.  Mike is blind in one eye. Both his eyes are blue. He often holds up his hand near his blind eye to block you from viewing it for it is so hard not to stare. Frozen in time it sparkles the most brilliant diamond, captured forever his joie de vivre. If he does not block your sight of it, your ability to read his body language is thwarted. He blocks your view to give you a fighting chance.  My sister has freckled eyes. A few dozen dot each of her gray-blue eyes. Her eyes are clear throughout until you reach the bottom, reminiscent of an albino’s.  At the bottom lies a watercolor of a gloomy day at sea.  As she stood in the garage facing the sun a few weeks ago I was able to get an excellent view of her peepers.  I resisted the urge to have her turn sideways so I could attempt to determine whether the freckles were just dots or tips of tendrils reaching out from within her brain.  My best friend’s eyes are the color of the ocean during Snoopy’s tale of a dark and stormy night. On many an occasion I glimpse leviathans in the deep. 


As night approached, the glue on my eyes hardens, tightening the bond between artificial and natural lash. There’s been a cricket near my bed for two nights and as I lay awaiting the train to dream land it starts chirping. So loudly is its chirp I decide its location must be directly under the bed and grab a flashlight to peer underneath. Nothing. Placing my ear upon the wall I track his sound upwards, is he in the wall? My eyelids are feeling sore, I assume its fatigue and start to climb back in bed. Perhaps the cricket is in the headboard? More likely it’s in the rain gutter.


With one hand grasping the top sheet poised ready to fling back the covers, I reach with my other to move the pillow. Mid air my hand freezes.  A huge ant is walking across the edge of my pillow. Creative writing may demand the use of   better adjectives but I can think of no other way to describe an ant that is the length of your fingernail and a third of the width.  Many insects in Florida suddenly take flight without the obvious means to do so and although I do not see any wings on this ant I do not risk brushing him casually to the floor.  Instead I carry him on the pillow into the kitchen as carefully as if I was the ring bearer in a royal wedding.  Never losing sight of the black and red body I transport him solemnly towards the altar where his fate will be sealed forever.  FWAP! Flip-flop connected solidly with ant body. I went back to bed.


It’s 4 a.m.  Maggots have replaced my eyelids.  Black flies have hatched and are attempting to fly away. Their bodies are made from metal bristle brushes used to clean car battery terminals. None can escape. Black glue pins them to my skin, my face having become a dipterist’s collection board while I slept.


Nearly blind I find my way to the kitchen. I struggle to read the aftercare card I was given, searching for clues as to how to remove them. It warns to not use oil, to not get wet, to not sit in hot tubs. I grab the olive oil from the pantry and race for the shower, knocking into corners as I go.  Hours of hot water, olive oil, makeup remover, and soap finally release the eyelashes. It stings. A huge relief is felt when the last of the dead fly bodies finally washes down the drain.  My once quick and painless beauty now leaves me humbled, for removed along with the artificial the natural have also been taken. Half as many eyelashes remain as when I began.


My wish was to wow people with the look of my eyes, and I was still able to do that after this ordeal. Everyone that saw me for days afterwards said, ‘Wow! What happened to your eyes?’ It wasn’t exactly the comment I was hoping for but one I use as a springboard for a tale that ends with a serious request, “Could we do some testing on animals?”


– Mary McQueary.


1 Comment

  1. Skip said,

    Great read. It was a good follow-up to hearing the story first hand. LOL

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