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Al Batt: No surprises in a world without eyebrows

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt

Imagine it if you can. No eyebrows.

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.  For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.”

We should heed his words. Einstein’s brain is stored in jars and on slides, where it still inspires awe and scholarly research. As the great compliment goes, “He was as sharp as a tack and as smart as a whip.”

Kids are amazing at imagining things. Adults are less so, specializing in imagining dire consequences. But here is a chance to break out the old imagination out of the closet in the spare bedroom and see if it still works. 

Imagine if the world was lacking eyebrows.

I’ll give you a minute.

I’ll play some thinking music from “Jeopardy” while you are imagining.

Got it? I realize that some people lack eyebrows due to health reasons. Others due to a penchant for standing too close to the barbecue grill while torching too much lighter fluid on the charcoal, falling asleep on the couch at the same time that their children found a container of hair removal cream or have misplaced their eyebrows. Some are missing eyebrows because they are smiley face emojis.

Why do we have eyebrows? What purpose do eyebrows serve? Their main function is hypothesized to be protection by preventing sweat, moisture and other things from falling down into the eye. This keeps vision clear. Eyebrows are also important to facial expression and human communication. It isn’t uncommon for people to modify their eyebrows by means of hair addition, removal or makeup. I know that cosmetic surgery can raise a few eyebrows, but don’t judge anyone by their eyebrows. Tweezing, waxing, threading, tattooing and using an eye liner are commonly done to eyebrows. Some folks let their eyebrows do the talking. Women tend to fuss with eyebrows more than men. It wouldn’t help men. Francis Bacon said, “Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.” Men imagine that our eyebrows aren’t uneven. Eyebrows are one of our most expressive parts and are vital in nonverbal communication. We use our eyebrows to communicate our feelings to other people whether we’re happy, surprised, puzzled or angry.

In a world without eyebrows, a mother-in-law would have nothing to raise when seeing that her son and his bride had replaced the wedding cake with a wedding pie. What would a mother without eyebrows raise when her teen son gets up at noon to prepare himself for the afternoon? A fine woman of my acquaintance is able to raise her eyebrows well above her head.

Some people find unibrows sinister. A family elder claimed that the bushier the eyebrows, the crazier the man. An absence of eyebrows puts a rock in your sock. There was a bad guy named The Brow, a sadistic German master spy who was an enemy of Dick Tracy, the star of a comic strip. I believe his name referred to his forehead, a furrowed brow, but it gives me a chance to mention Dick Tracy. Tracy was a tough and intelligent police detective created by Chester Gould that debuted on October 4, 1931. Tracy’s partner was Sam Catchem. As a lad, I was intrigued by Tracy’s two-way wrist radio. It was just like an Apple Watch only different.

I’ll cock an eyebrow when I hear balderdash or baloney. Or baloney and balderdash. I could have raised one recently when a friend told me that he wasn’t good at being alone and sometimes went a month without being married. I didn’t raise an eyebrow because I knew that he he’d been married enough times that what he said was probably true.

It wasn’t Einstein, Bacon or Yogi Berra who said, “If eyes are the windows to the soul, eyebrows are the window frames.”

Eyebrows act as an identification card. Eyebrows stand out against the forehead, can be seen from a distance and don’t change much with time. This makes them the perfect aid in recognizing people.

The takeaway? If you’re going undercover, forget the sunglasses. Shave your eyebrows instead. The Federal Witness Protection Program could save a pile of money that they spend on relocation by just shaving the eyebrows of protected witnesses. 

It would work as long as the protected witnesses avoid making eyebrow contact.

Remember, your eyebrows say a lot about you. Mostly “Huh?”

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Friday.