I WAS ALWAYS ATTRACTED to the actress Ali McGraw. The woman had great eyebrows. I shouldn’t say “had” since she’s still alive at age 82. But I think of her in the movie she did with Steve McQueen called “The Getaway” that hit the screen in 1972. Of course, eyebrows are more than just those hairy little curves over the eyes. They can be a potent communicative device. “You must never underestimate,” said Jack Black, “the power of the eyebrow.” Women particularly have used the eyebrow as a means of control for centuries. Cleopatra would raise one eyebrow whenever Antony got a bit too pushy. Martha Washington kept George in line, after he became president, by lifting one eyebrow, her way of telling him that he may be president but she’s still in charge of the house. And, just my luck, both my mother and now my wife keep me in line regularly with a simple lift of the eyebrow. It is a physical talent that I have always envied. I would stand before a mirror and grunt and groan and twist my face this way and that, but I could never get just one eyebrow to go up. I wonder if there are any national statistics about whether more women than men can raise one eyebrow. Maybe it’s a gender thing, a gift afforded females to allow them to overcome the strength differential between the sexes. Delilah may have done Samson in by cutting his hair, but she used a raised eyebrow to lull him into divulging that his hair was the basis of his great strength. Even the strongest of us can be cowed by the raised eyebrow of a woman.
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