I was blessed with naturally full, voluminous eyebrows.
This is a polite way of saying that if I didn't wax them, there's a good chance I'd have a stylish monobrow. I've tried tending them myself, but rarely with positive results. I once waxed off the entire middle of one eyebrow and then tried to draw it back with eyeliner.
A detail I didn't catch until I got to work and a co-worker asked if I'd been drinking.
So you see, it's in everyone's best interest if I pay someone else to groom me. Since I'm a cheapskate, the someone else generally ends up being a student at my local beauty college.
Friday afternoon, I found myself being tended by a sweet young pupil who couldn't have been more than 19 or 20. Since she'd never used hard wax before, her teacher coached her on the process while I snickered like a middle-schooler over instructions like, "make sure it's nice and hard before you start tugging on it."
When that was over, I complimented the student on both her waxing skills and the lovely french braid in her hair.
She beamed at me. "I did it myself. I could do one for you, if you like."
There are few things I enjoy more than having someone fuss with my hair, so I agreed and we headed to another room where she got to work brushing and braiding. Feeling the need to make small talk now that she was no longer smearing hot wax near my eyeballs, the student began to chatter.
"So do you have a husband or boyfriend or anything?" she inquired.
I hesitated for a moment before answering. "I'm dating someone, yes, but the word boyfriend sort of annoys me, so I tend to refer to him as my gentleman friend, unless I'm drinking with close girlfriends, in which case I opt for something more risque like–"
I stopped myself, realizing a simple yes would have sufficed.
She anchored a bobby pin in place and continued her line of questioning. "So you guys have probably been together a long time, huh?"
I tried not to laugh at the unasked question, which was something like, Geez, lady, isn't 37 kind of old to be dating?
"We've been seeing each other for about nine months," I began, "but we actually worked together five or six years ago, though we hardly knew each other at all then, and probably would have lost all contact when we both moved on to other jobs, except that he became best friends with one of my girlfriends and then he went through a divorce a few years ago, so when I went through something similar last spring, I contacted him out of the blue to be my mentor and–"
I stopped myself again, realizing I'd missed another opportunity to stick with the simple answer.
But the student seemed unfazed. "Do you ever think he's the one?"
I couldn't keep from laughing this time, though I'm not entirely sure why. Was it the sweet simplicity of the question? The strange personal nature of it? The fact that this is what a 19-year-old's version of a love story boils down to? The fact that she likely asked it because I'd told her I'm a romance author, and isn't that what romance authors write about?
In the end, I opted for the simple answer. "Of course."
That seemed to satisfy her, and I managed to steer the conversation from my personal life to hers.
It gave me plenty to think about though. In my experience, love stories are seldom very simple. Thank God, or all my books would be five pages long.
I'm in the early stages of a brand new book, which means the questions are swirling in my head. What are her issues? What are his? How did she she develop her hangup about money in relationships, and how will his status as a millionaire cause problems? Does she like to be tied up in bed, and if so, will she be turned off when he can't find a silk scarf and settles for anchoring her to the bedpost with her dog's leash?
These are all things I'll be mulling over the course of the next few months, which is something I find quite exciting. Starting from "boy meets girl" and finding ways to complicate things from there is one of the most thrilling parts of writing romance.
Do you find yourself drawn to the complex details of romantic relationships? Are you intrigued by strangers' love stories? Please share!
Oh, and if you have any tips for learning to french braid my own hair, I'd sure love to know how to do this.