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"Other Colors"
by Orhan Pamuk

by Nathaniel Philbrick

March 11, 2009

Not by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin

My theory is that when a woman’s body stops making babies, the creative force is so strong that it makes other things. First, it focuses on making body parts where there didn’t used to be one – namely, a thicker waist and bigger hips. All fat gravitates to those areas. It also starts to make moles, warts, skin tags, little tumors and fatty deposits other than those afore mentioned. I have never compared myself to Heidi Klum but I think it is shameful to contemplate what my body has done while I was doing other things. One of the worst things is the sudden sprouting of hair on one’s chin.

I have told M that one of his duties is to make sure that when I leave the house I am presentable. I have also told him that saying, “Fine,” in response to the question, “How do I look?” is not acceptable. The response should be, “You look GREAT”, or “That color is good on you,” or “I really like that outfit.”

Those remarks should be made while looking closely and carefully at my chin to make sure that those long, white, stiff, whiskers are not popping out. It is awful to suddenly feel them in church or at a friend’s or out somewhere. One can hardly haul out one’s tweezers and repair to the restroom and take care of them, although discovering them would constitute a small emergency. Once discovered they have a life of their own and you can imagine that everyone is staring and discussing them behind your back, taking bets on how long they will grow before I notice them, and tsking and saying “Isn’t it a shame that her daughter doesn’t live closer to help her with her personal grooming?”

Yes, men have their own issues but they don’t seem to be bothered by them quite as much as women are. I make it a point to clip the hair that has taken to growing out of M’s ears. The barber mows them too as well as the crop in his nose and clips the eyebrows that threaten to rival Andy Rooney’s luxurious growth. In Asia we saw men with moles that had hair growing out of them – sometimes long, long strands of hair. My sister says that is considered lucky. None of them can rival a gentleman’s growth that we saw in Ireland. We were astounded to see a man with hair growing on top of his nose, and not just one hair but a tuft of hair. I am sure that I thought, “Poor man! Doesn’t he have a wife or a family to help him with his grooming?”

I think I need to get my magnifying mirror and make sure that I am presentable.

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