We often moan about how modern life is not social, it is too discrete and lonely. But then something like the Covid-19 hits then we realise how close we are to each other – in tubes, in buses, in GP surgeries, in queues and in beauty salons.
It was not until I walked a mile to my usual bi-weekly habit of getting my eyebrows threaded – that means removing stray hairs that grows like weed that gets removed with a cotton thread. That does not mean I thread the hair on my eyebrows. Who did you think I was the Beast? Anyway, it was not until I walked to the salon and sat down in the chair that tilts backwards and as the beautician’s face came so close to me that I realised – Oh no! What if a stray droplet of saliva falls from her face directly to mine? How many faces did she touch? Did she go to China lately for a holiday?
Being British, I obviously didn’t ask her any of those questions. I sat there, ignoring the pain as the threat of COVID-19 flashed through my mind. I wondered about telling her she might lose a lot of business soon and she must prepare for it. I wondered if she has bought face masks already and would she agree to wearing gloves? I wondered if I could wash my face with soap right after the appointment right there in the mall? Should I buy some Dettol in the nearby Boots to wash it too? But Dettol only guarantees 99.99% of bacteria and viruses.
What if Covid-19 was in the .001% of elite viruses? What if Dettol couldn’t kill it? As these thoughts spiral out of control, she is busy plucking hair out of my face and involuntary tears pour out of my eyes.
My mind raced to the documentary that showed Chinese takeaway and salon folks showing their body temperatures before offering services. I wondered if I’ll sound silly if I asked her what her body temperature was? That would have been the worst chat-up line ever, if it were one. But if you believe the health experts, we’re heading in that direction.
“Hello I’m Chitra and my body temperature is….” Might be how we start all conversations soon, with our hands and faces covered and peering through masks. Now who’s looking like a post-box Boris?
What was the alternative? If I didn’t get my eyebrows done until a vaccine was invented, I might have to thread my eyebrow hair into a braid at some point surely. As a single woman who has never had a serious relationship, this was an opportune time when men desperate and in the fear of death might ask me out. But when they do, I’ll blow my chances if I had two bushy eyebrows, a moustache and a beard and still self-identify as a woman. They won’t believe me even if I show my birth certificate that says baby girl.
So at the risk of catching the dreaded virus, I decided I’d rather be dead with well-shaped eyebrows and no facial hair than live with two bushy eyebrows, a moustache and a beard with no chance of dating even the last man on earth.
Psst! This is a funny essay reflecting the real thoughts that went through my head. This is not advice against COVID-19. If you're worried about the virus, read this https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19.