A few years ago, while in New York, I had a plan to meet a friend at his neighborhood tavern. It was one of those ‘everybody knows your name’ places, so I slid comfortably onto a bar stool to wait for my friend. As it was nearly empty, before the afterwork crowd was due to show up, the bartender was fine with me just ordering a glass of bubbly water as I waited. I did what everyone does while they while away time in a public place: I checked my phone for messages. Suddenly I felt a presence to my right, and I knew instinctively that it wasn’t my friend. I didn’t look up from my phone. A couple moments later I heard a voice from ‘the presence’ say to the bartender, “A chardonnay, and one for the lady, too.”
I peeked over my phone to the bartender who was looking at me questioningly, with a frown, confirming my dreaded suspicion that ‘the presence’ was trying to buy me a drink. I glanced to my right, intending to quickly and firmly refuse his offer. But I couldn’t utter a word, nor even shake my head. I was frozen, staring into veiled eyes that were darting back and forth behind the longest eyebrows I’d ever seen. Finally, I had come face-to-face with what the Taoist monks called Ghost eyebrows.
I thought I would never see Ghost eyebrows because I could not imagine a person not trimming eyebrows that grew so long they covered the eyes. Yet, here that person sat, glaring at me through his veiled eyes. The traits that the monks used to describe people with these eyebrows—self-indulgent, immoral, and unreliable—came to mind. Without using the skills of a face reader, but simply reacting to those eerie eyebrows, my gut told me those traits fit this man. I immediately felt guilty for making such a harsh judgement based only on one feature, but I also trusted my intuition.
My good instincts were confirmed when the tavern’s host quickly appeared and invited the man to my right to leave the tavern. It took a few moments, but once the man with the Ghost eyebrows was gone the bartender confided that the man came to the tavern two or three times a year and always created a problem. Management, this time, decided to ask him to leave before the chaos ensued. Frankly, I was relieved. I’m still wondering, to this day, Who would not trim those eyebrows?
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