In which Evan discovers his outer drag queen…and that his mother needs to be taught a big new set of responses

Evan. Ahhhhhhhh…. Evan. My beautiful boy. My 6’4″ perfectly proportioned baby giant of a middle lad.

What? Bored already?

Ok, I admit to soppiness over Evan.

Born late, entering the world in a bloody-painful-for-me leisurely-for-him 4 hours, when his 10lb buddha-frame was gently scooped from the birthing pool, he could barely be bothered to squawk his arrival, preferring instead a calm contemplation of all around him.

He slept all night. Guzzled me efficiently and weaned painlessly – with a marked preference for winter comfort foods – mashed stews and meat; rice puddings; bananas.

He grew a halo of fat white blonde curls to adorn his apple head, long curling dark lashes to frame his periwinkle blue eyes- and provoked ooohs and aaaahs wherever he went.

Not much has changed.

The girls swoon. And so do some of the boys. He has an almost androgyny. His tall large muscular frame suits the pale pinks and baby blues; he can pull off floral prints and wear my sunglasses and look fabulously masculine. Even just a bit macho.

His is the attitude that I envy. He puts himself out there for laughs. Gets his hairy legs waxed for charity. Wears a granny suit for halloween and a ‘Borat’ man-kini for fancy dress. He gives lectures in class on poverty and equality and the evils of discrimination. Laid back, he does not stand when he can sit; nor sit when he can  lie. He is cat-like. Energy-conserving.

Except when it comes to party-preparation – when we will all be enveloped in Eau de Young Man on the Pull and endure a two hour wait for the shower room.

It was at last week’s party that Evan decided to get his eyebrows plucked ‘just to see what they’d look like’.

Evan’s pre-pluck-look was centimetre thick but shapely. With a tendency to meet mid-brow. They certainly don’t meet mid-brow now. And I’m not sure my measuring tape could record the width.

He unveiled ‘the diva look’ for the first time last weekend. It was late last Saturday night, and there was a gathering of the generations – his granny and granpa; mum and dad; eldest brother and girlfriend; younger siblings and cats – all gathered around the kitchen table laughing, drinking, swapping stories of our week and eating snacks.

At first – and I mean a ‘fraction of a second’ fleeting first glance in the general direction ‘at first’ – we didn’t react.

And then it began. Carrie’s sharp intake of breath and choking guffaw. Lewis – resolutely black and white in his role-definition (‘real men don’t pluck or at least don’t pluck as much as that’) – giving a heartfelt: Oh ffs what have you done now you total fanny – exclamation of disgust. Papa Jaime just shaking his head, speechless – but (and this was really weird – at least, coming from my father it was) latterly defending Evan’s right to do it. Mamie giving it her best shot with Well, maybe it’s the fashion…Is it the fashion Evan…? … Oh…It’s not…?…Oh, well then, they’ll grow in soon enough… Robert shrugging with aye, he’s jist a lad… and to Evan: Was she good-looking then? Did you score? The wee ones laughing and laughing and going OTT with their pointing and laughing Evan, your face is like a bum now…hahahahahahahaha.

Me? My response still bewilders me – especially coming from a woman who used to shave her head and dye her scalp blue…

I shook my head and said You are such a bloody idiot sometimes Evan. It looks a real mess. You look like a right tube. What on earth were you thinking about!

Was it my response that he was waiting for? Did he need me to laugh and think it was all a big joke? I think that maybe a bit of him did. Because my response was the only one that he caught and threw back. That kicked the sweetly smiling inner-buddha-boy into touch and woke the raging teen beneath…

You know what Mum? I don’t care what you think. I just don’t care. You just don’t get it. I did it for a laugh. It’s funny. And I don’t care if I look stupid because it’s a laugh Mum. A laugh. You just don’t get it: I don’t care what people think about me because I’m ME.

Honest folks, my response to the pluckery wasn’t that\vehement or ‘bothered’. But hey, it set off a whole big disproportionate verbal chain reaction from him.

His brows are growing on me (boom boom)… From the side I admire his sleek sweep from cheekbone to forehead. His Rue Paul-esque profile which is begging for metallic eyeshadow and false lashes. But I still prefer him the way he was pre-pluck.

It is our joint responses which have exercised me a bit. And finally, today I think I understand better what was going on. That the entire scene – everything about it – marks the rightful beginning of his assertion of separateness. His journey into adulthood. The final severing of the spiritual umbilical that we need to cut if we are to make our way – as unique and separate individuals – in the world.

His eyebrows are my shaved head – which, in its day, was as repugnant as rotting fish to my mother. And it’s to my mother I need to turn for the next lesson: how to let go, without losing your child…

5 thoughts on “In which Evan discovers his outer drag queen…and that his mother needs to be taught a big new set of responses

  1. Plucked eyebrows, shaven heads, in my day even pierced ears and too much lipstick – we all do it and our parents always react (over-react?) giving us something to kick against. Some boundaries while they are still our responsibility, but we risk losing them completely if we hold on too tight.

  2. Beautifully written, I hear you. I went all anoxeric to mark my separation from family, but my own crew look like being real Italian Mammoni – a few shaven heads and blond daughter went mousy brown, youngest cropped his fro for a Balotelli cut. I'm waiting for the shaven eyebrows and nose rings, I guess.

  3. Welcome Divorced Lady! And thank you.
    Yes, they cut themselves free of childhood (and Us!) only too quickly. I watch with pain – but some delight – as the next phase commences… Ps Balotelli's got a very interesting cut…

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