The Hairy Eyeball

The hairy eyeballWhen I was a kid, the house across the street was my second home. The boys who lived there were about the same age, and our common interests led me to spend a lot of time on their living room floor playing with GI Joes, Hot Wheels, and similar toys of the era. Their dad had a fondness for Bill Cosby records, and this is where I first heard about the hairy eyeball.

To give someone the hairy eyeball, according to Mr. Cosby, meant looking at someone with less than friendly intent. It meant giving someone a dirty look. I never gave the origin of the phrase much thought; I chalked it up to Cosby's comedic genius and left it at that. It would be a bit like analyzing the reasons for the words and phrases—full-goose bozo, for example—that spring from Robin Williams' unique mind. Some people's brains are just constructed in a different way. But today understand, for the first time, what Bill Cosby was really talking about, and it wasn't a joke. He was being very serious.

While inspecting my eyeball for debris this morning, the magnifying lens I use for such things revealed a great deal of hair in my eyes. My eyelashes, it seems, have multiplied a thousandfold due to some unknown trigger that instructs the hair follicles to go nuts. No doubt this is the same trigger responsible for the obscene quantity of hair spewing from my ear canals, as well as the sudden frightening growth of my eyebrows. I used to think Mark Twain deliberately cultivated the weedlike growths above his eyes, but I'm beginning to doubt that theory now.

The truth is, Bill Cosby wasn't trying to be funny. He was quite literally referring to the act of passing this crippling disease on to someone you don't like. He was talking about giving someone the hairy eyeball in the same way you would give someone a venereal disease. Someone gave me the hairy eyeball, and I'd like to know who. I don't know if there's a cure for this, but I'd feel a bit better knowing the culprit is behind bars, or otherwise restrained so this won't happen to anyone else. In the meantime, I've decided to shave my eyebrows, and I'm in the process of plucking out as many renegade eyelashes as I can find to prevent any further spread. It may be too late to save my ear canals. I'm unable to locate my ears; I can no longer differentiate the sideburns from the ear hair. In a similar way, it now seems my mustache—which had been such a source of pride to me—may not be a mustache at all. This would explain the burning sensation in my nose whenever I attempt to comb food particles from the hair that covers my upper lip.

So thanks a lot, Mr. Cosby. I used to think you were funny, but now I'm not so sure.


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