There's a hair on my neck. At the front, to one side. Below the beard line, well below where I'd normally need to shave. A rogue whisker. A single black hair that bends back on itself. How long has that been there?
It must be an inch long, which makes it at least a few months old. How could it have grown so long? It's thin, but dark. And it stands out really clearly, in this light, in this mirror. Everybody must have noticed it growing out of my neck, except me. So why have I never spotted it before?
There's a mirror in my bathroom which I thought reflected me properly. It shows my face, close up, in what ought to be reasonable clarity. But it has no natural light, only artificial, because my bathroom's like that. So it must have a blind spot, or a dodgy shadow, or a lack of illumination or something. Because that hair's been growing unspotted for far too long. What must people have thought?
But now I'm staring into a different mirror. This is someone else's, somewhere else. This one has direct sunlight off to the left. This one makes my lone neck hair stand out like a flashing beacon. This mirror makes me look like a badly groomed freak. I fear this mirror's telling the truth.
And there's more. There's a tiny hair sticking out of my ear where there shouldn't be. A thin and downy hair. It's only short, but it's definitely there. Actually there might be two. In fact there might be more than two. Nothing serious, nothing like an old man might have. Well, maybe on the way to getting like that, eventually. Best not to think about it.
And those are grey hairs up there! Normally, in my bathroom, only a few are visible. Somewhere up on the temple, the occasional white strand in amongst the dark. But this mirror's brutal. This mirror shows a few more than a few, in that critical over-ear zone, maybe even a few more than a few more than a few. Still more pepper than salt, surely, but not what I wanted to see.
I didn't think I looked like that. I didn't want to think I looked like that. But using an unfamiliar mirror has revealed an unfamiliar sight. Black hairs where there shouldn't be black, and white hairs where there shouldn't be white. Everybody I know must have noticed ages ago, but my perception's been shielded by substandard reflection.
I think I need better lighting in my bathroom. Or maybe I need to reflect into other people's mirrors more often. Or perhaps I'm better off not seeing the imperfections, not worrying, not knowing they're there.
Whatever, that rogue whisker on my neck is no more. And should it ever dare to return, I hope I'll spot it long before you do.