Enough Make-up to Scare a Hooker

I wrote the below text in response to the following prompt for my monthly writer’s group: Respond to the statement “Enough Make-up to Scare a Hooker.” I had no idea what would flow from me as I contemplated this concept, and I’m rather amused with where I ended up. Enjoy!

When I was seven, I remember having a serious conversation with my mother about the merits of make-up. I felt I should be allowed to wear it. She disagreed. I felt that I should be allowed to imitate my older, more sophisticated cousin Libby, who painted her face regularly before heading to her after-school job at Pizza Hut. My mother felt that I should be seven, play with my dolls, and not worry about the make-up for a few more years.

“Can I at least pretend to be older when I hang out with Libby?” I asked.

“Okay,” she said, “but just with Libby.” Libby lived in New York, I lived in West Virginia, and we really only visited each other once or twice a year. My mother was good at making deals.

When I turned ten, my mother finally acquiesced to my make-up request, but instead of buying me tubes of lipstick and cases of mascara, she bought me a little pink plastic “teenager-in-training” kit. The various shades of pink lipstick each stacked on top of the other and snapped into an indented spot in the plastic case. Everything about the kit looked like the plastic packaging you discard after you’ve taken out the exciting toy on Christmas morning. Where was my tube of Revlon? Where was my clamshell case with just the right shade of blush inside? “Mattel” just didn’t strike me as a reputable make-up distributor, and my interest in the little kit faded immediately.

When I was old enough to buy my own make-up with my own money, I walked into the local CVS, approached the make-up isles, and stood there, staring blankly at all that lay before me. I wanted a red lipstick, but I couldn’t find red. Rapture, Rush, Tampered, Manic, Liar, Broken, Sheer Rapture—these were all available. But no red.

I tried for blush instead. A sign in that section encouraged me to choose a blush that matched my skin tone. Was my skin cool, warm, or neutral? Well, at that moment, I’m pretty sure my skin had turned the exact color of the lipstick I was unable to find.

I walked out of the store with a tube of mascara and promptly poked myself in the eye when I tried to apply it.

I don’t know if it was my mother’s lack of support, my own inept ability to choose lipstick and blush, or my naturally shaky hands that create challenges when I go to apply make-up, but my seven-year-old desire to “put my face on” faded away. Over the years, I found that I only wore make-up when I took on the role of a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding, and each and every time, I asked someone else to do my make-up. I can’t be trusted with an eye-shadow pencil in my hand.

On the day of my own wedding, my make-up became mostly an afterthought. I didn’t do a make-up test run as some brides do before the big day. I didn’t even buy my own make-up for the occasion. My soon-to-be mother-in-law had given me a make-up kit as a Christmas gift the year before, and my wedding would be the first time I planned to use it.

As my four bridesmaids, my two soon-to-be sisters-in-law, and I got ready in my room, I asked for make-up assistance.

“Sure, I can help. Do you have a bronzer?” one of my sisters-in-law asked.

I had no idea. Did I have one? What was a bronzer any way? I was embarrassed to admit my lack of knowledge to a future family member, but my wedding day was a big deal, and I needed to swallow my pride.

“Um, no, I don’t think so.”

Luckily, she did, and with the help of all six ladies in the room at that moment, I was able to put my face on without touching a single eyebrow pencil or tube of lipstick.

After much additional fussing over the dress and the hair, the moment I had been waiting for finally arrived: the groom’s first look at the bride all dressed up in her wedding finery. The camera man was at the ready, and the groom had his back to me. As I approached my soon-to-be husband, he slowly turned around and smiled. I beamed. We embraced. We kissed. It was a scene straight out of a movie. It was perfect.

And then he said, “You’re wearing enough make-up to scare a hooker.”

Or maybe he didn’t say that. Maybe that’s just what I heard as he actually said, “I love you, and you never have to wear make-up again.”

Either way, I went ahead and married him, and true to his word, I haven’t worn make-up since.

DSC_4507

This photo captures the moment just before my soon-to-be husband turned around and saw me for the first time in all my wedding finery.

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