When in Doubt, Make It Up
I’m ashamed to say I’ve always loved makeup. I know that a woman’s self-worth isn’t wrapped up in how she looks, but even cavewomen rubbed berry juice on their cheeks. They must have known something. I walk into a department store, and the acres of overpriced items and women who know how to use them are somehow comforting to me. I am confident that every product I buy is going to totally transform me into the girl in the picture, and even though it doesn’t, the momentary fantasy is worth the money. It must be, otherwise we would sue. Imagine millions of women showing up in court saying, “I spent three hundred dollars on this stuff and not one person stopped me on the street and said, ‘Excuse me, are you Isabella Rossellini?’ I want my money back.”
I do get a little upset when I’m walking through a store and a lab-coated “beauty expert” says, “Makeover for you today?” I usually spend a good fifteen minutes in the morning using my potions, preparations, and concoctions with great care and skill, and here is a total stranger practically screaming at me in public, “You look horrible!”
For a Christmas gift one year, a friend gave me a certificate for a facial and makeover in an exclusive salon. I didn’t know whether to thank her or demand an explanation. I thanked her and made the appointment. I sat in the waiting room with lots of women who had more money than I did. You can always tell if people are rich by looking at their shoes. If they’re rich, their shoes look like they’ve been worn maybe two or three times and polished in between each wearing. My shoes always look like I have been doing farm work.
When my turn came I was ushered into a small dark room by a woman from a Slavic country. I lay down and Svetallaninintanova shone a bright light in my face and inspected my pores.
“Oh, dear,” she said. “You have never had a facial before, have you?”
“No, I’ve been busy trying to earn a living,” I wanted to say, but didn’t.
“This looks very bad. This will take a few treatments,” she warned.
She then stuck my face over a pot of boiling water and left me in the room for twenty minutes. When Svetallaninintanova returned, she hosed me down and smeared my face with thick white paste and left me to harden. When it felt like I was wearing a hockey mask, she reappeared.
“How you doing?” she asked brightly.
“I’m having fun now, you bitch,” I answered, knowing that since I could not move my mouth she would be unable to decipher my words. She removed the plaster by dunking my head in warm water. I lay back down.
“Now the bitch go to work on your pores,” she said.
I was in big trouble. She pinched and poked me for an hour. And what did I do at the end of it all to get even? I tipped her. I slammed five dollars in her hand and said, “Take that!”
I was then shuffled to the makeover room and was forced to look into a mirror to see what Svetallaninintanova had done to me. I looked like I had walked into a wasp nest.
The makeup lady said, “I see you had Svetallaninintanova. She does a very deep cleaning. Don’t worry, we’ll cover all that up.”
She then proceeded to fill in all the pores that had been so thoroughly purified. Because I was partially in a state of shock and I didn’t understand what they were saying, I agreed to buy every product they had used on me. My certificate was for one hundred and twenty-five dollars; I owed them two hundred and fifty.
When I came home I asked my husband, “Notice anything different about me?”
He said, “Did you walk into a wasp nest?”
He always knows how to make me feel better