I was raised by a glamorous mother. Each morning I’d watch intently as she created her look. It was methodical, artistic, and ceremonial. Not a day went by without this ritual, and not a day went by when she wasn’t stunning.
As she leaned over the vanity in our 1960’s suburban home, the process began with the opening of a small glass bottle. Contained inside was afresh-colored fluid, which she meticulously applied with her fingers over her entire face.
“It’s very import an to blend it into the hairline,” she’d say.
Next came pressed powder: Coty Airspun. It had a distinct smell that whispered “Mother,” and she applied it vigorously, sealing her entire face. With her eyes shut she was featureless, like a Styrofoam wig stand. Then, out of a little flora makeup bag that rattled and clicked with possibility came her trademark” Maybelline black eyeliner. With a deft hand she surrounded the entire eye like Catwoman complete with wings.
“See how this lifts the eye?”
Her brows were created, then her eyelids were contoured with artfully placed color — sometimes green, sometimes brown.
“I have wide-set eyes, and this helps draw them in.”
As each tool was pulled from the magic bag, nothing held my interest like the eye cage. With skill an precision, she pinched and pointed her lashes upward, against their will., with a contraption that ‘opened” her eyes. Mascara was applied brows were penciled, and blush was dusted. When it came to her lips, however, her tone grew serious.
“I have an ugly mouth. You don’t want to draw attention to an ugly mouth.”
Finally, from the enchanted bag of hope, a tube was drawn that contained a frosted corral cream. With a twist the cream was exposed and skillfully applied, reshaping her lips. Blot, Powder. Reapply.
I knew the makeup ceremony had concluded when I saw a single toilet paper square stained like a tiny watercolor painting, with perfectly shaped lip prints — the same prints that for many years would seal the note next to two X’s and two 0’s in my school lunch box.