Carolyn White: Living the Good Life 3-5-12
March 5, 2012
After listening to me complaining about getting older, my newest friend, Rita, suggested a change. “I used to assist a make-up artist and learned all sorts of tricks,” she assured me. “You are going to look wonderful. It’ll be SO much fun.” And it was … at least initially.
The transformation began with me being told to vigorously and thoroughly scrub my face with a washcloth in order to remove dead skin. “You should do it every day,” Rita added.
“Really? I’ve always just used my hands.”
“Oh, no, no, no, no, no,” she admonished while wagging a perfectly manicured fingernail. “It’s important to exfoliate.”
Returning from the sink, I found her rummaging through several large, silver and gold lame bags. “We’re going to start with a simple, daytime look,” my stylist announced. “First, we need to add some body to your hair.”
Leaning forward on a kitchen chair, I submitted to being fluffed, teased, poofed and then liberally sprayed. Afterwards, Rita dabbed several different shades of foundation onto my cheeks, deciding that the lightest one was best. Blending vigorously, she continued, “This will even out your skin tone … are you aware that you are both a Summer and a Fall?”
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“Whuh’s thah mean?” I mumbled, afraid to move my mouth for fear that I’d swallow something.
“It means that you can wear a variety of colors. Right now, we’re doing browns.” Keeping up a running commentary, Rita explained how important it was to apply blush from the center of the cheeks outward (I’ve always started at the ears); why liquid eye liner worked better than pencil (it lasts longer); why brushes were best for applying shadows (what about cotton swabs?); and most importantly, she informed me to “always apply your mascara last.” (Oops, I’ve done that FIRST.)
When I looked into the mirror, it was shocking. With the Elvis-high pompadour, glossy chocolate lips, Egyptian-style eye shape, and tan-colored lids I didn’t know who it was!
“Nice, huh?” She said approvingly over my shoulder. “Now, let’s try the evening look!” With a flourish, Rita then procured a long, slender box. “I know you sometimes miss your long hair,” she announced, “so here’s the solution: extensions!”
Gingerly, I held one up. “How do they work?”
“Easy, you just clip them on.”
Expertly and efficiently she attached one section at a time, commanding me to lean against her fingers when necessary in order to snap the plastic clasps. Handing over the mirror again, she grinned as I tentatively stroked the strange tresses.
“I feel like a show pony,” I finally said.
“A what?” She asked.
“A fancy competition horse,” I explained. “Owners will sprinkle baby powder on a white one to make it whiter; paint black stuff on the hooves; and even wipe petroleum jelly around the muzzle so it will shine. It makes the animal look prettier to the judge.”
“Well then, I guess you’re a show pony,” she observed, chuckling.
Next thing I knew, Rita was passing over French tip, glue-on fingernails; an enormous, rhinestone knuckle ring (my first experience with “bling”); an assortment of bracelets; and some outrageous dangle earrings. The glamour make-up was equally elaborate.
“Hold your lips still,” I was commanded as she outlined a perfect pout with some peach-colored liner. Eye brow pencil was used to “fill in the bald spots”; a sparkly green, midnight blue and fawn eye shadow trio was spread across my lids; false eyelashes were carefully cemented on; some glitter was artfully dotted across the temples; and for the grand finale everything was covered with translucent powder “to mute any shine.” At that point I was finally ready to step into the arena … er … get my pictures taken. Unfortunately, such beauty came with unexpected side-effects.
Two of my artificial fingernails popped off in the middle of the session. “Didn’t you put the glue in the center of them?” She asked with furrowed brow.
“No, I dotted some on my actual nail first and then pressed the fake one on over it.”
“Never do it that way,” Rita admonished.
Returning to her digital camera, she had me strike a number of different, often highly dramatic poses while I fought a continuous urge to laugh. Within an hour, the extensions had begun to irritate my scalp; my eyes had started to itch from the lashes; and one of my earlobes had turned beet red from a reaction to the metal in the earrings. I have to give Rita credit, though – many of the shots really DID turn out flattering and I felt a little sad when it came time to scrape everything off. But as my own natural face slowly re-emerged, along with it came a sense of relief. I’ll never be a show pony. Guess that a plain, brown mare will just have to be good enough.