What could be more fun than spending Sunday night blowdrying your lips?
I should probably explain that: I don’t, as a rule, wear a lot of makeup. I used to, but computer screens have a deleterious effect on mascara (I call it raccoon syndrome), 15 minutes toiling over a hot gloryhole should be enough to convince anyone that acrylic nail tips are a waste of money (they bend backwards in a spiral, like the runners on Santa’s sleigh), and most makeup clashes with my face’s normal attire: Clay, wax and plaster/silica.
As usual, my predilections do NOT run in the family. My sisters are incredible powderpuff artists, shrewd evaluators of the latest cosmetic trends. The other night my sister Suzanne described a routine for perking up tired eyes that I swear involved 39 different products, applied in succession.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen my sister Becky without makeup, at least not since the age of 12. I’m sure she has a naked face under there somewhere, but you couldn’t prove it by me. They come by it naturally; Mom could repaint the Sistine Chapel with only half the contents of her makeup drawers.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m adopted. My entire cosmetic inventory fits into a pouch the size of most wallets. I recently tossed out the lipstick in my purse after it went rancid from disuse.
Becky gives me mascara for Christmas and birthdays. It’s really expensive mascara. In my family, we call that “hint, hint.”
So last Sunday night after dinner, Mom casually said, “Come into the bathroom and I’ll show you how to put on lipstick.”
“Uhm,” I said mildly, “Didn’t you do that when I was three?”
“This is different. This is lipstick that will stay on all day, no matter what you do. Your sisters told me about it. Come on.”
Now, I probably worry more about alien spacecraft disrupting my WiFi signal than about my lipstick coming off, since I solved that problem long ago: If you don’t put it on in the first place, lipstick won’t come off.
But my mother has a whim of iron, like many Southern ladies. She won’t come right out and say, “Get in here NOW or you will never eat another piece of pumpkin pie* in this house,” …but in a little while you’re gonna find yourself in there anyway, so there’s not much point in resisting.
I obediently followed her into the bathroom and she handed me a long, thin pink tube. It was labeled “SuperStay by Maybelline.” (One other thing about my family: They’re equal-opportunity makeup experts–if the $100 cream is most effective, they’ll buy it. But if the $2 drugstore lipstick does the trick? Get ten.)
Mom picked up her own lipstick and demonstrated. “First, you open THIS side and spread on an even coat of color.” So I used the little q-tip wand inside the tube to apply color–a Twiggy pink–to my lips.
“Now you let it dry and do NOT let your lips wrinkle,” she admonished, “Make them do this,” and she opened her mouth wide, in a really topnotch imitation of rigor mortis. “You can’t put on the topcoat until your lips are dry. But I usually speed up the process this way…”
Picture me grinning like a zombie while Mom waved a full-throttle blowdryer over my lips. It’s hard to prevent those debilitating lip wrinkles when you’re howling with laughter, so we had a couple of false starts until I could get my lips under control.
They finally dried, and we opened the other end of the tube, smoothing clear topcoat over my still-expanded lips. Mom inspected the result and shook her head. “Wrong color,” she decided, “Wipe that off and let’s try this.” She handed me a second lipstick and we did the whole thing over.
Lips now tinted a luxuriously bruised coral, we headed back to the family room and checked out YouTube videos.
To date, I’ve found two ways to remove about half of the lipstick thus applied: A hard scrubbing with petroleum jelly, or the 45-minute drive home in my car. By the time I got home that night, the left half of my blown-dry all-day lipjob was gone. Monday morning I was still scrubbing on the other half.
*My mother makes, hands-down, the best pumpkin pie in the known universe. Whole generations dream of that pumpkin pie, served warm with a little whipped cream, or possibly chilled and eaten out of the hand as a postprandial memento. It’s rich, creamy and utterly, orgasmically delicious. If you’re really, really nice, maybe someday I’ll post the recipe.**
**I will not, however, share her fruitcake recipe, which should be canonized. It is the only fruitcake in existence that will be completely consumed before some idiot even thinks of making fruitcake jokes.