Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My Lips Are Pursed

I have an addiction.  It’s not serious. It’s lipstick. And, I’m not alone.

I see other addicts like me on YouTube and Instagram. They take pride in their dependency, posting enormous “lipstick collections” with taglines like: “I’m obsessed!”

I, too, am obsessed, but I’m not proud of it.

Last November, Buzz feed listed “23 Things Only Girls Who Are Addicted To Lipstick Know To Be True…” A puff-piece, but for me, it read as one of those lists – “If you-relate-to-at-least-10-items-on-on-this-list-you-have-a-problem.”

I can relate to all 23.

It started when I turned fifty. That’s the year I began the pursuit of “the right color” lipstick.  My standby YSL #10 just wasn’t doing the trick anymore. Despite the hint of pink, something about the pigment on my aging lips, or perhaps it was my half-century-old complexion. Even with lipstick, I began to look all one color – and worse, a desperate older woman trying to rock the nude-lip.

I’m no great beauty trying to hang on to her looks. The Paparazzi don’t follow me, and my job does not depend on my appearance. I’m the girl-next-door, the fresh-faced type that isn’t feeling so fresh anymore. So began my endless pursuit to find the right shade of lipstick. Corals, reds, even plums, but I kept going back to a more natural “nude pink” to give me a lift. The trick is finding just the right shade.

Unfortunately, I am only satisfied with a new nude pink lipstick for a day or two. Maybe, a week at best.

Some people turn to the bottle or pop pills. I, instead, turn to the make-up counter at Bloomingdale’s. The swipe of a new lip color is my fix. If I am having a bad day, something about a bright counter gleaming with a rainbow of pinks in glistening tubes cheers me up. It’s what my mother calls “an uppy.” It gives me a high when I paint my lips a new color, even better when an eager salesperson looks on: “That’s shade’s great on you! Shows off your eyes!”

What’s to hate? Right?

I thank heaven for those prehistoric Mesopotamian women who were the first to discover the charms of lip color. There they were, grinding out precious gems. And, voila - a shimmering dust from their riches to decorate their lips! God love ‘em.

My addiction was creep-mousy, slowly sneaking up on me until I realized I had filled an entire make-up drawer in the bathroom with lipstick – all basically some shade of light pink, and the drawer even getting heavier to roll out from the weight of them.  Dare I count?

“It’s a part of me I’ll never give up,” so says item #23 on the list of things only girls who are addicted to lipstick know for sure.

Not long ago, I found just the right pink. Dior Addict - Kiss Me #389.  

Shaped like a syringe. I thought I was finally satisfied.

Problem is, I’m already over it, finding myself at Bloomingdale’s
yesterday afternoon, in front of a line-up of Bobbie Brown lipsticks.

“May I help you find the right lipstick?” offered the man behind the counter.

I thought back to my bathroom drawer. What am I doing?

“I think I’m ok,” I replied, eyeing the pinks. “Just looking.”

He began explaining the texture types in the different tubes. Little did he know, I’m practically a scholar in all things lipstick. “Now, this one," he said, pointing to one of the lipstick's. "This one would be perfect pink for you."

My sister has teased that I need a sponsor. Who do I call? “Help! I’m buying another frigging pink lipstick!”

Enough.  This is ridiculous. I’m going to stop buying lipstick for three months. I love a challenge, but can I hold back from getting my fix?

Well, I’m going to try, and I’ll let you know on August 25th where you’ll probably find me at the Bobbie Brown counter trying on that “perfect pink.”



After reading my draft, my husband, Hank, had one comment: “You’ll never make it to August 25th.”

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lady On The Plane

Southwest Airlines has the boarding process wired when it comes to the queue. Passengers line up in alphanumeric order according to their boarding pass like school kids on a playground.

American Airlines is not so good.

Last Monday morning, passengers waiting to board an America flight to Washington DC resembled an angry mob in The French Revolution. The gate agents fueled the fire barking out terse “We have a FULL flight! If you are in Section C or D, you will NOT have any overhead space!”

We merged forward like a hill of ants, crowding in more. Backpacks bumping. Handbags swiping. Closer we crept to the Holy Grail… the two lanes leading to the plane separated by retractable, thin nylon straps.

“May I have your attention, please,” the gate agent called out again. “There. Will. Be. No. Upgrades. Everyone has checked in!”

“Excuse me,” said the pushy blonde woman (who had just moved into my space) to the couple who had just moved into hers. “This is Priority? Are you Priority?”

“If First is Priority, then, I guess we are,” the man said.

I looked at her ticket. She was “Priority” but, way back in 26C. Got her, I smiled.

Pre-boarding is the worst part of the flight. There is no political correctness here. You’re either “Elite,” “Priority” or in the  “main” cabin, a euphemism for “back of the bus.”

It’s when I’ve seen people practically mow down a woman with a cane. Step in front of a uniformed serviceman, and clip my heels with their roller board because I wasn’t going fast enough down the ramp to the plane.

On this Monday, no one was in a good mood.


“You’re going to need to put your bag in the overhead,” the man in the window seat said, pointing to our seatmate’s bag at her feet. “It’s bulkhead. They make you do it.”

She reached down for her small backpack: “I know this particular plane, it fits under the seat on these.”

The man, middle-aged, and dressed in a suit, wasn’t having it. “Look, lady, I fly a lot. You’ll have to put it up.”

Keeping my eyes on my Kindle, I shifted in my seat, thinking, oh man, this is going to be a long cross-country flight.

“I fly a lot, too,” she replied, deadpan.

The man didn’t even try to hide his surprise: “Really?” he said, measuring this thirty-ish woman, eyeing her faded cotton leggings, the no-name tennis shoes. Her ethnicity… 

I stood up. “Here,” I said to her, “let me help you out. I can squeeze your bag right above.”

She smiled, resigned to the man on her left, and handed me her bag. 

I sat back down to buckle up, but the seat buckle wouldn’t fasten. “Shoot,” I said aloud.

“Here,” said reaching out her hand, “let me look at it.”

Expertly, she sized it up, clicking and unclicking, testing the hinge.  “Now try.”

It fastened. “Wow, you’re an expert. What do you do that you fly so much?” I asked.

“I’m with the FAA.”

“Ah,” I nodded and motioned to the man next to her. “So, if his seatbelt isn’t working. Don’t fix it.”

She laughed and gave me a wink. “I hear you.”

 And, I knew then that it wasn’t going to be such a long flight after all.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Swell for you, Hank

Daily for the past few weeks, a small box from Amazon has arrived at the door for my husband, Hank.

It’s as if he’s sprinkled out his needs for this upcoming surf trip on a day-by-day basis – each new item opened after work, escalating the big event.  One day it’s eye drops, the next, mosquito repellant. Yesterday it was a tan UV shirt. 

Additional Go-Pro batteries, sunscreen, bio-degradable shampoo and soap, lightweight linen drawstring pants…It’s all there spread out in the guest room reminding me of an eager kid on his first adventure.

I love it.

Last fall, when Hank told me about the bodysurfing group planning a trip to Nicaragua, I told him that he should absolutely do it.

You see, Hank's one of those guys who doesn’t get a whole lot for himself, save the occasional good bottle of Cabernet - one that he’ll hang a little tag on, and put away in the wine closet to be opened on a special occasion.

For years, it’s been all about the children and me.  He’s never hesitated to make it work when we’ve wanted something. He’s been the guy who held back for himself.  The guy who would put a coffee maker on his Christmas List.  Even a pair of new fins, he’d think twice.

Tuition bills no longer lay on the desk. The kids are all drawing a paycheck now.  It’s Hank’s turn.

The surf has been a healthy way for him to release from work and in the past he’s passed trips up. I have my worries, though. I always do when he’s in the waves. He's an expert bodysurfer but anything could happen out there and he’s not twenty-two. I brought it up to my mother.

“Mom, for a whole week I will worry about him out there in the surf.”

Her response was quick:  “At least, he’s hitting the waves instead of the bars with another broad.”

Enough said.

Naturally, Hank scoped the airfares, weighing all the options, etc., insisting that his trip should be this year’s Christmas present. “Make that my birthday, too,” he added.

“You’re buying your ticket so early it’s like a dollar ninety-eight and you’re staying at a surf camp,” I said. “Relax, it’s not The Four Seasons!”

Yesterday on Facebook, he posted a throwback bodysurfing picture: “Whetting my appetite for the Nica trip starting in five days.”

Another little box from Amazon arrived this morning. “The last one,” he told me.  “Neosporin.”

Saturday, he'll be off.  Surf’s up, baby!