Pleasures of Life

The Look

With a little help from my friends

By Beth MacDonald

You know those characters on the TV show Alien Nation? You know how, at first, you can’t quite put your finger on what’s missing, but then you realize they have no eyebrows? I, too, have several rather invisible features that throw off the aesthetics of a face. Since I have a fair complexion and very blonde hair, my eyebrows and eyelashes are imperceptible without a little AA, artificial assistance. When I apply even a light layer of makeup I often find myself narrating the process like a National Geographic documentary. “Here we see the one-eyed morning sloth searching for light hairs to shade in for others to see. The furrowed brow means the female of the species is frustrated, unable to locate any indigenous hairs.” If I don’t go through the process of trying to make these features evident to other humans, I am frequently mistaken for a 19th century influenza patient that won’t make it through the winter.

That’s just the beginning. My hair is unruly in its natural state, with so many irregular curls that it serves as a near-perfect hair hygrometer. Scientific tools aren’t required anywhere within my ZIP code since my head produces uncannily accurate relative humidity readings. I often try to soften the look by essentially destroying it with a straightening iron set on “nuclear power” mode. 

A friend invited me to one of those parties most of us have reluctantly supported where you are gathered for a demonstration of the best cookware, makeup, leggings, and home/car organization kits that will all simplify and improve your life and looks. This particular party was an amalgam of all of those salespeople selling their cutting-edge wares, turning my friend’s home into a virtual department store. I didn’t want to go because I already have four of most these items. I just wanted to sit at home in my buttery leggings, eating 5-minute fondue from my state of the art, personalized pot, while wearing the only vegan-organic-coconut-volcano-cherry-seaweed face mask on the market that would get rid of my wrinkles-lift my eyelids-plump my lips-strengthen my marriage, while I binge watch Netflix.

I tried to stick to the snack table, where I’m most comfortable, for long periods of time, but the makeup lady found me.  She must have taken one look at my sickly face and thought she should rescue me from “the ugly.” I relented and followed her to the other side of the living room/department store. I observed a moment of insanity, when I considered the necessity of a 137th finely woven pair of leggings.

I sat down in her chair as she read off an extensive list of makeover options ending with “natural bronze goddess.” I chose that one. Who doesn’t want that look? I’m pretty sure no one walks up for a makeover and says, “I’ll have the ‘pale haunted house clown face’ please.”

After an eternity (measured by increasing back pain in the uncomfortable chair, not actual real time) she was finished. She handed me a mirror to see my new, improved look. I tried to keep a straight face. I politely thanked her, hoping she couldn’t hear the horrified squeak in my voice. Blue eye shadow, bright pink cheeks, and red lipstick were not what I imagined a “natural bronzed goddess” looked like unless she was named Chuckie.

I made a mistake by going with a friend who drove, leaving me no easy escape option. I was waiting outside, hiding behind her car when she came out eons later, measured in beauty chair-time. On the way home she decided it would be a good idea to chain smoke with her windows shut. I opened my window to catch some fresh air approximately 15 seconds before a torrential downpour hit. I couldn’t close the window fast enough. I was in a lose-lose situation. Failure was not an option; it was a certainty.

At home, I realized I had forgotten my keys, and had to ring the doorbell. As I waited for my husband, Mason, to answer the door, I felt around my now sticky, wet face and knotted hair. Eau d’Ashtray was overpowering the Chanel No. 5 I had put on earlier. I looked like Dee Snider from Twisted Sister getting off his party bus. My husband opened the door and stared at me, wide-eyed.

“Sir, do you have a moment to hear my testimony of the greatest poet of our time, Alice Cooper?” I asked.  PS

Beth MacDonald is a Southern Pines suburban misadventurer that likes to make words up. She loves to travel with her family and read everything she can.

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