Monday, May 10, 2010

Ruby Lips Above the Water / Blowing Bubbles Soft and Fine

The first time I wore lipstick I'd applied myself (I do not count the time my mother hastily applied a bit of hers backstage at my one and only dance recital when she realized all the other seven-year-olds were slathered from eyebrows to chin with pancake white and blue eyeshadow) was before a canteen in the eighth grade. It was gold. I'd definitely gotten it for free, probably in a goody bag after a birthday party. It made me look like an alien. An alien in a "ZERO" shirt. An alien in JNCOs, too, I think. An alien who did not grasp the idea of dressing like a human female and instead disguised herself as a boy that human female might theoretically want to dance with.

Anyway, yeah, I generally avoided the whole lipstick thing thereafter. In college I would occasionally buy a tube of what I thought was a kind of nice-ish pink but turned out to be the exact same weird magenta color I accidentally bought every fucking time, which was immediately banished to the basket of discarded identical bad lipsticks. No, scratch that, I owned red, too. Because I wore it one time. When I was doing laundry in my pajamas. And walked into a boy I had a crush on, who always managed to see me doing something embarrassing, like singing Cyndi Lauper very loudly to myself in an empty classroom. Or doing my laundry in Lucille Ball lipstick and rubber duckie pajamas.

Somewhere in the last year, though, I bought a 99-cent tube of violently red lipstick and it is about to become the first I've ever used up. It doesn't look any better than it ever did, nor have I learned to get through the day without smearing it at least partially onto my chin and having to wipe it off vigorously with a piece of toilet paper, nor have I been invited to a rash of events that would warrant flamboyant dolling-up. I'm wearing it right now, in fact, with my least favorite pair of jeans and a cardigan that is so beyond dirty I would feel okay using it to clean up a medium-sized coffee spill at my desk.

I haven't got a single glamorous bone in my body. Instead, some tangle of neurons in my brain is deeply dedicated to the ridiculous. There aren't many women in my life who wear real makeup every day, but those who do say cosmetics make them feel pretty and properly dressed up. As it turns out, I'm not nearly as interested in feeling dressed up as I am in feeling dressed up as. Why go to a work meeting merely looking as presentable as possible when I could go as a Robert Palmer girl?

Costumery is generally frowned upon in the cube world; Halloween might see a pair of cat ears or two, but a tiara on a generic Thursday would not fly no matter how desperately one needs to be wearing a tiara. On the flip side, costumery is also kind of de rigueur if you're me. I feel about as at home in businesswear (on the occasions when I actually have to wear it) as I do dressed as a cowgirl. Red lipstick--it's an inoffensive and nonspecific anachronism, a way to lodge a complaint against the (realistically inoffensive and) nonspecific daily grind.

I have felt like I was disappearing on the subway on my way to work more than once. The proof that highlighting your talking hole with some cheap red makeup has medicinal value is the fact that this tube is almost gone, but I'm very much still here.


Blogger broom people said...

I really know the one; I stop-started with lipstick a couple of time throughout my teenage years and always with whatever old tube was lying around. I hated it, but something about it made me keep wanting to go back. Then recently I bought a couple different cheap colours (the more ridiculous the better) and haven't stopped wearing it since. I especially like to wear it while doing the totally mundane - housework, homework, other kinds of work. Somehow it makes me feel strangely more competent. "Fuck you, world, I am going to get this boring thing done and then I am going to live my life." I have a friend who wears high heels every day for the same reason.

10:45 PM  

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