Sunday, April 17, 2011

Being Pretty

The smell was awful. It was a heavy stench like old wood and plastic melting together in a hot silver tin. My mother would swirl the concoction for what seemed to be hours as the wax became somewhat of a burning lava to be placed on her face. I watched her with awe as she carefully, but quickly, painted the wax on her lip and eyebrows, then waited as it dried and molded to her skin. As it hardened she would proceed to hold her skin taut with one hand while delicately peeling the wax from her face. I can still remember the shape of her pursing lips and frown in her forehead perfectly as if it were yesterday.
As I would witness this torturous ritual, I recall staring at her and thinking that she was the most beautiful lady I had ever seen. Her hair was always styled, makeup always perfect, she was enviously thin {thanks to Jane Fonda aerobics}, and had a wardrobe that I couldn't wait to raid. When she would leave the room to cook dinner I would secretly open her Avon boxes and play with their contents - as if they were my palette and my face the canvas.

Saturday, thanks to my understanding husband, is My Day. I get to do whatever it is I please. Sometimes I choose to spend the entire day with the family, while others I like to have a little "me" time. This Saturday, I decided to have a little personal time by getting my eyebrows and lip waxed at my favorite Ulta Brow Bar, which is a far cry from the archaic method my mother used. The store was running a promotion and doing free makeovers. Of course, I jumped on the opportunity. After sitting in the chair for 30 minutes, I walked out with a new makeup kit that is almost sold out nationwide, killer cat eyes, and feeling like a hot mama. I couldn't wait to get home to see my husband's reaction.
As I walked in the door of our home I could hear everyone in the backyard. "I'm home", I yelled eagerly anticipating their approval of my new "look". I could hear Bean yelling with excitement as she dropped whatever it was she had in her hands. I could see her little shadow growing larger as she rounded the corner when all of a sudden our eyes met and a loud scream filled the room. She quickly averted and headed back outside. "Dadda! Dadda! Mommy scared me! She looks like a clown", she said out of breath. Great, there goes my surprise. I quickly ran upstairs and to the bathroom to dispose of the evidence. I was embarrassed and slightly mortified that I actually thought I looked like Natalie Portman, whom I told the makeup artist to emulate, not Bozo the Clown.

After I washed my face and cleaned the sink of the remnants, I fell backward on my unmade bed. I felt like a complete fool and I needed to curl up in a ball with my tail between my legs. All I wanted to do is feel and look pretty again. I closed my eyes and started to picture myself on a beach, the warm sun beaming on my skin, the sound of the ocean breaking on the nearby rocks...."Momma, are you ok?" I heard Bean whisper from outside my door. "Of course, baby, come in here. Come cuddle with me." She slowly entered the room unsure of what she would see, and I could see the worry melt from her little face as she recognized the one staring back at her. She climbed on the bed, and buried herself in her favorite little nook under my right armpit and my chest. She stuck her right thumb in her mouth, closed her eyes, and held my right hand with her left. I couldn't help but stare at her beautiful long eyelashes, her perfect baby doll complexion, the gorgeous color of her hair, and fullness in her lips....ah, to be young again I thought. Her eyes slowly opened as if she could feel my gaze and her thumb popped out.

"Momma", she said as she traced my arm with her fingertips.
"Yes, Etta?"

"You are so pretty", she said then kissed the backside of my hand. "Just like this" (pause) "I love you."

"And I love you too", I repeated with an understanding smile.

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