Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The Things we Do for Beauty
There's a beauty regimen that nearly every woman I know has to go through. Has to I tell you. There is no choice in the matter, even for those who were born beautiful, you have to work to keep that beauty up on your face and not hanging around your neck with miriad wrinkles and age spots. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this regimen needs to start at,oh I don't know, age ten? Shockingly enough I began my "Noxzema routine" at the late age of fifteen. I remember telling my mother that the soap (Camay, remember Camay?) made my skin feel tight and icky. My mother went out to the store the following day and bought me a cobolt blue jar of Noxzema skin cleanser. Thus began the routine that followed for the rest of my life. It was only the first step, but a major one. It was like I had joined some kind of tribe after I told my friends about the miracles of that astringently smelling white cream that I used at least twice a day, on weekends three. Where had I been, I was asked. One friend claimed to have started using it at age seven. I could only think she must have had some extremely oily skin...or extraordinarily dry skin, for this was one of those "one size fits all" products. There I am, a Noxzema addict, step one is now complete and step two was just around the corner. Lipstick. My first tube was purchased in the May Company. It was Rose. Not red Rose, barely pink rose, you know just a blush of color. My mother wore Fire Engine Red and I asked her why I couldn't wear red. She told me quite simply, "you don't have the maturity to pull it off. Wait until you're older." Of course when we got home, I had to go in her bathroom and try her lipstick. She was right. I looked like an escapee from Barnum and Bailey's Circus.So, at age 16 I could wear a little powder and a tiny bit of mascara. So now here we are, clean face, a little powder, some eye makeup and an almost there lipstick. By age twenty I refused to let anyone see me without my makeup on. Mac was the only exception, he saw a clean scrubbed face twice a day. When we were stationed in London, my friend Bubbles, (she was known professionally as Violet Loxley, the West End Actress) took me to her hairdresser. Every woman knows you have to have a hairdresser that you'd trust with your life. (Here I have my darling Miranda). But so far while in England, I had yet to find anyone with whom I was, well, content. Bubbles had no end of Service people ("Little Men" as she called them...her 6/2 195 pound window washer was "her little man" and the sentence always began with "I have this little man who may be able to help you out.") She meant no disrespect, she was not rude, she was English. So, off I go to her "Little Man" who welcomes me warmly, clasping both my hands in his and standing back begins to nod his head, smiling widely. He sat me in the chair and considering me as a blank canvas began to "tch tch" and shake his head. I wondered if I had sprouted another head that didn't meet with as much approval as the one that first entered his shop. He looked at Bubbles and still shaking his head, said "lovely face, shame about the eyebrows." Bubbles came over to me and said very quietly, "he wants to give you a wax, dear. Are you game?" Now how could I tell this tiny sweet lady that the lioness, (which she often referred to me as) in her midst was not game? So Elliot came to stand over me with a sharp stick globs of hot wax upon it and although I felt I might bolt and run, I simply grasped the arms of the chair as he began to paint molten hell on my eyebrows. Not so bad, I began to relax, it didn't burn in the least. He then rubbed strips of cloth over the wax, rubbing till I thought a bruise might appear. And then the maddened little man ripped them off quickly, no warning, just PAIN erupting from my forehead. I think I screamed. I don't know, because I think I may have lost consciousness there for a minute, too. When I came to myself Bubbles was patting my hand and saying things like "it's all over now dear, wait till you see". Well, once I dashed the tears from my eyes I could see what she meant. Wow. My eyebrows looked wonderful, making my eyes look larger...the brow no longer went from one side of my face to the other with no break in the middle. I no longer looked like a long lost relative of the Wolfman. The amazing Elliot spent the next hour on my hair and when I walked out of his shop, I had to admit that I felt wonderful and looked pretty darned good, too! So we're about to walk out and back to Marleybone Station when Bubbles takes a package from "her little man". Okay, so Elliot is indeed a diminutive soul, he being 5'4 and me being, well, tall. Off we go, catch the train and back to Beaconsfield we go. On the train she takes the package from her bag and tells me "you'll like this much better for your legs than a razor or that harsh cream." I opened the box and gazed upon a contraption that fit nicely in my hand. It had what appeared to be a coil of wire at the end. Bubbles explained that you just run the little contraption up and down your leg lightly and "voila" the hair was gone as if by magic. I tried it that night. Dogs from several blocks away responded to my howls of pain. Please, someone pass me the razor.