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The Make-Up Lady

“Well, hell-O there!” the
Make-Up Lady says as I step through the door. “Are you
interested in trying some fresh make-up looks today? Free

No, I’m not at the department store. I’m at home,
walking into my house from dropping Maddie off at school, and Cora
(aka the Make-up Lady) has apparently opened for business again

Cora’s off on a new kick recently
– putting on copious applications of make-up. Pretend
make-up. Like, invisible make-up. My mom gave her a few make-up
brushes about a month ago and she’s since gone into business
for herself.

Here’s how it goes: Cora drags a step-stool into the living
room, gets out her plastic jar of brushes and lip balms, and sets
up for business. Then she drags a shorter stool to go across from
her for the customers. She’ll sit patiently on her stool for
a few minutes, then go out and beat the bushes for clients until
you finally agree to sit down.

“Now!” she’ll say brightly. “How can I help
you today? What sort of look are you going for?”

I think it’s wise to point out at this moment that I have NO
IDEA where she’s learned this. You can count the number of
days I wear ANY makeup during a year on one hand, and Cora’ s
never been in a makeup store in her life. I suppose she’s
watched my mom go through her simple morning routine a few times
and elaborated on that – but I truly don’t know.

“I’d like some eyebrows, some eyeshadow, some blush,
and some lip balm,” I’ll dutifully reply, knowing by
now what I’m supposed to say.

“Hmm,” she’ll say, taking my chin in her hand and
turning my head. “What color are you thinking for your

“Um, light brown?” I’ll say. Cora will shake her
head. “Oh, honey, I think blue will be better.”

Blue it is.

Cora gets out her eyebrow brush – a real one, thanks to my
mom – and proceeds. Here’s my favorite part – the
authenticity of the actions: Cora will dab the brush in an
imaginary pot, tap it lightly on the side to rid it of loose
powder, blow on it lightly for more of the same, then take my chin
in hand and say, “Open your eyes please and look at

How can I make this up?

She repeats the process for the eyeshadow, but whatever color I
usually pick is not available that day. “Hmm, I don’t
think we have any green today, but we have a lovely purple or red.
Which would you like?” Blush follows, preceded by a
“Smile, please!” so she might find the apples of my
cheeks, and then it’s on to lips.

Cora’s got this red-tinted lip balm in a Chap-stik-like
container, and it’s her favorite part of make-up time.
Admonishing you to hold your lips LIGHTLY together, she’ll
carefully apply it, tongue often sticking out of her mouth in
concentration. It will, of course, smear all over the face, but
she’s even learned to clean up her mistakes with a light
finger wipe afterwards. Then she’ll hold up a mirror and say,
“What do you think? Do you like your new look?”

Let’s just say that if the make-up were real, Ringling
Brothers clowns would be understated by comparison, thanks to the
colors she picked out for me. But it’s not, so I gush and
thank her profusely. Then I get a prize – sometimes a
light-up football, sometimes an empty box – and a hand stamp
or sticker. Then I’m shooed off the stool to make room for
future prospective clients.

And then she starts the thing all over again.

This buys me a few minutes of peace, and truthfully it sort of
feels good as she lightly brushes my face with a remarkably adept
hand. But she’s never content with her work
–she’s a perfectionist artist, after all – and
she invariably calls me back to “wipe it all off and start
over again”, at which point we air-wipe and do it all over

Please tell me I’m not raising a future Avon lady.


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