Posted: Sunday, December 30, 2012 5:03:31 AM
Here's a story I wrote recently. I hope you enjoy it. It's not all true, but maybe others can sympathize with the sentiment.
When I set my alarm clock at night, I budget an extra half hour into my time before I have to leave for Pretty. I wake up to loud punk rock. I hit snooze two or three times. I kick the covers off my feet and legs first. Then I slowly convince my upper body that I will indeed live if I leave the warmth of my mango, lemon, and palm tree blankets. I galumph into the bathroom. My sweatpants from high school drag under my feet. My boyfriend’s hoodie tactfully covers the menace that is my fantastic case of bed-head. I sit down to take a piss and slowly undress as the punk rock continues to play. It’s so so cold in the mornings. I’m a morning person, but I can’t help the goose bumps that cover my skin like an infectious disease. I leave my pajamas in a pile by the toilet. They’re still warm. I miss them now. I step out of my Hanes Wedgie-Frees and crumple them into a ball and toss them into the hamper. I start to shiver as I stand before my mirror completely naked, gnarly breath, scarred face, unkempt hair and all. I’m a sorry sight. At least I look thinner in the mornings before I eat. I smile into the mirror. The mirror returns a picture of a very homely overgrown girl, not the chic woman Pretty makes me.
I go to my shelf and gather up my Pretty. My Pretty comes in a few glass bottles and plastic trays and compacts. It comes with brushes and Q-tips and instructions. First I scrub my face to make room for pretty. I scrub and scrub and scrub until my face feels minty and lighter by a dead layer of skin or two. I am rid of last night’s grime and crust. I dry off my face gingerly – I pat, not rub. Then I smooth a cream into my cheeks. Teenage acne was mean to my skin, so now I buy a very expensive creamy serum that’s supposed to help get rid of the garbage dump of excess pigment all over my cheeks and chin and nose. My forehead’s not so bad, I guess. But I cover that with my bangs anyways.
Now I’m ready for Pretty. I start with a bottle of foundation. It’s sort of caramel colored – sweet and intriguing. I dab dab dab it all over my face with a fencer’s precision and quickness. It’s got a smooth oily feeling between my fingers. I sweep it under the bags of my eyes and over the marks on my chin. My young skin takes it, draws it in as the sugary make-up starts me on my path to Pretty. Then I take a liquid eye liner and paint myself cat eyes. The bottle is small with a gold cap, and inside, it holds a gold that’s a darker, shiner, more tantalizing black than an iris or a witch’s cat. It’s a tricky task to make the lines even on both eyes. It takes me a few tries before I have the perfect kitten face. I’m getting there. I’m becoming Pretty. Then I apply a mascara to my lashes so they’re long and flirtatious. Will I flirt with anyone today? Probably not, but maybe. Now my lashes are long and wavy and curiously zesty with the pop of a jalapeño and the finish of a red wine.
Time for my eyelids. They will be bright and colorful. Now I really start to become Pretty. I start with a polite lavender, springy and timid, not yet fully grown into its true beauty. Then I accent it with a deeper plum, juicy and luscious and dripping with poise. The two are a funny couple, so different, yet complete in their union. But I am not fully Pretty yet. No, I need more. I take a pure, sparkling white, brilliant as a new engagement ring, and brighten the corners of my eyes. Now they pop. Now, the three church-robed colors link arms and sing melodies with intricate harmonies. I am nearly Pretty. I take a large brush and a magenta blush. It’s a color with more spunk than ballet, but it demands more respect than hip-hop. It’s a color of panache, one of confidence and no room for error. I sweep the cloud-like brush over the apples of my cheeks, firm and full and ripe. I wink at myself in the mirror. The mirror winks back smugly.
Finally, I dip my finger into a lip gloss container. It’s a nude rose color, young and sweet, but giddy to learn more of a dangerous world it’s never seen. I dab the corners of my mouth, careful to work within the confines of my plump lips. Once finished, I smack my lips together and pucker into the mirror with a tastefully seductive look in my eyes. I look to the basket at my right and select a hairpiece to top off my Pretty. Today it will be a Daffodil headband, energetic and eager and wild at heart to balance out the careful, planned symphonies of the pinks and purples on my face. I’ve done it. I’ve achieved Pretty. Now I may go about my day, clad in all the colors of nature and class of a true lady.
But then I arrive home in twelve hours, and I have to take Pretty off.
First I reach for the facial scrub. I squirt a dollop of the tangelo-colored soap onto my damp hands and start to scrub and scrub and scrub to get all the sweet caramel sugar and magenta dancing off. If I leave any, the make-up will get into my pores. Then I will get pimples. Then I will get more scars. I feel like I’m not scrubbing hard enough so I put my knuckles into it and grind away at my face to sand off all the Pretty. I lean my face into the sink to wash off the soap off. I splash then scrub some more. The magenta and caramel Pretty runs down my face and off my chin into the sink bowl. I splash and scrub again and splash and scrub again. Now all the magenta and caramel is gone. I see the spots and scars on my face again. I think the expensive serum isn’t working. I think it’s all in my mind. I hate the scars. They make me ugly. I am ugly without my Pretty.
I harshly dry my face off on a towel. Then I take a Q-tip and dip in in a blue plastic bottle of eye makeup remover. I let the excess clear liquid drip off, then I start to remove the Pretty on my eyes. First, the sweet garden of purples goes. I start on my right eye. I mop my lid with the Q-tip over and over and over. It ravages the once-docile landscape. Heartless. I push harder to get out the plum colors. It hurts my eyes, but I must do it because otherwise I will get pimples and more scars. Finally all the Pretty from my right eye is one indistinguishable muddy color on the end of the cotton swab. I repeat the same thing on the left eye, callously rubbing off all the Pretty until my masterpiece from the morning is reduced to a discolored end of a Q-tip. I set it down on the sink and take two more clean ones from the box. I dunk one end into the solution once more and start to scrape off the eyeliner from my eyes. Spec by spec, the sweet kitten look vanishes, leaving my tired, caricature-sized eyes by themselves with no aid from Pretty. It takes both ends of both cotton swabs before my eyes are no longer lined with dark, elegant Pretty and instead red and irritated from all the coarse grinding. I don’t worry about my lips. That color had already faded by one in the afternoon. I run the Q-tip under my eye quickly. That will take off any make-up that fell down into the bags under there.
I look around me. All the colors – all the Pretty – are now in messy puddles on my sink. It is all a colorful film floating at the top of my septic tank over a lot of piss and toilet paper. I have wiped off all my Pretty. Now I go to bed. I am back in my high school sweatpants and boyfriend’s hoodie, and I have no more Pretty. I nestle into the covers. I will put Pretty back on tomorrow, but now I will sleep. I will sleep and enjoy my few hours without Pretty.