So for a year I have had this wonderful mini-makeover all planned for September, when I go out on the hustings for my book. I was going to lose 10 pounds. I was going to get my hair highlighted. I even briefly considered learning how to use makeup.
And now September is right around the corner, and I have not lost 10 pounds. Actually, I gained six pounds, and then I lost three, and then I gained one, and then I lost two, and then... you know how that goes.
I arranged to take Friday off work so I could get highlights, and then the one and only salon that I trust was all booked up. Ah well, a free Friday in late summer was OK by me, too. I spent the day riding my bike and lounging on the porch with a certain border collie.
And as for makeup...
I have never learned how to wear it. Have never even tried, really, outside of once or twice, and each time it went horribly wrong. I remember experimenting with eye makeup once about, oh, 20 years or so ago, going nervously to work all dooded up, and one of the reporters--the one identified in my book as "Batman"--peered at me, way too close, scowled, and then grinned widely and shouted, "You have goopy on your eyes! You have goopy on your eyes!"
You'd better believe I scrubbed the goopy off pretty damned quickly and didn't really ever give it another try. The last thing you want, with makeup, is people noticing that you're wearing it. No, actually, the last thing you want, with makeup, is people noticing that you're wearing it and then loudly ridiculing you. To an entire newsroom filled with your closest friends and esteemed colleagues.
So that was that, on the makeup front, until a couple of weeks ago when the marketing and publicity folks at the UMPress, who have been devoted to promoting my book beyond my wildest dreams, somehow snagged me a gig on TV.
Local TV, yes. A 10 a.m. show on a Tuesday that, I figure, will mostly be watched by people in nursing homes who are physically unable to get up and change the channel. But exposure is exposure, and so I must grit my teeth and do this. More daunting than being in front of the cameras, for me, are the trappings: Will my hair be dry by 10 a.m.? (It seldom dries before noon.) Will I get lost on my way to the studio? (I am famous for getting lost.) Will I be late? (Famous, ditto.)
And most daunting of all was this, buried deep in the memo: "All guests are responsible for their own makeup."
I immediately picture rows and rows of wheelchairs in the nursing home, the occupants thereof staring at the TV set and then bursting out with laughter when the camera zeroes in on me. "She has goopy on her eyes!" the residents will cackle.
To my rescue: Connie, a woman I work with who understands makeup and uses it to great advantage. She is gorgeous without it, sort of smoky and sultry with it. On Thursday, she brought sacks of goop and other stuff to work, and at 5 p.m. we descended to the women's locker room and she spread it all out and went to work.
I have to admit there's a certain feminine satisfaction in the clicking of the little plastic containers, and the rummaging around in the important-looking bag for just the right pointy brush, and the unscrewing of the waxy-smelling lipsticks and the little pots of color and balm and unguents, setting them all out in a row of various flesh tones. The little snicks and clicks of the plastic and metal containers, the snap of the round compact, sound efficient and mysterious. The array of colors and powders and brushes and wicked-looking metal implements (eyelash curlers, apparently) belong to a world that is unfamiliar and alluring: the world of grownup women.
I associate them with the mysteries of my mother's dresser when I was a child--when she dressed up, she wore the most beautiful magenta lipstick, and she always had a jar of Pond's cold cream and a little dusting of sweet beige face powder scattered across the dresser-top. So I was interested when Connie explained the sweep here, and the eyelid here and the crease there and the pencil here and the pat-pat-pat-don't-rub and all the rest of it.
But this was her makeup, and our colorings are quite different--I have very fair skin and blue eyes, and she has a tawny golden skin and hazel eyes--and when we were all done she stepped back and said, "Nice. It looks nice," and I put my glasses back on and turned to the mirror and saw this:
Connie snicked and clicked and twisted caps back on cunning little pots and dumped about eight or ten things into a little plastic zippered sack and zipppppped up the zipper and handed it to me and said, "Go home and play with it over the weekend. Get comfortable with it."
And I have to say when I got home I kind of left it all in my bag and now it is Sunday and I think that probably, for five minutes of television at 10 o'clock on a Tuesday morning, the way I normally look will be just fine.
Today's book note: My book was excerpted in three parts on Minnpost. Go here for Part One.