Once upon a time, I read in a magazine someone else’s definition of contentment, “a new lipstick, a good book, and a needlepoint project”, and thought to myself, “Now there’s a soul mate”. During law school finals, particularly, I would go with a friend to buy a little study premio, such as a new lip gloss, as a reward for surviving a test or paper. And here let me clarify: we are talking makeup counter makeup, not drugstore. High end product. Stuff that smelled good and came in a slick package. If the saleswoman threw in a makeover and free samples, even better.
One Halloween, post law school, Flaky Friend came to visit me in Baltimore from D.C. Item number one on the agenda: a new lipstick. On the way to the mall we were sideswiped by a little old lady who nearly totalled my luxurious Dodge Spirit. Undeterred, we swapped cars with Mr. Understanding after the car was towed away, and continued to the mall where we each purchased (and correct me if I am wrong, FF) the same shade of russet Clinique lipstick. It looked good on both of us and was seasonally appropriate. Neck-deep in student loans and in the middle of a recession, we limited ourselves to the lipstick. It helped us get over the next day’s and week’s aches and pains.
Living overseas, however, pretty much killed my habit of makeup shopping to alleviate stress. The colors at the department store in Mexico, for example, were geared, naturally, to a more olive complexion and cost twice the price. So I switched to buying necessities at Duty Free stores on trips home. There was also an annual trip to the makeup counter with either a friend, sister, or mother in tow. The brands have varied over the years, a little Chanel and a lot of MAC. Then, as I got older and realized I should not be wearing turquoise eyeshadow, even to parties, I moved on to the sublime Bobbi Brown.
But this summer I got lured away by a nice girl at the Trish McEvoy counter at the flagship Nordstrom store in downtown Seattle. Everyone else was busy (hello, recession? where did you go?) so she reeled me in while Mr. Understanding bought loafers. Melanie made me over and explained Trish’s nifty little compact system. Always looking to downsize and organize, I was hooked. Ms. McEvoy’s quilted, zippered pouch contains magnetic pages to which the pans of eyeshadow, blush, and bronzer adhere. There are pockets for pencils, lipstick and mascara. Plus, afterwards, I looked pretty good and the whole system was perfect for travel, a justified purchase. Melanie, a traveling Trish McEvoy rep, offered to makeover me and my sister Mood Ring Momma the following weekend, along with Lisa, the counter manager. Mood Ring Momma’s surprise 40th birthday party was the next Saturday and I was tasked with creating a diversion. I am good at diversions. Mood Ring suspected not one thing and arrived at her party coiffed, polished, and surprised.
Fastforward a few weeks later, at another Nordstrom’s in the greater Seattle area with Thing 1 in tow. This time a winter white blonde with long braids and bright blue eyes attended me. Tattoos peeked out from her various black garments and stilettos. All she needed was a helmet with horns to complete the look of Viking Queen. For a moment I thought I was at the MAC counter, but no, her makeup was far more natural. Thing 1 looked fab after her makeover, the kind of application mother and teen could agree upon. Then it was my turn. We bonded instantly over the following exchange, condensed for purposes of the blog:
Viking Queen: How about a little of the Shell Eye Brightener?
Me: What does that do?
VQ: Brightens the inner eyes.
Me: Do I need it?
VQ applied the eye brightener and handed me a mirror.
Me: Good God, thanks, but no! I look like Michael Jackson!
VQ spasmed with laughter, saying: You are baaaad! Evil! I think I like you!
MJ had just passed on to his great reward that week but was everywhere, but everywhere. I’d had just about enough. The thing I’d found most fascinating about MJ were his eye enlargements, not the 7+ nose modifications. Why, why, why? I am sure that we will find out soon.
VQ: My dad’s name is Michael.
Me: So’s mine!
VQ: And I’m adopting my little sister who is also name Michael. Spelled M-y-k-e-l-l-e. Dumb, right? But what are you going to do?
I explained about the Iranian girls I’d met earlier in the year who told me that the name Michael was evil.
Me: But wait a minute. Could you please explain how you are adopting your little sister? How old are you?
VQ: I am 31. My scumbag of a dad hooked up with a crack whore. The state [not Washington] took the baby away because the mother already had two other children with problems that were adopted by another family. I also have a 12 year old but the father and I are no longer together [and here she looked wistful]. We had a baby girl who died awhile ago.
Me: I am so sorry. How did you hear about your new half sister?
VQ: My mom. She was going to adopt the baby but the state said she was too old.
Me: Didn’t your dad want the baby?
VQ: Are you kidding?
Really, I am not doing this conversation justice. Imagine wanting to cry and laugh as someone is deftly applying mascara to your eyelashes. In order to adopt her sister, VQ had had to take classes on how to deal with crack babies. She’d had to spend a lot of money hiring lawyers to adopt her own flesh and blood. Like her Nordic predecessors, Viking Queen was undaunted in her quest to adopt her sister, forging ahead over icy, unfathomable waters.
Over the summer, VQ and I had several more conversations. She sent me a Trish gift. I introduced my other sister, MCV, to Trish McEvoy at the Bellevue counter where Peaches had already heard about Mood Ring’s 40th party makeover. Viking Queen’s own mother (if you can believe!) was allowed to bring her her sister from several states over. The ex-husband was in town and volunteered to babysit while Viking Queen taught her spinning and yoga classes, planting a seed of hope. Baby Mykelle looked like her sister/mother and was thriving in her new environment.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 13, Trish McEvoy herself is going to be at the downtown Seattle Nordstrom. For an amount less than what you would spend dining with your local Congressman and for an experience far more rewarding, you can have lunch with Trish and get your money back in Trish goods. Sign up if there’s still room. Trish owns her own business and is not part of a conglomerate, a savvy entrepreneur. Several of my favorite people are anteing up so they can buy lipstick with my favorite new Makeup Maven. I hope Viking Queen is there too, so they can meet the woman who inspired me this summer with her innate sense of decency, her acceptance of the tough road she has traveled, and her generosity of spirit. At peace with her past, present, and future, she deserves a prize of her own and I am not talking lipstick. Maybe Trish can give her a promotion?
Housekeeping Question: How often do you clean out your fridge, as in, get rid of the leftovers, etc?