Beauty Befuddlement and Makeup Tips from Men

 

Beauty Befuddlement and Makeup Tips from Men - closetdramablog.wordpress
Photo by William Ivan on Unsplash

Sent:

Please have my back at work tomorrow.  I’ve just had my first ever spray tan and look like an African tribeswoman.  The guys will crucify me. 

Received:

Don’t worry – I’ll tell them you’ve had your teeth whitened.

That evening, on returning home sticky, grubby and humiliated from the beauty salon, where I’d stood in a pod as an apparently pubescent beautician knelt at eye-level with my pasty, bare bottom, Drew asked if he could take some photos of me for when he might need cheering up.

My male work-mates were more subtle the next morning.  They just looked puzzled at each other whenever I spoke and when one passed my desk to go to lunch, he slowly and deliberately enunciated:  “Would…you…like…to…try…some…of…our…local…food?”

And I only realised after I’d stormed into the boss’s office barking: “I need a decision right now!” she was probably trying to remember when she’d recruited a mud-wrestler.

Since passing 50, I have become resigned to needing a little more help from the beauty industry unless I want to look a fright. I’m not unfeminine, but I’ve never had much interest in cosmetic upkeep and I’m baffled by the procedures and products.

No more so than on a recent European hotel and spa holiday where the salon staff spoke very little English. Probably thinking he’d hit on what any woman would want, Drew generously arranged for me to choose a ‘treatment’. I declined to have my feet nibbled by fish (after very little consideration) and instead opted for a type of manicure I didn’t understand. The options were ‘regular’ which I presumed was a file and polish I could’ve managed myself; ‘permanent’ which seemed like too much of a commitment and a mid-priced one I didn’t quite catch the name of, but which sounded the safest nonetheless.  Fortunately, being on holiday, I had no need for typing skills, but when I returned, it was evident the nails had to come off – somehow.  After a period of frustration, my daughter came to the rescue before I slammed my fingers in the door.

I never leave the house without mascara – people might think I’d been crying.

The moment I wake up, before I put on my makeup, I say a little prayer:  “Please let this go well and without me smudging a ruinous blob of mascara on my nose in the final moments.” I never leave the house without mascara – people might think I’d been crying, but it’s not enough anymore. There are literally dozens of things you should be putting on your mug in the morning if cosmetics companies are to be believed.

Makeup primer for example, is pretty pricey for a tiny amount of something you may have thought belongs in the shed with the undercoat and gloss. I asked a friend if she knew of such a thing and was told hers had lasted a couple of years. I took this as a good sign until she admitted never using it because she was unsure what it did.

I felt sure spritzer was a white wine drink. I’ve learned it’s some sort of spray to set my makeup.  As it turns out, a shot of hairspray works just as well according to a male friend  who also suggested using haemorrhoid ointment instead of lashing out on extortionately priced unctions to control the bags under my eyes.

Apart from the nails and reckless respray, eyebrow tinting is another salon treatment I was pressured to try when my own started to turn grey.  Over 50s must resist plucking random, grey eyebrow hairs or we end up looking like ancient Japanese aristocrats as our eyebrows don’t regrow.  Don’t throw away your tweezers though – you’ll need them for your chin.

Eyebrow mascara, according to one red-blooded work colleague, is a less expensive alternative to tinting and he wouldn’t be seen without his.  This nugget was passed to me in such a conspiratorial manner, I began to wonder if women aren’t being taken for fools here as there must surely be a think tank somewhere hatching pointless practices and merchandise with the purpose of defrauding women who are hopelessly trying to look youthful or worry about being found with only lip balm, sunscreen and mouth fresheners in their makeup bags.

Much as I welcome tips from men, daughters are the best for guiding the mature mum through the maze of makeup and accessories on the market as well as letting us know when we’ve got it wrong.  You’re not kidding my look needs updating – have you tried applying liner to loose-fitting eyelids wearing reading glasses? But it was helpful to have clarification regarding the brushes.  The biggest type is for agitating my foundation – was I supposed to be doing that? I now have two of those for when one’s in the dishwasher – does anyone else do that?  Another brush is for contouring – what even is that?

Although I’m slightly suspicious cosmeticians are collectively taking advantage of our insecurities by intimidation, I’m not suggesting starting a movement to reclaim our right to be preservative free.  I know I’d be left hanging.  But it now takes such effort and a chunk of time every day to look this natural and I really can’t get up any earlier than I already do.  And now when I tell him I’m nipping upstairs to do my ‘colouring in’ for an evening out, Drew is unsure whether to start the car or stick the kettle on.

He is patience personified however and completely understanding after a recent remark made by his little granddaughter.  Lying on his chest early one morning, she gently stroked his skin and asked:  “Grandpa – why is your face cracked?”

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Mother of the bride memories

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Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

I’m writing this in a Cretan hotel room early on the Friday morning before my daughter’s wedding.  The wedding gown, hanging on the door, hides here from view until Sunday when I have the privilege of dressing the bride, my beautiful girl, probably for the last time.

When I would dress her as a child, I never stopped to think of the time I would be helping her into the most important dress of her life.  I was instead negotiating an agreement on which outfit was most practical or appropriate before the last button was done up and she would slip from my grasp to change into something else, or even undress altogether on more than one occasion.

From a very young age, my daughter had her own ideas about what she wanted or didn’t want to wear, so it makes me smile when she looks at old photographs of herself and asks why I let her wear THAT?  These days I find myself  listening to her suggestions as to what I should wear and even gamely traipsed off to London with her before the wedding so that she could select my ‘Mother-of-the-Bride’ outfit, which turned out to be something completely different from what I had in mind.  I won’t be wafting around like Meryl Streep in Mama Mia after all and hopefully will bear no resemblance to anyone from My Big Fat Greek Wedding either.

When she was about 7 years old, after a particularly cheeky and wilful episode, she calmly sat at the end of the table, half-listening to my exasperated ranting – all directed at her.  She waited patiently until I had run out of steam, looked me up and down in my new outfit and asked: “So who told you orange goes with pink?”  I suppose she had a point.

I wonder if choosing a hot country for her wedding has a subliminal connection to how she was swaddled  as a winter newborn and left in her moses basket close to a radiator, so afraid was I that my first baby would freeze.  She’s lucky I didn’t cook her! And as a toddler she would be wrapped in layers of woolies, gilets, padded coats, gloves, hats and scarves until she wobbled like a weeble – remember them?

I remember those moments when she would wait to be called with her dance classmates, all in pink leotards singing hand-clapping songs together:

When Susie was a teenager/A teenager she was/And she’d say/Ooh ah!/ I lost my bra/I left my knickers in my boyfriend’s car.

That line somehow found its way into the innocent version of  When Susie Was she’d learned and when asked why Susie would’ve lost her underwear, she suggested Susie must have been changing for ballet.  Obviously

Susie had a busy after-school schedule of dancing, piano lessons, gym club and swimming too.

I have so many memories of vibrant dance wear and swift backstage struggles to switch between costumes before the next dance piece and her uncomplaining compliance as arms went up in the air to have one creation whipped off before the next was pulled on, balancing on one foot, then the next to change dance shoes beneath a wide width of tutu or diaphanous folds of flowing fabric.

I remember our battles over sensible school shoes, just as I had battled with my mother and later the urge to throw a cardigan around her when she and her friends would be getting ready in her room for a night out, wearing less than I would wear to bed.

And now as we all gather here in Greece to celebrate my daughter’s marriage, I remember what I have gained since she came into my life when protecting my fragile baby was uppermost in my mind, much like the delicate wedding dress and veil in my care now.  As others gasp at the stunning bride, I will congratulate myself for creating someone as breathtaking as she is to look at, but the credit for her beauty is not mine as it radiates from within her and shows in her pretty face, her ready smile and her ever sparkling eyes.  Mine, no doubt, will be brimming with tears.

 

What Goes Through Your Mind at a Funeral?

 

what Goes Through Your Mind at a Funeral? closetdramabog - wordpress
Photo by Firesky Studios on Unsplash

 

Be honest.  What goes through your mind at a funeral?

If, like me, you have been attending them from a young age, you might find yourself thinking about funerals you’ve been to before the one you happen to be attending at that moment. If so, does it make you feel guilty to realise you have been remembering someone other than the person whose life you are supposed be celebrating?  I’m not saying I compare them you understand, rather I’ve noticed that funerals don’t get any easier the more experience of them you have and, if anything, they have a cumulative effect.

Painful as they are, we feel compelled to arrange and attend funerals as a mark of respect and from a need to make sense of our loss.  Despite knowing every life surely must come to an end, our minds mostly have difficulty accepting that someone who was here with us, suddenly is no longer and so we gather together with our thoughts.  But while thoughts are private and individual, are they really that much different from the thoughts of our neighbour?

I’ll admit my mind has wandered to wondering what’s so wrong with flowers these days?  We are often told, ‘family flowers only’ and a donation to a relevant charity may be made via the funeral director instead.  I don’t disagree with collecting money for a charity in memory of anyone, but flowers make a funeral smell good and give us something fresh and beautiful to look at while trying not to lapse into morbid imaginings.  Would you admit to staring at a coffin and picturing  what lies under the lid?  If you ask me, it’s difficult not to, no matter how wrong it seems.

In the five years since we have been together, Drew and I have been to eight funerals.  We are starting to lose count now, it might be nine, but even for people in their fifties, that’s a fair few.  All of them have been at churches or crematoria, so I can’t comment on any other type, but the tradition of congregating with a coffin before you surely means there are others picturing a cold corpse too.  So I’m in favour of flowers, especially atop a coffin – lots of tastefully, expertly arranged flowers.  But please not those floral tributes spelling out ‘Mum’ or ‘Grandpa’ or whoever. Seriously, if only ‘family flowers’ are allowed, make a good job of it; spelling out names or other words in flowers belongs in municipal parks or similar, not at funerals.  Just put their name on the card!

At a funeral, I always feel it’s best to have a look at the order of service before the proceedings commence and be prepared for the choice of music.  I have often tried to figure out what lies behind the musical choices and make the lyrical connection between the deceased and the song or hymn – which isn’t always particularly obvious.  I heard once that Robbie Williams was aghast at the popularity of his song ‘Angels’ when selecting funeral music although it seems a perfectly appropriate choice to me.  However, the popularity of Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ has rendered it a cliche which is embarrassingly inappropriate if the deceased led a conventional life in the town where he or she was born, working for the local authority for example.  Though to be fair, that choice would almost certainly have been made by the deceased themself and who would argue with a last wish?

A word of warning here: if you choose music for a loved one’s funeral, think carefully about how often you might hear it again when you hadn’t been expecting to.  The sudden, unforeseen loss of my father when I was still a girl was the hardest thing I have ever lived through and it affects me still, almost forty years later.  It catches me unawares sometimes, especially when I happen to hear a particular piece of music which was played at his funeral, a piece I couldn’t hear for many years without silent tears streaming down my face.

When Elton John asked Bernie Taupin to revise the lyrics to his song ‘Candle in the Wind’ to be sung at the funeral service of The Princess of Wales, he vowed he would never perform it again afterwards.  No doubt this was to save himself from many distressing moments as well as protecting her sons from having to  endure hearing the saddest song of their young lives again.

You may have reached the stage when, at a funeral, you begin to consider what you would want at yours.  I know I have.  Were you so impressed or moved by a little touch that you have earmarked the idea for your own service? Cardboard coffin? Your portrait on an easel perhaps?  Flowers?  I want lots of lovely flowers.  And just to be sure, the music I’ve chosen is ‘The Flower Duet’ (Duo des fleurs) from Delibes’ opera, ‘Lakme’.  I don’t expect many people I know will follow the words because they’re sung in French, which is just as well. It ends with …

‘descendons ensemble’.