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Learning From the Best

Five months before I’d turned forty, I’d made an appointment with Susan at Sephora.

I was desperate. I didn’t want to look forty when I was forty.

I was hoping Susan could help.

Susan introduced me to primers. Eyelash primers, eye shadow primers. Stuff that goes on your face before you put the actual other stuff on your face. I’d had no idea. Susan started talking slower…

Nearly an hour later, sticker shock finished me off. Surely I didn’t need a $16 eye pencil sharpener. Or a $22 eye pencil. Or mascara primer. Did I? Susan looked at me like I was a toddler trying to run away without my pants. She said she thought she could find me an eye pencil sharpener for $12.  And I’d said, “okay.”

I knew now why we talked an awful lot about inner beauty. It was cheaper.

Before Christmas this year Raven started asking about makeup. Would I buy her some? Could we look at some? Could we talk about buying some? I stuttered to make a complete sentence. “Uh…yeah,” I’d told her. “We could do that.” But then I wondered who the “we” was that I’d just volunteered.

When I was in the seventh grade, I was buying blue Cover Girl eye liner and Bonne Belle lip gloss from Payless with my own money. What makeup wisdom did I have for Raven?

I didn’t take Raven to Sephora or Ulta or even Rite Aid. But her heart swooned as though I had when she unwrapped a makeup kit for Christmas. “Practice all you want,” I’d said. “This is a safe place.” I’d pointed at each of us in the living room, and we’d grinned like her biggest fans. She’d nodded and disappeared into the bathroom.

Silas reported how it was going. “Raven needs some help.”

We waited.

Raven walked from the bathroom, four years older than she’d gone in.

We smiled. We offered suggestions. Like maybe the cat eyes could be less cattish.

She smirked in agreement. Disappeared again. This time with Silas.

And then, dear me, I witnessed this.

And then I got a hold of myself when I saw this.

“She’s in good hands,” I thought. “Maybe the best.”


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