Saturday, November 11, 2006

colouring in

As I walk through Boots I ponder one of the make-up counters. I pick up something that I saw in a friend's bathroom yesterday and examine it, trying to decide whether I actually want it or if I'm just being sucked in by the packaging. It's the packaging, I decide. It gets me every time. Perhaps I should have become a graphic designer and spent 'all day designing perfume boxes' as my art teacher warned when I was 16. The contents of the packaging are brown eyeshadows in colours that I have already, and don't wear often because I think they look slightly peculiar with my neither-green-nor-blue eyes.

A lady appears; as if from nowhere. Can I help you?' she asks. 'No thank you' I say, dropping the box as though it has suddenly become hot. 'They're lovely aren't they?' she adds brightly. I nod non-commitally. They look like brown eyeshadow to me, and I have trouble with describing brown things as lovely, unless they are foodstuffs.

'Would you like to see how they work?' She asks. 'Would I?' I wonder. Well, I'm not doing anything else, and she seems keen. She sits me on a stool, and begins to remove my hastily applied green eyeliner. I worry that she is only going to do one eye and that I will spend the rest of the day walking around with one green eye and one brown. I do not want to look that foolish. Fortunately she removes the eyeliner from both eyes, only poking me in the eye once, and begins to apply the make-up. I watch her in the mirror, on the basis that she might know more about putting it on than me. I am an amateur. I have never quite got past the idea that make-up is worn by Other Women. When I go out wearing lots it feels as though I am someone else, although sometimes that is the whole point.

Once the eyeshadow is on it looks OK (though it still doesn't really go with my not-quite blue-nor-green eyes). I am quite impressed, and feel informed; especially on the subject of blending (use your fingers). Then she starts adding other stuff to my face. Foundation. High Beam Something-or-Other. Blusher. This is a step too far for me. She says she is 'adding some colour' to my face. 'I quite liked it the colour it was' I think silently, and try to edge off the stool. She shows me myself in the mirror. I am slightly yellow, and look like a slapper.

I smile politely and say thank you. 'Are you going to treat yourself?' she asks. 'Not right now' I say, and bolt for Superdrug where I buy make-up remover and scrub off the layer of yellowness. Later I go back past the counter and a different lady pounces. 'Have you come back to buy something?' she asks 'Your make-up looks lovely'. 'Not right now' I say, and run away to the relative safety of the hot water bottle section.