So I have a ridiculous story for you, but I can’t tell you any details or kind people will lose their jobs. Stay with me.
The thing is, in college, I wore this perfect shade of lipstick. And I needed to find it again. And I will go to great lengths because this week the lip color is empirical and the struggle is real.
The color of the lipstick… let’s call it Perfect.
And the top secret makeup counter… let’s call it Makeup Counter.
And the woman… let’s call her JuJu. Because her name was actually similar.
So I went to Makeup Counter. And this woman came from behind the counter, and she spoke to me in her broken English-Asian accent. “Hello! My name is JuJu! I help you?”
“Hi, I’m Trish.” (I am practicing that being my name.)
“How I help you, Trish?”
“Well, I’m in search of this lipstick that I wore in college, which was just… a few years ago. And so you might not have it. But it’s called Perfect and I’m in search of it because I’m getting married on Saturday.”
“Oh! You get married! You so cute! Congratulations!” Except she said, “Congwadjewatiooons!”
“Yes, thank you. So the color is called Perfect. Do you have it?” I was kind and gracious, but also to the point. Because, you guys, lipstick.
“Perfect? It start with P?”
She disappears behind the counter, and I begin perusing second choice colors, just in case Perfect is a thing of the past. She came back and she said, “No, we no have Perfect.”
“Ah, sad day. Okay. Then let’s find something else that will work.”
She brings her magic spray that makes all the germs go away on sample lipstick tubes, and we set about the task. I’ll try this one. No, it’s a little too pink. No, this one’s a little too raisin. No, this one’s a little too grape. No, this one is a little too rose. No, no… and each time, I’m wiping off the bad color so I can start with a fresh palette. My lips were a little worked over at this point.
But then – THEN – I found this perfect shade. It looked just perfect. I said, “JuJu! I think we’ve found it! This is perfect!” And I look at the bottom of the tube to see what it’s called, and lo’ and behold, it’s Perfect. It’s the The One I’ve been looking for and writing sonnets about for seventeen years.
She said, “Oh, that the one? Yes, but we no have that.”
“You don’t have what?”
“This? This color?”
“Right. We no have it.”
“Yes, you do.”
“No, we no have it.”
“I’m holding it in my hand.”
“Yes, even though you have it, we no have it.”
“You don’t have this.” I hold it up. To gesture directly to what she doesn’t have.
“Right. We no have”
“Yes, you do.”
“No, we no.”
“But you have this one.”
I need to add more words to this happening dialogue. “So, you don’t have this. Then can I have this? Like, this one?”
“Yes. You can give it to me, right? You don’t even have to give it to me. I’ll buy it. Or—I know! I’ll buy a different color to use on a different day, and you can give me this Perfect Color for my Perfect Day.”
She narrows her eyes. “No. I no sell it.”
“Then you could give it. To me.”
“No. It gross. People use.”
“No, no! It’s not gross. Because see? You have your magic spray and you already took all the germs away, and it’s good. I already put it on, and now my germs are the ones on the top. You can just give me this.” I watched her thinking. I knew I was breaking her germ-free Makeup Counter resolve.
“JuJu, you just give me the lid, and I’ll put it in my bag, and we’ll be done.”
“Aha! No lid. It has no lid, and that is why I no sell.”
“No problem, I don’t need a lid. Please. I need this color.”
She leaned into whisper. “You tell nobody?”
“Nobody.” (Just, you know, these several thousand few who will read the story online.)
“You tell someone, I have no job.”
“But I won't. And you'll have your job, and I’ll have good lipstick. Perfect, in fact.”
She thrust it into my Bath & Body Works bag. “There. You go now. You go. Look pretty.”
And so now I have the most perfect lipstick in all the land, and I will forever call it perfect even though it’s been worn and tested by millions of women, and the science of that makes it one of the grossest things I have.
(Except for the time that I found a tube of lip gloss in the parking lot of WalMart and I could tell even from an aerial view that it was the color I needed and so I tested it on my hand and indeed it was perfect. So I kept it. And I never once had a single adverse reaction on my face. Only glorious, pristine shine.)
Sometimes I do gross things.
But you guys, lipstick.
p.s. Peter said, “And you kiss me with those lips... Just maybe don’t tell me all your stories, babe.”