My obsession with lipstick dates back around two decades ago. I was always fascinated by the way it made my aunt's lips the first thing I noticed when visiting her as a child. It left such an impression on everything. It made others hang on to every word that escaped her lips. It even left its heavy stain on the glasses she drank from and the silverware she ate from. It made such a statement that I wanted some of my own. Somehow I knew I would not be able to get my hands on any for myself though. Grown-ups have a way of letting children know that certain things are for grown-ups only so I knew none would be outright handed to me.
One day I came up with what then seemed like a novel idea. I made up in my mind that during the next visit, I would get some lipstick from my aunt without her knowing. The wheels of the plan were set in motion on the way to her house soon after. Upon arrival, I was so anxious I couldn't even sit still! While no one was looking I decided to sneak up to her room and find her makeup bag. It wouldn't be very hard, because when my mother went anywhere, she had four children with her. I was one of those four. No one would notice I'd be missing with three younger children to fuss over.
In the short moments that led to me being in this space and time, I had to make sure to remain unseen and quietly creep off into my curiosities. In record time, I found myself quietly closing her room door and spotting that bright red vintage makeup bag with the golden zippers. I carefully drew back the opening seams of that bag to uncover hidden treasures of honey brown-stained sponges, circular contraptions with "Fashion Fair" imprinted with gold strokes, black pencils with clear toppers and big fluffy brushes. I rummaged through the bag with my little curious fingers and large inquisitive eyes looking for the big prize.
Finding that single tube of lipstick immediately made me feel powerfully statuesque in all my 4 foot glory. Twisting the bottom of the cream colored tube and smearing the stick of burgundy color onto my lips made me very visible. In fact, it transformed me into quite the diva. Wearing it removed me from the blur that was "the four." It also gave me access to a secret of beauty among the women in my family. It was their way of being noticed in a room full of women without saying much. It was also a good way to get in trouble with my mama, had she caught me wearing it. It would be worth the risk though. After basking in the application of the lipstick and enveloping the magical, mystical feeling I imagined my aunties felt, I would wipe it away in a haste, without anyone noticing. Or so I thought. The haste of my mother's footsteps was much faster than the quick swipes of my forehand I thought would make me go back to being unnoticed. Too bad the color was so heavily pigmented, my lips were left stained with shame until my bedtime bath.
I had almost forgotten the burst of excitement I felt in that brief moment of time. My reflection in the illuminated mirror back in 1992 with a crimson grin dripping from my chin had nearly escaped me. It wasn't until I peeked into my bedroom twenty years later that I found that same bashful smile grinning back at me, one part proud yet one part afraid. I smiled to myself, and indeed let my reflection know I was amused by her new smile.
I didn't make her take it off, either. But I did inform her that I could see her just fine without it. I still wonder to myself, however, if she feels the same way about me.