In a house built in 1850
Full of antiques
Blown glass candlesticks
Dainty porcelain wonders
tiny beaded purses on the wall circa 1920s
gold makeup compacts with matching lipstick holders
and $870.00 worth of splendid vintage hats and antique hat boxes
Why didn't one of you stop me?
Hats. Did I mention hats?
There was something spooky about that house
and I was the only customer for two glorious hours, the owner on the porch talkin' small town politics. Oh, what a lovely afternoon.
Up the stairs I went....
past the blinking porcelain dolls that looked like dead babies and spying family photographs on the wall (you know the kind where you swear the eyes are following you) to gleefully discover a tiny closet
on the side of the chimney way in the back
full of boxes
Something. Someone. Made me try them on.
All. Of. Them.
Last I checked I was a grown woman. Past grown. Waaayya waaaayyy past....never mind. Just past. That's all you need to know. So why do I do these things? What possesses me to unpossess myself? Goddess of Priss. There is nothing that can touch me in that Venus laden universe. It's a curse!
I could not stop at one. Oh no. I had to wear the blue one (my favorite) the white one (my favorite) the straw hat with the red flower (my favorite) the fabulous black and white wide-brimmed (my favorite) the pink one!!!! (my favorite!!) Quiet! Listen. Someone might be coming.
I blame my mother.
All through my adolescence our house was filled with pink bottles of Mary Kay and Beauty Control cosmetics. They were everywhere.
Cutting green eyes. Blond hair. Chiseled bone structure. Petite. Turn-a-man's-head-kinda-lovely. Confident. You- have-the-prettiest-mother-in-the-school-mom. A light-haired beauty she was. In some ways on the outside we were different as honey blond and auburn, green eyes and brown. Underneath the surface, well....we were diametrically different, except in one regard: The priss, my friends, does not fall far from the tree.
While most girls in the seventies were being taught to bake brownies and pies, I would walk out of a room in my house only to be met with lipstick shades of every color in the rainbow perched on a little palette of colors and a brush that tickled my lips attached to my mother's fingers like a cigarette lover clutches a smoke.
I, believe it or not, was her living breathing mannequin for all things creamy and rouge-like. "Mimi! Stand still!" My sister ran screaming from her.
I learned to pucker.
But the lessons I learned at my mother's fingertips were in no way the lessons she intended for me. While she experimented with the surface, I began even more to listen to the inside. It was rebellion of the most intrinsic kind. I wanted to be deeper than the powder she applied, stronger than facades, authentic all on my own thank you very much. I didn't want her to cover up the real me. My transparent nature drove her crazy. And while I treasure the part of her that taught me pride and priss and womanly virtues, I learned that love painted on with a thin thin brush is never permanent. Mannequins are such shallow creatures you know. I don't think she ever understood that the part I couldn't wash away was the part I really wanted to own.
I'm not sure she ever has.
So I find it not strange, really, that my radar is drawn to closets of hats. And that something as simple as forgetting my earrings can ruin an otherwise wonderful day. Bring on the lipstick and splash on the powder. They are as much a part of who I am as the feel of fingers laced with rouge.
Twist the tube and strap on a pair of heels at the end of a long long skirt that can go for miles and miles in my memory. For I have come to realize that I am strongest and most myself when sprinkled with pallets of color and blushing things.
Sometimes they cover a girl.
Sometimes they hold a woman.
They are always