Thursday, May 14, 2009

Break from Finals

At Mac Cosmetics, Boston, they don’t let you leave ugly. In fact, they want to make you happy even if you’re not going to buy any of their products.

I discovered this one night while drooling over the unaffordable new spring fashion on Newbury Street. I walked into the empty make-up store where gossipy girls sat around looking grey with boredom. Greeted by a woman dressed in all black with eye makeup that looked like neon green lasers were coming out of her eyes.

“Do you know what you want, hun?” she asked.
“I don’t know” I laugh. “Probably a change.”

The loud-mouthed lass guides me to sit on a movable bar stool. She tells me she is going to give me a special surprise. It’s showtime. An older rigid woman wheels a black cart that holds a rainbow pallet of eyeshadows, lipsticks, and more. My makeup artist reaches for my face smearing concealer all over it. She dramatically applies it on. She takes a small fluffy brush out of a pouch of brushes wrapped around her waist. Gently she applies a creamy eyeshadow that feels like liquid cashmere. She repeats this again and again until she has covered my entire face. My hands sweat as I wonder if I am going to lie to her if she makes me look garish or like a drag queen. When finished she stands me up, demanding the gaze of every eye in the place. I hear an explosion of applause while I open my eyes and look into the mirror. Is that me?

I thank my miracle worker makeup artist. She tells me to come back anytime especially if I need my makeup done for a special event or just for a Saturday night out. I turn on to Newbury Street, dodging glances while walking down the street. I can get used to this superficial treatment... Actually I couldn't, but do like pampering myself.

Free, Fun, and Somewhat Frightening

Feathery hair fuzz blows off my right shoulder. I am sitting in a stylist chair at Vidal Sassoon. I have signed up to be a hair model because I need a haircut and it’s free. All I have to do is hand over my head of brunette hair to the mercy of a stylist. Richie greets me and tells me he’s going to give me a fabulous new look. A woman with asymmetric hair asks if she can get me tea or coffee. I grind my teeth, hoping my hair remains one length. First thing that happens is I become blonde. Excitement yelps me out of my seat. Fear chases it with the vague statistic of how bad bleach is for hair. That one out of a hundred bleach jobs cause a fatal reaction where your hair completely falls out. The bleach ingredients are made. I entrust myself entirely.

Whenever you go out for free anything there's always a risk. With hair, they expect you to be open. You have become their blank canvas and they are creating a new you. The results most of the time are impressive. The first time I went to Vidal Sassoon they dyed my hair the color of chili peppers. I felt instantly refreshed and new.

I’ve seen disappointment form on the faces of girls with blue hair and bowl haircuts.

Luckily, I like my new hair. Richie adds a streak of pink. The results look striking like a semiprecious stone surrounded by starchy white rocks. It was an adventure.