I can’t even tell you how bad I wanted this to work for me. Look at it.
Look at the packaging.
Look how it works with other primary colors.
Look how it graces a cup.
But it didn’t look anything like this on me, it didn’t look good at all, so I called my friend Amy. She’s raven-haired and aqua-eyed and blah blah. I was like, ok, that perfect red you keep saying you want? I think I have it. My mother-in-law gave it to me for Mother’s Day. I love her so much and I love that she risked a color, a red, a perfect red called “poppy,” and I love the packaging and how the natural waxy-wax smells but I can’t. I just can’t. It’s everything wrong for me. It’s like when I pierced my nose a few years ago. I wanted that to work so bad. Looking back, I think what I really wanted was for my face to rearrange around some new point, like a new pin on a map, so I would look on the outside the way I was feeling on the inside. I mean, I was in an MFA program at the time. I was writing a lot, I was carrying around one of those recycled Rolling Stone purses with Lenny Kravitz on both sides. That kind of thing.
Nothing like that happened. I still had my regular face plus a stainless steel dot. Nothing wrong with that, it just wasn’t what I was going for. After a few weeks I thought maybe it would work if I had a ring, not a stud, so to be cautious, instead of wasting money on an actual nose ring, I gave it a test run with a hoop earring. Which, it turns out, was a geometry problem I hadn’t thought about in advance. Nose piercings are at a different angle than ear piercings. I guess. So it went up into skin that wasn’t previously pierced. Handily, I backed out and re-bent the wire. This went on. It must have been a Friday night because I remember thinking, upon waking the next day to the right side of my nose ballooned and pink, and just really bad-looking, I remember thinking ok, I’m gonna need the entire next 48 hours in the bathroom with peroxide to get to not looking like a public health hazard. I did it. Then I gave all my nose jewelry (not the hoop earring) to my sister-in-law Julie whose stud looks perfect and always has. Whatever. I got through it. This is always the right thing to do.
So Amy got the lipstick.
It looks perfect on her like I knew it would.
Then she started talking about the work she needs to submit for an upcoming writing retreat, and what should she do? Should she submit new stuff, or reworked stuff the instructor has already seen and liked? It’s a common dilemma. I knew what she wanted to hear. This is where I got to level the score.
No, I said, you don’t get to submit the same stuff because that’s just so you can get the nice thing of being affirmed. You can’t even submit similar stuff. You have to get risky and submit your fringe, an untested story or voice or whatever, and see what the instructor says, see what the group has to say. See what you get out of that. And you’ll probably end up having to let go of a thing you loved, a whole story or a crafty-craft technique you’re really excited about, probably something you love because you thought it would flatter you or rearrange you or whatever, but it doesn’t, and the more you hang on the pinker and more infected it gets. So get rid of it. Give it up and be better off. Amy seemed unconvinced so I read her cards.
Then she’s like, mmmm hmmmm, still not convinced. I left her sitting there at the Coffee Hag. That was a couple hours ago, and I AM NOT KIDDING YOU she just now sent me this:
Spoilers redacted, obviously, because we’re even. I mean she has my lipstick but all is well. Some people look supercute in extreme altruism, some look good in red.
BONUS: Here’s the Tarot interpretation Amy didn’t ask for but got. Applicable to all writers and wearers of makeup: 1) The World, reversed, means fulfillment turned upside down. Wrecked. A tidy thing undone. I guess that’s me upending Ms. Lipstick’s plan. 2) The Devil, reversed, is willing bondage that’s not doing you any good, any more. Time to let go of your plan and perhaps a rhythm that’s comfortable but kind of limiting. Confining. Limiting in a willing bondage kind of way. Which, in this case, isn’t working. 3) The Emperor, upright, means it’s time to move. Change. Something material, your home, your sense of home. Or, obviously in this case, your lips.
Darling, the next time I’m in Kato, you’re totally reading my cards. Because, I have that same poppy red and it looks depressing on me and I still try it every 6 months or so. We won’t even talk about the desire to pierce my nose.
Le coquelicot. Poppy. You, my friend in transgression and making reality conform to will, have given me my Rosie The Riveter red. And I gave you a scone. So, eternally, even.