Not understanding the command fully I simply replied with an inquisitive look; right eyebrow raised high.
“Blot. You know. Blot,” she pressed her lips together in an overly dramatic fashion that annoyed me and wordlessly said “I can’t believe you don’t know what blotting is; everybody knows what blotting is; moron.”
“And just how many times do you think I’ve worn lipstick in my life?” My attempts at a reasonable retort were ignored as my eyebrows were colored dark with what looked like a brown crayon. Her eyes looked crossed and I could see up her nose as she stuck her tongue out in serious concentration. She had good, clean nostrils. I idly wondered if my rather prominent nose hairs were the next flawed component of my countenance to be altered. “Does this stuff come off?”
“Of course it does. Now be quiet; I can’t do your cheeks if you keep talking.”
I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror – or, rather, I caught a glimpse of someone who used to look vaguely like myself, now transformed into somewhat of a spectacle. I had never acted before. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. Not that what I was about to do could really be mistaken for actual acting, mind you, but if suffering through months of rehearsals to put on a show you are only mildly interested in to a crowd of individuals (numbering in the twenties, at most) who are only mildly interested in your effort in full stage makeup underneath exceedingly hot lights spouting lines that have become more like minute mechanical eruptions than actual dialogue from a script that only sparsely resembles something anyone should be even remotely intrigued by may be called acting, then, in some sense of the word, that’s what I did. It was a One-Act play, something I don’t even remember the name of, and I was the lead role. It helped that there were only three characters, and all were leading roles.
The only surviving line I can remember from thirty minutes of silliness is: “Candice,” (I’m not even sure that’s the name) “give birth!” The command was meant to threaten the landlord into letting the husband and wife stay, despite the fact that they had not paid their rent, because of some undeveloped plot twist that stated it was against the law for a landlord to kick out a couple with a newly born child. The entire plot centered around this husband and wife pair, one of which was pregnant, or supposedly pregnant, or not pregnant at all but pretending to be (I honestly can’t remember), who were to be thrown out of their lovely one room apartment by the evil Mr. Sammy (whose name was an adaptation of the actual name of the character in the play, which we could not pronounce; something that started with an “S”).
When she was finished she stood back with a look that was both proud and victorious. I remember her enjoying the whole ordeal much more than she should have. She took a perverse pleasure in painting me such that my face didn’t regain its natural tones for weeks afterwards.
The show ended more in relief than splendor. I received no roses, but a fair amount of applause for the effort (as much as a dark room of bored, obligated relations and teachers could muster). Backstage, amidst the exclamations of “thank God it’s over” from cast and crew, I tried to take the makeup off before I left the building. No one told me stage makeup was made of axle grease. I looked like Groucho Marx with the perfect drawn-on arches above my eyes. It’s no wonder so many chemicals are invented and peddled to the makeup wearing individuals of the world. This stuff was impenetrable. I was afraid if I scrubbed any harder I would rub my natural eyebrows off, and then I’d have to draw them back anyway, which would defeat the purpose, and so I stood in front of the too-bright mirror, lamenting my decision to sit still and be subjected to the tortures of the previous hour, carefully rubbing in the direction of the hair follicles, with my tongue stuck out and my long blonde nose hairs gleaming.
At least she didn’t get those. I smiled and laughed; at least she didn’t get the nose hairs.