Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Lipstick

Early Fall 2001

I was in Northern Michigan, in the idyllic resort town of Harbor Springs, nestled safely into Little Traverse Bay.  It was such a strange time. I was still in college  living in my college town, working as a substitute teacher and an ESL tutor to the grad students, and actively trying to persuade my parents to send me back to school for a second degree.

I made my own schedule, and that's why my father called to ask if I would make the three-hour drive up to Harbor Springs. They needed somebody to watch my twelve-year old brother. My stepmother's father was  dying; he was such a sweet, kind man.
Her father was in a hospital near Detroit, and they wanted to go down to be with him, but didn't want to take my brother out of school during his first days of 6th grade.

Of course I would help, I said, and besides, there is almost nowhere in the world, prettier than Harbor Springs in the fall. That and the fact that I knew my faaaaaaaaaaaaabulous twerp of a little brother had gotten his hands on a limited edition of Cover Girl's Glitter & Shine long-lasting lipstick in soda pop pink!  A lipstick that  I coveted, a lipstick that SOLD OUT  and was GONE from every target in my area. I was lusting over a lipstick, and I was about to try and con it off a twelve year old boy.

My father and stepmother and  Ab Fab of a little brother, previously lived in Chicago and kept a
vacation home in Harbor Springs. Being that they lived right downtown Chicago, and could not find a suitable school to contain my brother's trademark sparkle & Sass, (The Latin School did not know what they were missing!), and for the fact that the "Sass" came in the bizarre form of a pre-adolescent, cherubic boy demanding more sushi and more shopping, and constantly making it known that you were "talking to his plastic diamond encrusted  hand"...........
...........My parents then decided that Chicago was a bad influence on such a growing boy as he, and made the leap from city to country. Ahhh, Harbor Springs, where a boy can run free in the meadows , swim the icy cold waters, yodel his way through the forest, with nary a Barneys in sight.

So I drive up to Harbor Springs to babysit.
Oh! Once in college, I drove up to Harbor Springs in "Snowball",  my little, white convertible with the top down, and my guinea pig and his giant cage in the back seat. I wore a dramatic scarf around my head and must have looked a liiiiiitle bit crazy. It was AWESOME! One of the best days in my life!

And also, once, my boyfriend Roger drove me to Harbor Springs, and I insisted that we bring my hamster Butterball with us for the weekend. So, Roger seat belted Butterball's cage into the back, and when we arrived, we found that Butterball has chewed CLEAR THROUGH the seatbelt of his BRAND NEW (total cuteness Eddie Bauer Explorer), and he was now sitting in a giant nest. Made from brand new, total ex-cuteness Eddie Bauer Explorer seatbelt.  OOOOPS!

I arrived, my parents left, and there we were, just  me and my little Judy Garland. So first thing, I'm like: "Look, where's the lipstick? I know you have it."
And the kid is like: "Weeeeeeeeeeell, I'll show it to you, but you can't have it!"
So I say: "Fine, just show me the lipstick", and try to come up with a way to make it MINE.

My brother takes me up to his way too precious "Up North Chic" bedroom.
Plaid Polo wallpaper, bunk beds made from logs,  some kind of stuffed animal moose head hanging on the wall. He looks around to make sure we're alone, then crawls under the bed, and re-emerges a minute later with a very large, plastic, silver-looking container. "What is THAT?"I say.
"It's a time capsule" he says.

Turns out, when somebody gives you a time capsule kit, the best thing to do with it is say "TO HELL WITH SELF PRESERVATION AND HISTORY!" and then make it into a secret makeup kit.
The kid pops open the time capsule and makeup just pours, POURS out.  My jaw drops, my eyes become transfixed. I drool.

This is not just ANY makeup. No, no, no!  This is not like MY make up from Target. This Chanel lipstick and Borghese powder and Lancome mascara and Guerlain  and Givenchy and Dior!
Each piece, carefully nicked from his Mother's makeup table, or hoarded as the free gifts with purchase came rolling in.

And there, in the middle of all this nice makeup, was the lowly drugstore lipstick, the Cover Girl Glitter & Shine long-lasting lipstick in soda pop pink!  And that twerp WOULD NOT give, nor trade it with me for ANYTHING. And.....AND....he said that my mascara made my eyelashes look like spiders! HUMPH!

So, I huffed and and angrily puffed my way downstairs, and left him there with his damn "time capsule".

Thirty minutes later, I hear stomp-stomp-stomp.............
And turn to find my completely faaaaaaaaabulous brother, slinking his way  down the stairs. Stopping on each tread to freeze and do some FIERCE model posing.

There he was, wearing his mother's terry bathrobe, donning a TURQUOISE WIG, done up in two ponytails , adorned with two scrunchies. YES......SCRUNCHIES.  It was like Liza Minnelli, but from the 4th dimension.

So there was no way that I could stay mad at this kid after that, and I was all like: "Take your wig off and go to bed!"

The next morning, little Liza got ready for school. It was uneventful until he bent over.
"Girl," I said, "WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!?" pointing to some strange thong looking piece of clothing with a yellow smiley face on.

"Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? It's just a thong" my brother said. "I can wear whatever I want"!
Do your parents let you wear thongs I said? And of course, he's like...."No. But  don't tell"!
And I said: "No! Go upstairs and change!" And he wouldn't, and I was young and had no authority and it was getting late so I said: "Fine! Just...just....don't bend over at school!"

(Good babysitting. Huh?)

And just when I thought it could not get anymore strange faaaaaaabulous, I hear clunk , clunk, clunk. And back into the kitchen shuffles my lil' bro, wearing a gorgeous pair of platform, wedge-heel PRADA espadrilles, stollen from his Mother!

"FREEZE!" I say. "Stop. You can't wear Mom's shoes to school. No."
And that's when Judy throws a middle-school sized fit. "
(And back then, not being a parent, I had no super powers to defend against fits. Especially middle-school fits.)
"Fine! Fine! Just....just....put them in your backpack and ONLY take them out for emergencies." I say.

I was powerless, I just wanted to get him to school on time. That was my main job, I had to carry on!
As we drove towards the Middle School, I remember that it was a gorgeous day. The morning sun was  warm, and the trees...they were just perfection. As the kid brother ran out of the car I called after him..... "And REMEMBER! DON'T. BEND. OVER!"

I still sometimes think about that lipstick.......

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