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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Red Lipstick

Have you ever tried using a more neutral color?” my friend, Diane, asked me, as she perused my burgundy lip gloss.  I sensed some intrinsic motivation on her question. The fashion gurus were forecasting nude lipstick colors—which promised a more natural look for the wearer.

I cared less about the year’s beauty trends. 

“Red is a classic color,” I replied, flashing a crooked smile. 

“That’s true. I guess it goes well with your skin tone.”

I shook my head, thinking that Diane had little business intermeddling in my lipstick preference, knew nothing of my makeup routine, for that matter. 

In the morning I’ll  typically pause a few seconds in front of a mirror to inspect the glossy red smile of the woman looking back at me.  And I think that this is the woman I want for others to see—pleasant and self-confident. 

“Have you seen Carla’s lips?” Diane asked me, motioning toward a lady sitting in a wheelchair.  The lady sat quietly, observing birds gracefully flying about, while others stood on limbs, happily chirping at one another in the bird aviary.  

Carla was a new resident in the nursing home. She had already caught the attention of the staff due to one particular factCarla wore red lipstick at all times, day and night. 

“I know she likes to wear lipstick,” I said as I glanced at Carla.

“No, not that!” Diane countered. “Go and take a closer look.”

I frowned, intrigued. I walked toward Carla. 

“Hi Carla!” I exclaimed, and smiled.

Carla turned her head and looked directly at me. She flashed a sparkly smile, outlined by her red, cosmetically coated lips.  I noticed the crooked trail of lipstick applied haphazardly on and about her thin and worn lips.  Red smears were displayed around the corners of Carla’s mouth. 

Notwithstanding, Carla exuded confidence.  She was evidently unaware of what others may have considered to be the imperfect application of her lip makeup.

Like me, I surmised that Carla found delight in the ritual of applying red lipstick daily. With one differenceCarla did not use a mirror. 
Carla’s arthritis had significantly afflicted her hands. Trying to hold the small lipstick tube with her damaged fingers was enough of a struggle that must have dispensed by necessity the use of a hand mirror.  Poor mobility must also have precluded her use of the vanity mirror and, even if she could reach it, her age had stolen her once keen eyesight. 

Nonetheless, I learned that Carla was quite pleased in her routine of applying her lipstick.

Perhaps as she did, evoking thoughts of her younger days, I mused.
“Carla, I like your lipstick,”  I said, sincerely.  I looked beyond the crookedly applied lipstick lines and saw the younger woman I hoped Carla envisioned as she ritually drew the lines across her tender lips. 

“Thank you!” Her face lit up.  The red hue on her lips seemed to brighten.

“Red lipstick is my favorite too.”  Had I not anticipated to find out so much in common with Carla. 
From that day forward, I visited Carla daily with a special mission—to help her put her lipstick on.  In exchange, she treated me with enjoyable recollections of events from her life.  Her reminiscing was so delightful and rich in details that my thought of Carla checking herself in the mirror as I do daily, came to my mind again with clarity. 

Fond memories of Carla flooded my mind recently as I was reading a fashion webpage:

“Classic Red Lips. Nothing screams feminine, or sexy like red lips. While there are a lot of new lipstick trends out turning heads right now, the classic red lipstick look has been around forever, but its timeless sophistication has proved itself as a fashion staple now, and probably forever.”*



Ann said...

What a beautiful story. I love all your stories! Red lipstick is classic. And nothing beats classic.

Libby said...

...oh, doris, you always write about people so well, i feel like i'd recognize them on the street!

Unknown said...

This is one of your classic stories which shines.

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Doris,

Well, good for you that you are giving Carla back her 'smile' and above all; her GRACE! That is so thoughtful of you for doing this. Those are little daily rituals, for as long as we will manage to do so. In extending those graceful days to a lady like Carla does crown you once more! Yes, and with that crown you must wear red lipstick! You're exotic looking anyway with an olive complextion that others might only envy...

Lots of love,


dolorah said...

Its amazing how simple things bring confidence and comfort. You gave Grace dignity and endearing personality. A memory to be fond of.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Doris .. that's a wonderful story and something so simple if we a) look and b) remember to meet everyone we care for where they are at - not where we're at.

Thanks - great story .. Hilary

Terri Tiffany said...

Another great story:) You always look deeper and that's what I love.

Anne Gallagher said...

I could never wear red lipstick but pink frost was always my favorite. Thanks for such an endearing post.

Claus said...

Oh man!... A tear always comes out every time I visit your page!! Such touching stories. God bless you for being there for them.
have a lovely day!!

Claus - who does not wear any makeup :-O

Michelle in a shell said...

How sweet! And yes- red lipstick is a classic. There's something about wearing it that makes me feel more confident

Jules said...

Doris, I sure hope they did not break your mold because I most definitely want someone just like you in my nursing home :)

Have a great weekend full of red lipstick :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Rita said...

Oh, I love it! It doesn't matter what color of lipstick she wore, it was the doing it with each passing day that mattered. I hope when I get to that point, I will still feel it is important to put on my lipstick each day whether it is straight or not. Precious stories that you share with us. Thank you so much for sharing them and please tell Carla to keep on putting it on!

dr.antony said...

Beautifully written,Doris.
It shines like your red lip stick !
Isn't it wonderful to see how easily you change the lives of others?

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

I LOVED your response to the drawings on my blog. Thanks for the laugh!

And by the way... You go, girl! There's much to be said for the "classics". A red lipstick-framed smile from a pretty woman in a little red Corvette makes me go wild--

--Uh-Oh!... I think I have another "Cyclops Worm from outer space" drawing comin' on!

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

A Plain Observer said...

I probably wear lipstick once a year...
I once took a class in communication in the work place that I found most helpful. In it I learned that unsolicited opinions should not be accepted. We are to tell a person who tells us they don't like our decorations in our office "I dont recall asking your opinion".
I am yet to use that line, but it seems appropriate sometimes

Holly Diane said...

Your blog always makes me smile and brings a warmth in my heart to know there are such kind people out there. I always felt too self concious to wear red lipstick so opted for pink..it's funny that make up can help us feel more confident ...or not.

Anonymous said...

There is so much to this story, Doris. You have helped her to have dignity, grace and beauty, and all because you share a love for red lipstick. Your sensitivity shines right through those beautiful red lips.

DUTA said...

Your attitude to Carla's lipstick is perfect, and so is your writing style.

It's hard to get rid of habits such as applying make-up or just lipstick ,even if we want to for some reason or another. Carla doesn't want to stop wearing lipstick and that's OK; no harm done.

Flame of the Forest said...

Beautiful story...That's really nice of you to help her...

Anonymous said...

LOL, great story!!

Mary Aalgaard said...

What a vivid picture you paint - in a bright shade of red, at that! I was thinking how a small act of kindness can open a flood of memories and wonderful conversation. Think I'll find my tube of red lipstick for this weekend!

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

Lip stick is the only make up I put on these days. I put it on before I go to school, after morning tea and lunch, the colors gone. Then I put on chap stick. Little kids don't bother, except some times 8 or 9 year old girls comment.

The Old Silly said...

What a lovely and touching story. Well written, too, I might add. ;-)

Marvin D Wilson

none said...

Seeing the good in others and looking upon them with empathy... what a wonderful message your story brings!

Deb Shucka said...

I love your ability to see the true beauty that shines beneath blurry lines, and the wonderful way you weave a story out of such a sweet event. I think I'll go see if I don't have some red in my drawer and give it a go.

Arkansas Patti said...

What a beautiful story and how special you are to give Carla reinforcement.
Hope someone like you is around in my later years. I do love my red lipstick.

Missed Periods said...

What an absolutely beautiful story! And such beautiful writing. Red is the only color I wear too.