Sunday, April 12, 2009

Turquoise Eye Shadow is For the Young

I attended a dress-up dinner party last night and decided to wear makeup. That probably doesn’t seem like such a big deal but there is a story here. About three years ago I wore makeup to a party. When I got home that night I looked in the mirror and had one of those awful moments of clarity where I saw that I was an aging woman who still made up her face as though she were 30 years old. Too much turquoise eye shadow, black circles around the eyes and just ridiculous.

I had that embarrassed, shameful, blush all over feeling and decided everyone at the party had spent all evening snickering behind my back, etc., etc. I did come to my senses and remembered that they all had lives, that my makeup and I were the least important things in their lives and I really could go out in public again. I also threw away all my makeup and decided I never needed to wear any again.

Last fall I was visiting friends in Grass Valley and we decided to go shopping. After an hour or so we found ourselves in front of the Oberon skin products store. We drifted inside and the owner suggested we try out the products, Oberon and Dr. Hauschka being the only two brands she sold. Dr. Hauschka skin care products have been used by the wealthy and the beautiful since 1967.

Next thing I knew I was in the chair, explaining that I no longer knew how to apply makeup and was turning myself over to her for a makeover. Well, she patted tinted moisturizer into my skin, lightly brushed subtle shades of taupe and vanilla on my eyelids, stroked white cover-up on the blue bruised looking patches between the inside corner of my eyes and my nose. Finally she applied a subtle red lipstick that was really a lip moisturizer. Eight hours later my lips were still soft and moist—a miracle. I usually use lip gloss at least twice an hour.

All the women exclaimed over the new, beautiful me then took their turns in the chair for a similar magical experience. I watched carefully, thinking I’d remember all this. I walked out of the store the proud owner of $136 worth of tinted moisturizer, Dr. Hauschka mascara (I think it’s very dark blue in deference to my age and naturally silver hair), three subtle shades of nearly no-color powdered eye shadow, a white pencil for covering up blue spots, a brush to apply something (what? It’s been six months) and several sponges for removing everything. I forgot to buy the lipstick. Darn!

When I arrived home I lined up all my new goodies in the bathroom and proceeded not to open any of them for six months until the fancy dress-up dinner party. Fortunately I allowed plenty of time for this operation. It took half an hour to get everything on my face and around my eyes. It took the store owner about 10 minutes. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at how subtly lovely I looked to myself. All the shame of my last makeup job was erased.

However, underneath that lovely face sits my neck, the skin on which is the definition of crepe. I cannot think of any cure for that neck but surgery, a life-threatening procedure I would never consider because of the cost. I admit I’ve caught myself thinking, “What the hell, a neck job wouldn’t be so awful if I had a disposable $20,000.” I mean, this is not the first time I’ve noticed my neck. But it just ain’t gonna happen. Even before the crash of the worldwide financial system there wasn’t even a remote possibility there would ever be that much disposable income in my life. Since the crash, the cats and I flip a coin to see who buys food each week.

So I’ll just wear makeup every once in awhile and pretend like I don’t notice my neck. And maybe it’s time to read Nora Ephron’s book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck.”

If you’re interested, here is the website for the rich and beautiful .

Saturday, April 4, 2009

You say klarr-RAY, I say KLARR-it

On a recent visit to Davis, Calif., I enjoyed a splendid glass of wine in a local bistro, a 2006 claret from Newton vineyards. Claret is a blend, a Bordeaux type red wine, and a wine I remember fondly from the late 1970s and early 1980s. I quit drinking alcohol in 1982 and when I began having the occasional glass of wine with dinner 20 years later there was no claret. It had fallen out of fashion. I missed it and have been happy to see it showing up again. Hurrah.

So, I recently stopped in at a liquor store with a good rep and a wine shop, both in Carson City. In both stores I asked for Newton claret (KLARR-it) and in both stores the clerk repeated it back to me as klarr-RAY. In the first store I let it pass, but in the second I said, “Actually, its KLARR-it.” I’ve been noticeably cranky lately.

I got a bit sniffy about it and for several days had numerous biting discussions in my head and with my bathroom mirror over this bastardization of a perfectly good word.

Then I thought, “Well hell, maybe they changed the pronunciation since the 1970s and early 1980s,” although I did briefly remember that in the restaurants where I’ve been served that lovely wine they still pronounce it KLARR-it.

So I looked up the word online, then in the “American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,” Third Edition, and finally, in “The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary” published in 1971, the latter being a free gift I received for joining the Book of the Month Club way back then.

Claret is an English word and it is still pronounced KLARR-it. According to Wikipedia “It has been coined from the [French word] clairet, a now uncommon dark rose which was the most common style of wine exported from Bordeaux until the 18th century. Claret is a protected name within the European Union for describing a red Bordeaux wine; it was accepted after the British wine trade demonstrated over 300 years’ usage of the word.”

Wikipedia goes on to explain that the Plantagenet kingdom, covering England and much of France from 1152 to 1453, encouraged wine trade and the development of English taste for this wine, adopting the French word clairet to describe it. And now that I know I’m right, I can stop making sure everyone else knows I’m right, damnit.