Fashion Personal Essays Products

Me and My Lipstick

imagesI want to be that woman who cares as much about a lipstick’s name as its color. I do. Ok, truth be told, I want to be that woman who actually cares about her lipstick and doesn’t have the same one for a year because she rarely puts it on.

I recently attended a writing workshop, and the person leading asked everyone a question or two. And it wasn’t a small group either, so I admire her desire to know her audience. The woman next to me was wearing lipstick — red lipstick.

“What lipstick are you wearing? I love the color.”

“I’m wearing … ”

And they were off to the lipstick races. Naming colors and makers of lipstick as if they were reciting a memorized Emily Dickinson poem. Reverence. Rembrance. Historically significant.

I sat stunned. I have at any given moment maybe three or four lipsticks. I have no idea about the names of any of them. The only lipstick name I know is Fire and Ice, which I wore in the seventh grade because it was the only lipstick the Seventh Grade Mean Girls Police would allow any of us to wear, so the name is engraved in the fear section of my brain, which is never far away from my present self.

I peeked into my bag and looked at the name of my lipstick. Oh, I forgot to mention that they also knew who made it. I read Bobby Brown Ruby Sugar Lip Gloss.

Bobbi Brown Ruby Sugar Lip Gloss.

Everything that had been hazy became clear.

No one who is me should buy Ruby Sugar Lip Gloss. First of all, sugar is poison, a vice I struggle with every day. Putting it on my lips? What the f— was I thinking? And it’s just another in a series of details that I need to address in my life. Like going through my closet and throwing out every single thing that doesn’t make me feel really good when I’m wearing it. Every single thing.

Second and perhaps more importantly, I need to be a Chanel girl, not a Bobby Brown girl. I’m sixty-one years old for God’s sake. Do I wear miniskirts? But Bobbi Brown is right near the door of Bergdorf, and it’s the first counter I see when I shop there, so it made perfect sense when I bought it.

The details, girlfriends. God is in the lipstick details, I tell you. And if we paid closer attention to those details, instead of spreading ourselves thin, we would be stronger women with a better sense of our lipstick selves.

So I went to do the homework. I Googled “Chanel Lipsticks.” I found Aqualumiere. Yes, it’s true that Aqualumiere isn’t an actual word, but let’s face it — that might perfectly reflect the true me. I’m not sure who, what, or where I am either, so we may be simpatico, Aqualmiere and I.

Then I found a site that actually reviews all things lipstick, and it had some very interesting things to say. Some of Chanel’s lipsticks, for example, are limited editions. Limited editions? Like art? And they really describe the lipsticks. I mean really. For example: “Eau de Rose has a sheer, pink-tinged base with cool-toned, icy, iridescent pink shimmer.” Sheer. Cool-toned. Icy. And so you are described. You and your lipstick.

I am heading to the store today to find my new self. My lipstick for the decade. I vow to spend at least one hour there determining what my new signature self will be. The next time you see me and you ask how I am, I may reply, “I’m sheer and icy wearing my Eau de Rose. Thanks for asking.”

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My New Prius

Those of you who read me regularly know I have had some serious car issues. There was my poor Audi, which was hit in Utah by Buck, the twelve-point male deer around Thanksgiving a few years ago. Then there were the minor accidents I kept having in LA, where parking is complicated by hidden nightmares like cement poles that are supposed to mark the spots, but only serve to dent my fenders. Then there was the rental car that was towed. I had no idea what kind of car it was, which made it difficult to pick it up at a lot where it was hidden among hundreds of other cars that were recognizable to their drivers. Never did find that car.

But I have recently added a new car to my fleet. My name is Christine, and I bought a Prius. I wish to be a stronger member of the “I want to leave a smaller carbon footprint on the world” club, and since ice cream and my advancing years are making my physical person larger, I’m working on making my footprint smaller. Membership in this club calls for thoughtful spending and usage of resources, so I followed my little sister’s lead and bought a Prius.

When I was test driving it, the very nice and patient sales person, a friend of my cousin Cliff’s, explained that the correct way to drive a Prius is to hit the gas pedal gently, which allows for slower acceleration and less gas consumption. They even put this gauge on the dashboard that shows you how many miles per gallon you are getting, so you can actually see that the slower you accelerate, the less gas you use. At its best, a Prius can get 100 miles per gallon. This is a good thing… or so you would think. But truthfully, it’s beginning to get on my nerves, to say nothing of the other drivers behind me. I now glance from the road to the gauge over and over again throughout any driving expedition, trying to keep that line over 50 miles to the gallon. This was fun for a day or two, but not so much now. And while I grant you my Mario Andretti ways were probably not in the best interest of the environment, my ridiculous granny-driving is greatly reducing my billable hours per week.

Then there is the problem with the sound of the engine. The engine makes no sound, and there is no key in the ignition, which is another thing that seemed like a great idea when I bought the car, but is now a nightmare. I keep leaving the car running overnight. When you stop and put the car in park, there is no sound, which makes it easy to forget to press the “power off” button if you are on the phone (hands-free of course), or just thinking about important things like whether you remembered to TIVO Oprah’s latest Master Class. How many times have I left it on, you ask? I’m almost sixty and my memory—especially short-term—doesn’t serve me well, but I can safely say it’s more than five, and I have had the car for three months. Okay, that’s a lie, I have had the car two months.

But the biggest problem centers around interaction with people. I am not a friendly person by nature. I realize that sounds bad, and I don’t mean it to be, but I am busy trying to be a strong, thoughtful friend and family member, and time is a precious commodity. That means I don’t have a lot of time to make new friends in parking lots, which they never mentioned when I bought the car is a “benefit” of belonging to the “I Own A Prius” club. Membership automatically comes with purchase; it’s not opt-in, and unless you want to feel really bad about yourself as a part of the human race, there is no easy way to resign.

“Oh, I see you have a Prius. I’m thinking of getting one. Do you like it?”

“Oh, I have a Prius too! Don’t you love yours? Can you believe the gas mileage?”

“Oh, would you mind if I got inside? I just want to see if it feels as small as it looks from the outside!”

This last one is especially upsetting, because you are not supposed to let strangers in your car, so I always get out of the car and say, “Try the driver’s side.” This is problematic because I always forget to turn the car off, especially when I’m distracted by someone at my side window, and they could easily drive away and leave me standing on the corner dialing 911—assuming I remembered to remove my cell phone, which hooks into the car’s telephone system.

This last thing I am about to tell you is a secret because it’s really bad and I hate to share it with the world, but here it is. I was really feeling low a few weeks ago, sitting in my car listening to Adele, and sure enough, when I parked, there was someone waiting to ask me about the car. I pretended to be deaf. Yes, deaf. I know, I know. But that is what I did, and it wasn’t until later that I realized that since I was listening to Adele at a zillion decibels, they likely figured out that I was lying. To say nothing of the fact that I no longer live in LA, where the likelihood of twice running into someone you met in a parking lot is a lot lower than it is here in Cape Cod, where only I and a few others choose to live in the dead of winter. I’m sorry, and I will never do it again.

But I do feel good when I get into my Prius. I do. I feel proud of myself. I am happy that I am saving about as much as I am paying for the car in less gas used—or at least my feeble financial mind thinks so. All in all, it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made, and I am happy to be a part of the club. I just wish I could be a silent member.

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Cheerios, Who Knew?

We need to talk about Cheerios. I recently received an email explaining that the new cool thing is to make a Cheerios necklace for your friends (I think they thought I was still in high school, bless them). The Cheerios necklace recipient eats a Cheerio off the necklace every time she sees the guy she likes at school and voila, he will like her after she finishes the necklace and all the Cheerios have been ingested. Now, that’s marketable. I mean remarkable. A cereal that can guarantee a boy? Works for me.

But Cheerios don’t stop there. They cure your heart disease. And, if you don’t have heart disease but you do have high cholesterol, they cure that. And, if you don’t have either of those maladies, no worries, Cheerios will start your day with oats, the cornerstone of our health pyramid. Let’s see, boys and two out of the top ten dangerous things to one’s health. Cheerios could be the best food ever.

But, we are not finished. I also received an email that had fun projects for the winter and one of them was to make a Cheerios bird feeder. Not only will Cheerios cure us, but birds need Cheerios too. This is all a lot of responsibility for one cereal.

So, of course, you know me, I had to go to the history of Cheerios. Cheerios was first produced on June 19, 1941 and is marketed by the General Mills cereal company of Golden Valley, Minnesota as the first oat-based, ready-to-eat cold cereal. It was called Cheeri Oats at first, later changed to Cheerios because of a trade name dispute with Quaker Oats. The name fit the “O” shape of the cereal pieces. In other words, Cheerios was the first fast food, possibly the beginning of the American health crisis. Hmmm. We are celebrating Cheerios today and not going to the dark side of things this early in the new year, so we won’t go down this road at this time.

I was with friends for New Years and had Cheerios for breakfast at their house. When I poured it out of the box, I got the prize inside. I was so excited. It was the cutest plastic hippo you ever saw with a little wheel on the bottom for easy rolling on the breakfast table. I used to love to be the first to open a box of cereal and get the prize inside. In our house, you were not supposed to search through the box for the prize, you were supposed to wait and see who got it naturally through just pouring out your portion. I’m sure this was the first setup by my parents for cheating between my siblings and me. This type of rule does not build joint cooperation.

There is actually a book out about the prizes in cereal boxes. It’s called Cereal Boxes and Prizes: 1960s – A Tribute and Price Guide. This just goes to show you that you can write a book about anything and someone might publish it. Apparently the coolest ever cereal box prize was the Captain Midnight secret decoder rings that must have been before my time, because I don’t remember them.

Anyway, back to Cheerios. I want to thank Cheerios for being so many things to so many people. For those of you who wish to become Cheerios aficionados, Cheerios is on Facebook and you can become a Cheerios Fan, not to be confused with a friend, who we all know might not work as it could be unfriended when you are sick of them and move back to Frosted Flakes. I’m glad we had this little Cheerios chat.

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Jennifer Aniston’s New Water Ad

I was driving from the Hamptons to New York City yesterday via the Mid Town Tunnel. I love going through the Mid Town Tunnel because the billboards there are the best of the best in advertising. Whether it’s Apple, or Calvin, or some new brand, they do their best work on those billboards. As a marketing person, I like to look at them and see what’s what.

Apple has a new fabulous ad. Be sure and check it out if you are heading through the tunnel. And, then I see it. There is Jennifer Aniston staring at me, naked from above the chest area, saddled up with a bottle of Smart Water. She says something about being healthy with Smart Water. I look at her as I am sitting in traffic and decide I just don’t get it. I’m uncomfortable, and I realize I have never seen Jennifer in an ad before. jennifer-aniston-smartwater-hush

First, why is she always bare shouldered in every picture she does? Put a shirt on Jennifer. You look stupid, which I’ve heard might be the case. Second, you chain smoke. Drinking Smart Water is not going to help you when your lungs turn black, and if it’s making you smarter, then why are you still smoking? You drink a lot. I don’t recall any pictures of you with bottles of water in the media.

Most importantly, why would I listen to Jennifer Aniston about what to drink to make me healthy? While she is a successful actor (I use the term successful generously. She is financially successful and certainly well known, but I have never seen her act at the level of Glenn Close, or Meryl Streep, or frankly, even Lindsay Lohan.). I do not understand why Aniston is someone whose opinion would sway anyone when it comes to buying something healthy. Maybe something that makes you thin and toned, but healthy? I don’t get it.

I got home last night, and because I’m a sicko who just can’t leave anything alone, I did some investigative work. Guess what? She owns a part of the company. This is the first endorsement she has done in America, and Smart Water said, “Jennifer believes in Smart Water so much, she invested in the company.” Let’s define investment. She gave them hard cash and is doing the ads for free? Not so much. They paid her and gave her shares for her endorsement would be my guess.

So, I’m sitting there thinking not only are they using someone who has nothing to do with health to sell the product, but in addition, there is no caveat at the bottom of the ad that says she has a conflict of interest as she is a shareholder. Isn’t that against the law? And if it’s not, shouldn’t it be? Jeeze, we are passing laws a mile a minute now in Washington, can’t they squeeze that one in and do us all a favor?

I never bought Smart Water. I don’t like marketing oxymorons. Water is not smart. And, the electrolytes they put in it are not smart either. I know when I buy water that I’m a jerk. Water is free and how stupid is it to spend a few dollars buying something free in a bottle that makes it not even healthy anymore? The jury is no longer out as to what happens when you put liquids in plastic. They become not so healthy. While they say you are fine if you store them in a cool place, I’m sure the trucks they travel in to get to the stores are anything but cool inside, so you are only fooling yourself. I know all this and still choose to buy water in plastic bottles. To say nothing of the number of plastic bottles floating around the environment. But I don’t pretend to be anything other than stupid, environmentally irresponsible, and non-healthy in my approach to what I put in my mouth.

I understand celebrity endorsements. Tiger Woods endorsing golf items? Makes sense. When he endorsed Buick, I was thinking, “Hey Tiger, I really don’t believe that you like Buick.” And frankly, it clearly didn’t do much good. In the end, Tiger’s manager put out a statement that Tiger would no longer endorse cars. Guess he got tired of driving a pile of junk, no matter how much they paid him.

Ok, after they make the law that says you have to disclose your investment in any company you endorse, they could add to the law by saying you can only endorse products you really use. Jennifer could endorse Range Rover, cigarettes and Starbucks. Works for me. More importantly, isn’t it time for us to take a look at how we are manipulated in advertising? Individually? For our own good? The next time you are in the store, ask yourself why you chose that particular brand, and if it’s because Jennifer Aniston was naked with a crazy look in her eye holding up the bottle, put it back on the shelf and head for a water fountain.