Lipstick and Lies

Every so often I get the urge to buy myself a beautiful new lipstick, and after cleaning out my make-up drawer, I realized that my small collection had most likely passed its unwritten expiration dates by at least 3 years.  Just thinking about the potential for cooties made me weak in the knees, so off to MACY’s I went..

The woman who works at the counter I visited was a friendly Italian; probably my age, with skin was as smooth as a silk napkin.  I told her I wanted to step out of my lipstick “box” and get something exciting and new. So the lady, let’s call her Sophia Loren, started to show me her wares. Everything (except red) was open to consideration. One by one, she’d pick out different shades, carefully disinfect them with her tissue soaked in alcohol, and apply the color to my lips…and each time, I’d look in the mirror and recoil at my reflection. Finally, after about 15 long, frustrating minutes, she pulled out an orangy-peachy hue that actually seemed to “fit.” “I can do this color!” I yelped as if I’d just won the lottery.  Down to the cash register I slid, retrieving my credit card to pay for this overpriced indulgence. Sophia had her back to me busily rummaging through one drawer…and then another…and then another, until she finally popped up, turned around, and flatly announced that the color I had chosen was discontinued.

Discontinued!? We stared at each other as if we had no idea what to do next. I sure as heck didn’t feel like starting all over looking for a different shade, and she sure as heck didn’t offer. “I guess I wasn’t meant to have a new lipstick today” I finally blurted out, to which Sophia matter-of-factly replied “I guess not!”  As I shoved my wallet back into my purse I looked up and offered some unsolicited, but obvious, advice. “Maybe you shouldn’t have samples on display if they are not available to purchase…” to which Ms. Loren responded, “oh, we have to keep them out there, if we didn’t, our displays would look bad.”

There’s not enough foundation in the world to cover the disbelief I’m sure flashed across my face. As I huffed out to my car it struck me that this had happened to me at other counters,  and not just at this store! I guess they all keep their displays padded with product they no longer carry just to maintain that well-balanced, perfect appearance.

As I drove away I thought of how we are sometimes just as guilty of padding our lives to make it seem as if all of our “lipsticks are in a row.” Whether it’s gushing on Facebook or preening in person, we can get caught up in creating appearances that bear little resemblance to what’s really going on ‘behind the counter.’  The end result can be a fragile facade built on little white lies and a distressingly large collection of superficial relationships. More importantly, this pretending precludes us from sharing our burdens with others who could offer genuine friendship and support.

Now I’m not advocating spilling all our personal woes to anyone with an ear to hear or a mouse to click…but while Sophia is required to maintain a showcase that clearly doesn’t represent what’s behind her closed drawers….we don’t have to.





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