Women of the South fascinate me. Always have. Their “je ne sais quoi” (pronounced with a southern drawl), their grace and their demeanour are all a part of some feminine mystique that I can’t be a part of, by virtue of geography, of course. But they fascinates me none the less.
Dolly Parton was on Ellen the other day when I was home from work, positioned on the couch in such a way that slightly relieved the pinched nerve in my pelvis but that also allowed for my chest to be unobstructed and able to fully inhale (this baby is sure maximizing her real estate). Dolly was telling Ellen how she never took off her makeup, but rather went to bed “with her face on”, hung her hair on a lamp post by her bed, and simply scrubbed her face in the morning before re-applying her visage. This was because, she explained, if she was hauled out of bed in the middle of the night for some emergency, like a fire, she didn’t want to be out in the streets without her makeup on. Oh, southern women.
I have always been lackadaisical about makeup, not paying much attention to it other than to apply the basics in the morning before work or school. In the summer, I rarely wear any because, being a bad skin care girl, I let my suntan be my makeup, colouring the apples of my cheeks and the skin beside my hairline just the way I like it: golden brown. A few years ago, I helped research a book for a NYC beauty expert and started paying a bit more attention to how makeup can be maximized without having to shovel it on like Mimi on Drew Carey. I know this concept is elementary but, like I said, I hadn’t paid makeup much attention.
I learned to pick out quality eyeshadows over nearly transparent drug store ones, which tools cut it and which were fillers, and the Bobbi Brown secret: that if you start off with a great foundation, the rest will take care of itself. When Sephora (god bless franchising) finally expanded into the Rideau Centre in Ottawa, I gleefully stocked up on the products I had only dreamed about, put it on credit so the husband would not know I’d spent hundreds of dollars on makeup, and got butterflies.
Bare Escentuals mineral foundation, Nars blush in Orgasm, the Kabuki brush, the Shu Uemura eyelash curler, they all were invited into my arsenal. A couple of Urban Decay eyeshadows and some Estee lauder ones too and I was set. Set for Ross River, anyway, where I now sport what I jokingly call my $70 face to the school every day to hang out with kids that wouldn’t care or notice whether I came to work made up or with lesions on my face. But that’s beside the point.
As I prepare to enter mommyhood, I am gearing up to not be the frumpy ladies on daytime TV talk shows who beg for makeovers after having lost themselves to sweatpants, ponytails and sneakers. I am a woman, maybe not one of the South (but in my dreams…) and I still believe in the importance of putting myself together every morning, playing up what a lovely face God gave me. If not for the aesthetics then for the psychological benefit of taking time for myself now and as I get set to be a mama (as the Southern girls would say).
One year later
Ideally, we would have spent our first wedding anniversary by fluttering off to The Keg for some massive steaks, asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes and some dessert at Memories Café. But we are not in Ottawa or any metropolis, and so we were required to settle for what options are available: Option 1- I make dinner for us at home. This happens every night and is not a treat for me.
Option #2- Go to the TND Motor Inn Lounge, aka the town’s restaurant. Off we were in the cold dark night (-25!) to eat greasy food and celebrate a year of marriage and all that’s come with it.
(Option #3- The husband makes dinner at home. This is hardly an option as his culinary skills extend to about toast and peanut butter, cereal and oatmeal.)
We arrived in the restaurant, and were pleased to see it wasn’t too busy, as this decreased the likelihood of us receiving some other tables’ meals.
We waited at our wooden, flip-out-legs style table for about 20 minutes while three high school aged-girls and some elementary students lingered at the cash register calling their friends on the phone and talking about us (subtlety isn’t their forte).
The girl that evidently drew the short straw and had to come serve the white cop and his wife sauntered over and mumbled something that indicated it was time to tell her what we wanted to drink.
“What kinds of milkshakes do you serve?” I asked.
Silence. Rolled eyes.
No strawberry? Chocolate? Vanilla?
“I’ll have water please.”
Eventually, the waters made their way back to our table, a safe bet as they came in bottles with sealed lids.
We each gave her our orders, me a personal size Hawaiian pizza with a side of poutine (high living in Ross River, bon appetite!) and for him a BLT sandwich. The girl, who suffers from severe Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, struggled to remember our order then walked over to the group of girl and audibly messed up our order to the greasy line cook. Husband is struggling not to get up and correct it, but I didn’t want to soil our evening with spit in our food, or worse.
The girl eventually got it right and while we waited, husband filled me in about how this 15-year-old girl had just had a baby boy and continued to drink heavily all day and night long, having dropped out from school. He had arrested her a number of times for being drunk. Standing out for being drunk in this town is quite a feat, let me tell you!
We ate our greasy meals that came with surprising accuracy, albeit after 45 minutes of waiting and a tad cold. We have learned to get what we are given!
Then we returned home and I was asked to wait in the bedroom while the husband created some surprise for dessert. After a few minutes, he led me out by the hand to show me the kitchen table. It had our wedding album, some tea light candles and 2 plates with toaster strudels, each decorated with hearts icing. It was so sweet and a perfectly Ross River anniversary!