In the summer of ninety four, I had a brilliant idea. In preparation for my high school reunion, I would dye my lashes. That way, I could cry freely without worrying about make-up. Unknown to me, thick black eyeliner was also applied. “People love this,” the beautician assured me as I walked out the door, stunned and blinking into the light. “Oh my God,” my husband said when I got home. “You look like Nana Mouskouri.” The ensuing tears did not damage the dye. I finally took a toothbrush to my eyelashes and removed it all.
My next brilliant idea came about ten years later. I wandered into a Winnipeg store that offered an instant all over tan. The small cubicle resembled a phone booth. I felt like Clark Kent, about to transform into the real me. Spray shot from the walls, coating my entire body. Wow, I thought. This is amazing. There was no mirror. Next, the clerks offered to tattoo make-up onto my lips and eyes, their faces the examples of their success. But their permanent lip and eye liner was so outside the lines, a three year old could have done better. “No thanks,” I said uneasily, starting to wonder about my fake tan. When I got back to my sister’s house, my mother met me at the door.
“You look like you’ve been living at the dump,” she said. I walked over to a mirror. My eyebrows were twice their usual size, and extremely dark. There were streaks around my hairline and brown smudges on my forehead and chin. I looked like a person who had not bathed in a very long time. This time, I used a much bigger brush for the cleanup. The kind you keep under the kitchen sink for dirty pots.
I have a fondness for self improvement. A desire to tweak the Judy design by giving myself some kind of upgrade. When I was very little, I liked to cut my own hair. And Susan’s. But never mind about that. I enjoy self improvement books. I like to meditate with Oprah and Chopra. I probably need a new wardrobe. And really, I should try yoga again. But I hate to shop, and I’m not very flexible.
We all yearn for what we don’t have, even when we like who we are. It’s part of the human condition for everyone except Jesus and the Dalai Lama. And there’s nothing wrong with a make over, if that’s what you really want. But I’ve found that, lately, if the mood for change comes over me, its better if I just clean the kitchen sink or wash the car. I still have to use a brush, but at least it doesn’t hurt. And with that chore accomplished, I feel really good. Which is the whole point.