2010.07.21 Failure at laundry, nose-blowing and make-up

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

Nothing says “Failure at Life” more than washing tissues in a load of laundry.

I can’t think of a worse thing than opening the lid to the washing machine, extracting that first article of clothing and discovering little bits of tissue clinging tightly to it.

I border on obsessive-compulsive behavior when it comes to checking pockets as I sort the laundry—I make every effort to avoid the aftermath of washing tissues.

Checking pockets is also how I make money, since I usually find coins and even dollar bills tucked inside—my pockets anyway. In David’s—on the rare occasions I do his laundry—I find things like crinoid fossils and extremely short Observer pencils.

OK, there are worse things than tissue-covered wet clothes and my nose is one of them. It is like a faucet lately....which is why all my pockets are laden with tissues. David suggests I don’t even know I’m constantly blowing my nose—it drives him crazy—as if I have a nervous tic or something.

But I’m fully aware that my nose has turned into a mucus factory this summer. I’m not trying to annoy him, I just don’t think I’ll ever master—heck, I don’t think I’ll ever desire to master—his suggested technique of holding one nostril and blowing out the other...into the wind? I mean, where is it going to go? He of little mucus has never properly demonstrated the technique.

There’s another thing that says Failure at Life—Failure at Womanly Life, to be more precise—and that’s ignorance in the make-up department.

I was rummaging through a bathroom drawer for a pair of nail clippers late Saturday night when I happened upon a tube of Burt’s Bees lip balm. Easily distracted as I am, I opened the tube, took a sniff and, detecting no rancid smell (commonly found in dated natural lip balms), applied it to my lips.

I looked up at the mirror and laughed out loud. Not the usual lip balm. No, this substance was a tube of “Lip Shimmer” or as Burt’s Bees label says, “The World’s Best Lip Balm with a hint of Luminescent Color.”

“Hint” is putting it lightly. This stuff is loaded with color—“Papaya,” to be exact,—and it was now all over my lips and in the general vicinity of my lips. As soon as I glanced up at the mirror and saw what I had done, I was taken back to several Christmases ago when I had put the tubes in everyone’s Christmas stockings.

As the kids were gathered on our bed and everyone examined their stockings’ contents, I slathered my lips with lip balm, only to discover how heavily laden it was with color—my husband and kids acted as my mirror and laughed at the sight of thickly applied colorful lip balm all over my face.

It was winter, my lips were dry and I had enthusiastically applied what I had thought was ordinary lip balm. Who knew papaya was so intensely colorful?

I didn’t do as bad a job Saturday night as I had that Christmas morning, but I did have to grab a tissue and dab the excess away from my lips, above and below. A lot still remained, so I did like I’d always seen my mother do: pressed a tissue between my lips, leaving a print of my lips on it. I used to love watching my mother get dolled up for a night on the town with my father...the lipstick on tissue trick was my favorite part of her getting-ready routine.

When Rosie got married two years ago, she and Maddie accompanied me to Sephora for an overhaul. I came home with more make-up than I’d seen in my lifetime. My daughters tell me I have to use the stuff or it will go bad...I think this is why they keep helping themselves to it when they are home.

But once you use it, you have to take it off. It’s bad enough spending precious morning minutes putting the stuff on, but then you have to spend even more time removing it before bed. And that takes a heck of a lot of tissues—which I’d just as soon use on my leaky nose.

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