I was sitting on a stool at the Benefit Bar at Ulta waiting to get my eyebrows waxed, when I observed an elderly woman asking about a particular moisturizer. When I say elderly, I mean late 70’s or maybe early 80’s. She seemed to be on a mission. She knew exactly what she was looking for. It seemed she was hoping it was some sort of miracle cure or maybe a fountain of youth.
My own mother is 72. In the last year, I have taken over paying her bills. Sometimes she would overlook a bill and some bills she accidentally paid twice. So with the ability to pay most things over the internet, it’s simple for me to just pick up her bills and take care of them for her. I was surprised when I looked at her account online one day and saw a debit for $98.46 for a “beauty” company. I asked her what it was for. Moisturizer she said. It was a 30-day supply and it was “really good.”
I have been on an endless search for an eye cream and some thing to reduce my pores. I think these dark circles are here to stay. At least until I am at a point where I can get at least 9 or 10 hours of sleep on a regular basis. I guess what I am trying to say is, that as women we are always looking for ways to stop the process of time.
My indoctrination began at an early age. I remember riding the bus downtown to Monning’s Department Store. There my mother would purchase her pretty little jars of creams and pots of colors. Years later I would stand next to her at Sanger Harris, Foley’s, Macy’s or Neiman’s. So I blame her for my obsession.
But where did her obsession come from? She was the fourth of thirteen children. Her own mother certainly never rode the bus to purchase pretty little pots of creams. Well, while having lunch with her one day I think I discovered the root of her obsession.
She mentioned to me that she wished we had videoed my Dad telling stories about his childhood, his stint in Berlin, and those types of things. I told her, “So do I.” But she has stories to tell too. I reminded her of a story she told me about her Grandpa Nelson. At the time she told me it was her earliest memory. She was about four years old when he passed away. She remembers her mother holding her hand and they were running down the road to her grandparents.
When I reminded her of this story, she told me another story. She had three older brothers and she was the first granddaughter. She said her grandmother and her aunts did not like her mother. That they seemed to delight in making her mother feel inferior. Her grandfather however, made her feel special. He gave her a little tin container with a lid. He would wait until his wife was out of the house and he would take my mother into the bedroom and fill her little container with face powder. It was a secret just between the two of them.
AHA!!!! Immediately I realized that this was the answer to a question that has been in the back of my mind forever. Now I know that my own great-grandfather is responsible for my mother’s fascination with “beauty” products and therefore my own obsession with cosmetics.