Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Little Pick-Me-Up

Today I was reminded of something a dear older lady once said to me. Allow me to set the scene:

I was working as a waitress in a nice restaurant that was owned by a good friend of mine. Her mother was a frequent patron and you could just tell she had been the quintessential "50's lady" back in the day. I think she came from money, but that wasn't what made her classy... she just was. Anyway, at this particular time I was dealing with a bout of depression (as I have from time to time over the course of my life) and apparently it SHOWED. After we had closed for the day, Ms. Betty approached me to see why I wasn't my usual self and though I can't remember our conversation verbatim, I think she got the gist of what what going on. I will never forget what she said next though: "Well dear, why don't you just go and put you a little lipstick on?!" Seriously, Ms. Betty? LIPSTICK?!!

Sure, because God knows a little Maybelline is just what the doctor ordered. Go ahead and give Ms. Betty a Nobel Prize, y'all.... she's just discovered a cure for depression! I wasn't sure there was enough lipstick in the world to make me feel better. Hmphh. LIPSTICK. Don't get me wrong, I was kind and respectful. She had no idea how absurd I thought her comment was. I've thought about that conversation many times over the years and I almost always laugh out loud when I do.

Years later, I started selling Mary Kay and one of the things I learned was that even in a terrible economy... even during the Depression... women will (and DID) spend money on cosmetics. Lipsticks and the like are a small investment that yield a tremendous result: looking better on some level makes us feel better. Perhaps Ms. Betty knew this all along.

I'm not trivializing depression. Depression is a disease that my family and I are all to familiar with and I know without a shadow of doubt that make-up cures NOTHING, except for maybe ugliness, but you know what I mean. Last night, however, I was reminded of Ms. Betty and her little antidote when Jamie Ruth wanted me to paint her fingernails. I usually don't keep my fingernails painted because I'm too hard on my hands: cleaning without gloves, crafting something, painting, etc. I admire other people who keep their nails well manicured, but it never seems practical enough for me to do it. But last night JR just insisted that we paint our nails the same color and have a "gowns only, red fingernails" club (seriously... I couldn't make this stuff up). So I relented thinking first thing this morning I would get the fingernail polish remover out and get back to my bare nails ASAP. Only I haven't....

It sounds crazy, but every time I look down and my flaming red nails, it makes me smile a little. I like the way they look even though I know they probably won't last through the day without getting a chip or a ding. But who cares, right? I feel a little fancy having my nails painted, and though it may seem impractical for my lifestyle, so what?! Nothing last forever, not even the impromptu manicure with your six year old. What's the worst that could happen? Having to repaint them at the second meeting of the "gowns only, red fingernails" club?

I like my nails so much that I'm thinking about getting my toes done. And after that, who knows? I might just take a cue from Ms. Betty and get the lipstick out. I'm not insinuating these little steps to better personal grooming are going to cure all that ails us emotionally, but if you're like me, it just might perk you up and bring a little smile to your day. And who could argue with that?

Anyhoo, I feel I must apologize to Ms. Betty. I know in her own way, she was trying to be helpful and if I hadn't been so obstinate, I might have seen that. I might have also realized earlier that sometimes little things can make a big difference in how we feel about ourselves. She's in heaven now. But I'm sure she's looking down on me and smiling... and you can bet she's wearing her lipstick.

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