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     I am obsessed with Jeanne Bice, a purveyor of sparkly clothing on the shopping channel, QVC.  Jeanne is a combination salesperson and motivational speaker.  She says that my days will be brighter, and I will form new friendships when I don her wares.  I embrace her philosophy, and I have a closetful of gingerbread man sweaters and rhinestone embellished hydrangea shirts as evidence.

     My 17-year-old daughter, Meghan, is less than thrilled with my choice of wardrobe and often insults the beaded sailboats plastered across my chest.

     “But, Meg,” I protest, “people really do come up to me and comment on my outfits.”

     This leads her to educate me on the finer points of sarcasm.  “Mom, when someone says, ’nice shirt,’ in a particular tone of voice, she really means.’ I hope the aliens who abandoned you and your hideous celestial scene garment plan to retrieve you promptly.’”

     For years, Meghan has been hinting that my narrow legged pants accentuate my protruding abdomen. I would walk into the room with my leggings, and she would shield her eyes. “Please, I beg of you, buy some boot-leg jeans,” she’d say.

    I followed her advice and bought some slacks with spider webs and tarantulas adorning them. The jean bottoms were flared. She looked me up and down and said, “Nice pants.”

     However, Meg’s beauty advice is not limited to my clothing choices.  Recently, she and her friends roped me into a make-up overhaul. I stood before the bathroom mirror, surrounded by teens, and took stock of my better features. I have a lovely high forehead, I thought.    

     Meg pointed to my forehead and announced, “My mother has plucked her eyebrows so clean that she now has enough space between her eyes and hairline to park a Winnebago.”

     The girls artfully reconstructed my missing eyebrows.

     My favorite color of lipstick is fuchsia fusion.  I take it Meg is not fond of this shade.  One evening, she called from her darkened closet, “Mom, bring your lips over here and help me find my shoes.”

    The girls chose a more earthly tone of make-up for my mouth. They called it a neutral.

     That night, my newly drawn brows and naked lips sat across the dinner table from my husband. I noted that he avoided making eye contact with me throughout the meal. Finally, he glanced at me and suppressed a grin. “I’m sorry,” he told me, “but it looks as though two wooly caterpillars have crawled above your eyes and expired.”

     The other day, Meghan caught me wearing my new sweatshirt, complete with screaming sequined ghost. I raced up to her and shook my chest. “Boo,” I said. She rolled her eyes and left the room.

      I laughed giddily. I felt a sense of pride at having survived the buffeting of teenage critique and at having held steadfastly to my individual taste.

     I turned to my four-year-old daughter, who was studying me. “I see that you’re growing a moustache,” she said.

     I can only hope that it’s a nose shadow cast in the glow of my lipstick.

Copyright © 2009 Marie-Therese Miller

 
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