*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
My mother and I have always been best friends, and we have always spent much of our time together. When I was a newly minted teenager, I asked my mother if I could practice my makeup skills on her, and she agreed.
I was thrilled. YouTube makeup tutorials hadn't been invented yet, and I needed the practice. I went into the bathroom and grabbed my mother's makeup kit, everything I could find.
"This will be so much fun," I announced.
My mother sat on the sofa, and I crouched beside her, layering a thick brown foundation onto her fair skin like I was applying it with a trowel. I did not know why my mother owned a foundation that was so poorly matched to her skin tone, but it was all I had to work with. So I made it work.
Next, I lined her eyes with black eyeliner until she closely resembled an overtired raccoon. I added plenty of bright blue eyeshadow leftover from a decade earlier. Things were coming along quite nicely, I thought.
When I got to the rouge, it stumped me. There were several pots of dark brown and crimson red pigments, neither of which would look good on anyone.
"You're supposed to mix them together with the tiny spatula until you get the right shade," my mother explained.
I was game. So I mixed the two heavy creams together on the minuscule mixing board with the teeny spatula until there were no more lumps and everything was the same shade of maroon and applied it liberally to her cheeks.
"Why are you laughing?" she asked.
"No reason," I replied.
I had just finished applying a deep purple lipstick to her upper lip when the doorbell rang.
"Don't pay attention to the doorbell," my mother said. "Let's just pretend we're not home."
But the person at the door was relentless. The doorbell kept ringing. Soon, a flurry of loud knocking joined the ringing bell.
My mother stood up.
"Don't answer the door," I beseeched her. "At least wash your face first."
She didn't heed my warning. My mother answered the door to find my adult cousin standing there. He asked if my father was home, and my mother told him he wasn't.
They chatted for a few minutes before my mother realized there was an unfamiliar expression on the man's face. "By the way," he said, "does my uncle know how much makeup you wear when he's not home?"
My mother just stared at him in horror.
"Does your husband know you wear that much makeup?" he asked again. Then he turned on his heel and walked away without receiving an answer.
I wish I had taken a Polaroid picture of my mother before she washed her face. She scrubbed her skin for ten minutes and still had visible residue from my first makeup job until the following day. And she never let me apply her makeup again.
We still laugh about it to this day.