Cycling and Calvin Klein collide at the beauty counter

Face, meet the world of the food and beverage hostess

I'd rather be Audrey than tawdry

I'd rather be Audrey than tawdry

“What you need,” Christopher murmured, peering into my face, “is a silicone primer.”

Oddly, he wasn’t talking about bike frames. I had run into a department store to escape the rain and a handout In the ladies’ room had caught my attention. “Come by the Calvin Klein counter,” it suggested, “Receive a FREE Foundation Consultation and Sample!”

I wandered the maze of make-up boutiques until a red-haired woman at the Clinique counter with eerily perfect skin asked if she could help me.

I motioned at my handout. “I’m actually looking for the Calvin Klein counter but…” I offered, “you could show me what you’ve got since I’m here.”

“Well sure,” she said as she opened a tube of foundation, “We can dab a little on your hand if you like.” I looked down as she spread the flesh-toned liquid on the meat of my thumb. It blended in fine, but bits of lotion stuck in the lines of my skin. It reminded me of women I’d seen (usually in the late-night food and beverage industry) who walked around with tiny, tawdry channels of makeup dried into their eyelids.

I showed her the bits and told her that’s why I’d been avoiding foundation up til now. “Well,” she said sweetly, “That’s why you need to exfoliate.” I thanked her and headed for the Calvin Klein counter.

Christopher was a big, hulking goth fellow in black slacks, a black shirt and a black leather makeup brush holster. I showed him the handout and he brightened and guided me to a stool. “This is great,” he grinned as he shook a bottle of beige lotion, “It was getting a little quiet around here.”

I picked up a hand mirror and he tsk-tsked and took it away. “I’m going to apply some foundation to one side of your face,” he said, “and I want you to be surprised.” I felt the wet brush move in short strokes over the right side of my forehead, cheek, nose and mouth while Christopher chatted about freelancing for weddings.

“I’d love to do more East Indian weddings,” he raved, “Those women are not afraid to use the really strong colours like red, gold, blue, and especially purple. There!” he remarked as he handed me the mirror. “What do you think?”

I looked, and indeed one side of my face was ~ lighter. I’m half Indian myself, and ~ as my friend Dave might joke ~ I’d just increased in value. “Could you do the other side?” I asked hastily. Taking that to mean that I liked it, Christopher set to work.

“Er, how water resistant is this foundation?” I asked. I explained that I rode my bike every day, even in the rain. “Well,” Christopher pondered, “You will have to touch it up when you arrive and after you’ve broken into a sweat.” I imagined arriving at work with failed foundation dripping southwards, some perhaps settling and drying at the corners of my mouth.

That’s when he brought up the silicone primer. “Oh, it’s easy and super-light,” he remarked. “You apply a thin layer over your entire face, let it dry, and then apply the foundation.” He leaned in conspiratorially, “The silicone fills in all the little lines, you see. It stays on all day.”

I’m guessing the reason the silicone stays on your face all day is because it’s a polymer/oxygen found in adhesives, insulators, and male contraception. Do you need special chemicals to remove the silicone layer-cake at the end of the day, I asked myself, or if you just peel it off like a masque?

By this time Christopher had added three shades of powder to my eyes, two shades of blush to my cheeks, and a thick, shiny gloss to my lips. The other staff gathered to watch and even the red-haired clerk from the Clinique counter came by for a visit. They nodded approvingly and I picked up the hand mirror.

“You should hold it at arm’s length,” Christopher said. At that distance I looked lighter, fresher, and younger. However, as I brought the mirror closer, I transformed into a food and beverage hostess. I thanked him for his time, took his card, and pulled on my coat. “Am I going to be able to drink coffee with these lips?” I joked.

“Oh sure, but always touch ‘em up when you’re done,” he waved, “Enjoy! You look great!”

I stepped outside and quickly opened my umbrella so my face wouldn’t get wet. I touched my cheek with a finger. My skin felt like a condom, but apparently I looked great.

Published in the Sept/Oct 2008 Style issue of Momentum Magazine.

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