Love is like a magic penny, the old song says – if you give it away then you end up having more. In this case, love should be subsituted for ‘pink lipstick’. I had a pink lipstick that haunted me. Earlier in the year, I became somewhat obsessed with the need to buy a pink lipstick. I was convinced it was the ‘must have’ to hold my entire sense of style & well-being together. In a hurried & harried moment in a well-known high street chemist, I chose one. Before I left the store, I knew I had made a poor choice – too shiny, too pearlescent, just all wrong. The unused tube sat in a drawer, mocking me with a sense of waste every time I looked at it – waste & that sense that sense of annoyance at myself for putting so much faith & hope into a lipstick. One tube of coloured fat was never going to give me what I was hoping for from it. So to car boot it went! I decided the only way to exorcise the ill-fated purchase was to sell it. Yesterday was its day of judgement, where it sat along with several other lipsticks & glosses waiting to be picked by the public (the others were all free gifts so none had the same turbulent history; theirs was a happy departure from the make-up drawer).
Other lipsticks & glosses were picked up & taken away by happy new owners. The evil pink one stayed put, as if mocking me: ‘Ha ha you’ll have to take me home, haunted forever by the failed hopes & dreams I represent’. Then a young girl came along. She fingered the tube. She twisted it up & down. She looked at the two others left alongside it. This was my chance to be rid of it! ’20p each’, I said, hoping that the low price would convince her to take them. Damn, I thought as she ran off. I should have just given them to her. Then I noticed she had stopped by her mum at the next stall. Ooo, she’s turning round! She came running back, clutching a little coin purse. Her eyes lit up: they hadn’t sold in the intervening 20 seconds! Excitedly she began rummaging in the purse, like a contestant on the Crystal Maze with only 5 seconds left to diffuse the circuit & get out the room. 50p was found & handed to me with great ceremony, a sense of significance that indicated that this was going to be the first of many lip-related purchases in her life.
But she needed 10p more. The rummaging began again. She couldn’t find it. It was there somewhere, her furrowed brow said. ‘Don’t worry’, I said. ‘It’s 20p each or all 3 for 50p’. The girl barely stopped to thank me before skipping off with her new purchases. I didn’t mind; to see my nemesis making someone else so happy was all the reward I needed.
If she’d have hung around, I would have probably tried to warn her that the lipstick would only disappoint her, that she shouldn’t put her dreams into tubes of coloured fat & pots of coloured paint. But that would have been churlish, quashing the joy of a young girl who can’t wait to be grown up. I felt the same when I got my first ever make-up – a used-up pink blusher from Miss Selfridge, given to me by an older cousin. The memory of that blusher had long faded; seeing the girl with my lipstick brought it back as fresh as if it were yesterday. My cousin’s gift to me; mine to the girl; I couldn’t help but think that pink make-up is like love & the magic penny.
Today I decided to clear out the rest of my lipsticks. In amongst the pile was an old tube that I didn’t recognise. Inside was, of course, a gorgeous shade of pink – exactly what I’d been looking for all along.