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Finer Cosmetics
by Betty Wilson Beamguard

I'm never fully satisfied with my makeup foundation, so I decided to try one of the better department store lines. I marched into Dillard's and approached the guy flitting around behind the Elizabeth Arden counter. He said he wasn't the Elizabeth Arden representative, but graciously offered to locate her for me.

I said, "Wait, I may not need her. Could you give me some idea of the prices?"

He said, "In that line and most all the others, liquid makeup base costs from twenty to forty dollars or more."

I said, "Forget it. I don't need her."

Then he told me he thought Clinique might cost a little less than twenty. I'd been paying nine or ten, so what was a little more? I approached a cluster of women at the Clinique counter, guessing the Elizabeth Arden lady was among them. But hey, I've clerked in a department store and know how mind-numbingly dull that job can be when business is slow. You can count, dust and arrange the merchandise but when that's finished, what else is there to do? You have no place to hide to read, you can't nap and you're not allowed to tie up the phone, so it's chat with other clerks or go crazy.

As the Clinique lady led me to the other side of the square glass counter, I noted that she was not your usual cosmetic saleslady. She was over fifty and had obviously never been a beauty. She pointed out a stool, I sat and she reached for a tester. After she smeared a dab on my chin, I scrutinized the results in the mirror and asked for something a teensy bit darker.

She said, "This is ivory. Ivory is what you need. You want it to blend with your skin tone around the edges. Your color will come from your lipstick and your rouge."

That might have been what they taught her in Clinique school, but I don't use much lipstick or rouge. My main reason for wearing makeup is so I won't look dead. Morgue dead, not funeral dead. I've seen people so nicely done up in their caskets that they looked better than they looked while still kicking.

Since I insisted on something with more color, she reached for Creamy Chamois. With authority and a touch of pride, she pronounced that "sham-wa."

I pictured Miss Piggy saying, "Mois?" I could tell by her tight lips she was convinced I was committing a grave beauty error by going darker, but she dabbed a little beside the other spot. It wasn't as dark as I would have liked, but I told her I'd try it.

Next she attempted to sell me a compact by telling me the powder would set the foundation and make it stay on all day. She said, "That's what I do and I never have to redo my makeup during the day." I gazed at her pasty, gunked face in the special lighting and quickly decided against the powder finish.

Catching on that I was a hopelessly cheap, hard-headed sort of customer, she refrained from suggesting creams and lotions to go along with the makeup. She rang up the sale and told me how to return it if I wasn't completely satisfied. I'm sure she fully expected me to come wagging it back.

The next morning, I spread Clinique's balanced makeup base on one half of my face and L'ORÉAL Air Wear on the other half. I couldn't tell where one left off and the other began. Same color. Same texture. So it's back to Wal-mart next time I need makeup. That's five dollars I can spend on something else.


Write Betty W. Beamguard at this address.

Betty Wilson Beamguard, a writer of Southern women’s fiction, poetry, and essays, has received numerous awards for her writing, and her work has appeared in Wild Violet, Whim’s Place, Misadventures of Moms, Catfish Stew, Readerville Journal, and more. She has published one novel, the humorous Weej and Johnnie Hit Florida.

Read another of Betty's funny stories at USADS: Hanging Out At The Tienda

Find out more about this witty Southern writer!
WEB SITE: Writing of Betty Beamguard

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