Thursday, August 6, 2009


On another blog I frequent, one of today's subjects was Mascara. The relative merits of wand and lengthener and the new buzzy one which is supposed to enhance application, but sounds like something from Clockwork Orange, speaking from a No-Moving-Parts-Near-My-Eye stance.

And in my usual too-many-words fashion, I went into a long remembrance of Maybelline-I-Have-Known, reminiscing about a type and method archaic to todays young, trendy audience. It probably came across as akin to speaking of a school slate and chalk to someone pausing mid-texting to give a grudging ear to an old codgess.

But it's MY story, and I'm sticking with it.

Maybelline is a Charter Member of the You've Come A Long Way, Baby Club. Mascara-on-a-stick. Now that's an idea whose time has come and stayed. And stayed.

I think we'd be hard-pressed to find too many people who remember the Real Thing---a subject not unlike pulling a flapper dress out of your closet. That tiny red box, shiny with promise, less than one inch by two, thin as an Andes mint, with its red plastic Barbie-brush with a handle like a toothpick and the tiny track of black, tarry stuff. It even had a wee shard of mirror for squinting into as you worked.

You held the brush under the faucet, gave it a little shake, then stroked it gently along the little furrow of mascara, getting a bit onto the brush, and blinking furiously in reflex as you applied the stuff to your lashes. The coveting of our own FIRST BOX of Maybelline was akin to the months-premature stashing of our first discreet Big Blue Box in the closet, and the flash-and-snap of a quick face-check made sure to show the smart red case.

Application with that tee-ninecy brush was truly a hit-or-miss operation, leaving you with Liza Lashes on one eye, and a wistful unmatched few on the other; great clumps of the clotty stuff would adhere in places, and the Kleenex/finger/Q-tip you used to remove all the stray bits would be smeared with black. Then lightly-feathering grooming of the brows, or a quick two-swoops which often left you looking like a mis-matched Groucho Marx---that completed the application.

And I will not mention a touch-up, between classes or in a smoky Ladies' room or perhaps a furtive back seat, with all the attendant clump-and-cleanup. On those occasions, if there were no handy faucet, girls were known to SPIT onto the brush, smear the resulting black YUK onto their eyes, and leave the germy residue in that tight little box for the next occasion.

I regarded those young women with the same aghast caution as I did the ones who popped out a contact and stuck it on their tongue til they could get to a re-applying place---many a glance to ascertain if they were contracting Pinkeye or becoming in imminent need of a pirate patch.

With the amateur hands wielding the sharp little brushes, the clots and clumps of errant waxy black, and the teeming bacteria which must have infested those gleaming small boxes, sharply SNAPPED over their nasty contents---it's a wonder we were not all blinded for life.


Nail said...

I don't remember this...Maybelline had come a long way baby so I didn't have to spit. I lived in a world of liquid eye liner though, that depending upon your skill would look like Liza or perhaps Morticia Adams. It was all in the length of the line past your eye and whether it curled up or not....I'm just saying.....

Pear tree cottage! said...

I looked like twiggy all those years ago! gosh the stuff I put on my eyes it is a wonder I can now see!!!

(smiles) Lee-ann

Indy Cookie said...

My mom still uses that little red box!! One of my first makeup experiments involved that particular box... however, being auburn and having a black-haired mom led to a less than successful experiment!

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten all about that little box. I didn't have one but now remember mama's. Also reminded me of the college beauty pageant in which I decided to try false eyelashes. Now that was an experience!

You think I could chalk up winning in that pageant to my great long false eyelashes (ha).