Made Up

When I met him, I had a faceful of false eyelashes. No glasses. Four-inch heels (although that's not so unusual, for me).

The week before our first date, I fretted. I stressed. My everyday solution to easy glamour is red lipstick, but I wanted to do nothing that would discourage this man from kissing me.

 

I'd faced many first dates bare-faced, but never before had I met a man in anything other than my natural state. How would he react?

 

He didn't mention it, at least not that night. Completely undeterred, he couldn't keep his hands off me.

 

We slept together for a few months, and he started calling me his girlfriend. I invited him to a holiday party at my

apartment, with all my friends; I wore sequins and got my make-up done again. "You look so pretty," he whispered to me. I glowed from his compliment, but that nagging feeling was back. Was I only pretty with make-up? This idea didn't just come from him; I could see for myself, in the mirror, in photos, how much more pretty and perfect I was with a smoky eye.

 

Anytime we met for a party, if I had time, I'd stop at Sephora first, stepping into a character for the night. Once, he asked me to pick up an eyeliner pencil for him.

 

And standing there next to him in the bathroom mirror, I got it. Shit. He looked so pretty. Simultaneously himself, and Other. Dangerous. Sexy; no more so than usual, it was just more obvious.

 

Of course! he looked good without make-up too.

 

Of course! I loved him both ways.

 

Of course I wanted him to look however he wanted to, too.

(2018)