This morning, after a long walk in the park, Roxy and I sat down on a bench to soak up some sun.
A few minutes later, an elderly woman asked if she could join us.
After petting Roxy, she sat down and started rummaging in her purse.
Roxy, thinking it was treat, sat up and watched her intently.
A minute later, the woman pulled out a small compact mirror and a lipstick.
Roxy, convinced the objects weren’t edible, went back to sleep.
Yet, I sat quietly and watched as she carefully applied red lipstick
“Do you think it’s too loud?” she asked.
Embarrassed that she had caught me watching her, I quickly replied “Of course not. It looks nice on you.”
“My husband doesn’t like it. He thinks it’s, what’s the word he uses? Scandalous! He thinks it’s scandalous.”
“Well, I think it’s perfect.”
The lady looked at me and smiled.
“I do too,” she said. “It makes me feel alive, happy. And it’s such a fun color. Wouldn’t you agree?”
I smiled as she bid us farewell and coaxed Roxy to come out from under the bench.
As I walked home, I thought of the woman’s red lipstick and was flooded with memories.
My sister’s favorite.
She always called it her “signature lipstick.”
“Bella,” why would anyone need a signature fragrance when you can have a signature lipstick? After all, people see you before they inhale your scent.”
And she was right.
She was always right.
I remembered how one summer in Spain, my father gave each of us ten thousand “pesetas.”
To a couple of teenagers at the time, this amount was a very generous gift.
Daddy, always the generous soul said, “Girls, spend it on anything you want.”
My sister grabbed my hand and said, “Come, Bella! I know just what I want to buy!”
Ten minutes later, we were walking into a perfume shop called “Fayos” and a half hour later, my sister had spent all her money on Christian Dior make up.
Among her purchases was a red lipstick.
I still remember the name, Christian Dior 846 Sicily.
“You see this lipstick, Bella? It’s going to make me the most popular girl in school. Everyone will come to know me for my beautiful red lipstick.”
And she was right.
Every day, girls would praise her lipstick and ask her where she got it.
One night, I decided to borrow it.
I had a date with a beautiful boy named Bobby and was convinced my sister’s red lipstick would instantly charm him.
As I slicked it on my lips, I knew why she loved it so much.
It was shiny red, smooth, and sexy.
At the end of the night however, I realized my decision to wear the red lipstick, hadn’t been a wise one.
After a prolonged make out session, Bobby, red lipstick smeared all over his face and shirt collar, looked like a vampire after a killing.
Looking at myself in the mirror, I was horrified to see that I hadn’t fared any better.
The red lipstick had extended itself clear out to my cheeks giving me the appearance of a rodeo clown.
Rubbing it off didn’t help and as Bobby furiously tried to wipe his face clean, I was reminded of my sisters words.
“Bella, Dior lipstick is not like ordinary lipstick. It stains your lips and the color lasts forever.”
Forever having red lipstick on his handsome face wasn’t something Bobby looked forward to and he angrily asked, “Why can’t you wear pink lipstick like all the other girls?”
Needless to say, I knew then Bobby wasn’t man enough for a woman in red, so I slammed his car door and walked away, head held high.
Thanking the gods that it was late, I hurried to my room.
There, I found my sister, lipstick in hand, sitting on my bed.
“Oh my God! You look like a clown! I don’t even have to ask you if you used my lipstick.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll never use it again.”
“Good. Cause it’s my signature lipstick. Copycats not allowed,” she said, and flounced out of the room.
Many years have passed since then and now I only wear red lipstick on special occasions; during times when I’m in a playful mood or want to look sexy.
And every time I do, I almost feel guilty about borrowing my sister’s “signature” color.
But then I remember Bobby and think, the world definitely needs more men who can handle a woman in red.