Always Wear Lipstick

My mother believed that you should try to look your best. You may not be beautiful but you should always make an effort to dress and look as nice as possible which included wearing make-up…. in particular, lipstick.

Even if we were walking down a country road and would only see cows, we had to first put on our lipstick before we headed out the door. Thus, the saying between my mother and me was “You can’t go to the mailbox without wearing lipstick.”

This came into play recently due to some issues in my life. Issue #1: I have a small mouth…. and before my family and friends send me emails saying “since when?”  I have to add I have small mouth in terms of physical jaw structure and thus, my 4 bottom teeth are crooked.

Unfortunately for me, one of these teeth had disintegrated underneath the gum and thus, I basically had no root and was having pain in what was left of the tooth above the gum. The only option was to take it out. But that led to Issue #2: the space remaining was going to be too small for a fake tooth so I would need to wear braces to close the gap.

Great—I get to be a 62 year old divorcee with a hole in her mouth and braces.  But it was either that or keep the gaping hole. As I have no desire to go through life looking like a jack-o-lantern, the braces seemed to be justified.

But first I had to have the surgery. Without truly thinking all this through, I asked the Gentleman Caller with Smiling Eyes*(GCSE) if he would drive and bring me home.  The surgery was going to involve general anesthesia and as capable as I think I am, they said I had to have a ride home.


It was only AFTER I asked him and he agreed to help, that I got the details of the surgery. To begin with, they told me I could not wear make-up; I should wear sweat pants and a loose top; I could not wear my contacts lens…I would have to wear my glasses.

And the final insult is that I would get to leave their office sucking on a gauze pad stuffed in my mouth for at least 30 minutes and thus, I would not be wearing lipstick at that point either.

My mother would not approve.

The only pair of sweat pants I own are a black fuzzy winter pair. This issue necessitated a trip to Chico’s where I purchased a pair of black traveler’s stretchy pants, a loose fitting sleeveless top and a very nice loose beautiful aqua-blue jacket. (It was my hope that the blue color would be so dazzling that the GCSE would not notice the gauze pad in my mouth.)

I then called the oral surgeon’s office and told the helpful staff member that I would be showing up wearing a tad of blush-on and lipstick. I explained this was due to the fact that I was a 62 year old divorcee and my “ride” was the man I was dating. I would be more than willing to tone the make-up down a bit or even remove it when I went back to the Operating Room but I was not walking into their office without wearing lipstick. (Truth is…even if my son was taking me, I would have insisted on the same thing.)

So, the day of surgery, I arrived in my dazzling surgery outfit—and wearing glasses and a touch of makeup. They whisked me back to the OR area and start hooking up IVs and oxygen and so forth. And then the tech starts to put over my hair one of those little hat-things—like what they wear in the delicatessen selling lunch meat.

I immediately had images floating in my head of the GCSE coming back to see me and I am propped up in bed or a wheelchair; eyes not focused; no make-up; gauze pad in my mouth and now wearing a paper hat tilted crookedly on my head.

Not a pretty picture.

So, I looked at the tech and I said to her…. “here’s the deal. I am dating the man in the waiting room and before you bring him back here, please take this hat off and fluff my hair.” (It is probably the first time a patient every made such a request but she seemed to take it in stride.)

Anesthesia is so weird…… I swear that one second the male technician was telling me he would give me some medicine and then I swear the very NEXT second the lady technician is talking to me. My mind was a bit foggy but I noticed that the IVs were gone, the oxygen was gone and she was saying “oh good, you are awake. Everything is over and it went well. We are going to get you up in the wheelchair and have your friend come back to get you.”

And then she bends down…. looks kindly at me and says “and by the way, I fluffed your hair.”

God Bless Her.

The rest of the day was interesting but uneventful….. and three weeks later I got my braces.

I shared in a previous post my desire to create for my grandchildren a list of “Nana’s Rules” modeled on Gibbs Rules from the TV show NCIS. In that post I wrote What would I include on a written “Nana’s Rules” list? When the day comes that I am no longer here, I would like to think that my grandchildren could be sitting around a table with their parents or friends and if an issue came up in conversation, they could say “hmmm.. Nana would say Rule #7” and everyone would know what it means. I want them to know what I stood for and the values that formed the core basis for my decisions.”

(Nana’s Rules:

I have also given some thought to having rules that connect my grandchildren with their great-grandparents….. so there will be a thread of family values woven throughout the fabric of their lives.

With that in mind, I am now adding Rule #5 to my list… and it will simply be “Always wear lipstick.” This is a shorter version of “You can’t go to the mailbox without wearing lipstick” but I have some concerns as to the possibility of mailboxes becoming extinct in the future.

Rule #5: “Always wear lipstick” will mean that she should be willing to make an effort to look her best. The balancing act on such a rule is to not send a message that says what is important in life is just her looks… that her beauty and attractiveness come only from her external features.

I will need to also share with her that true and lasting beauty comes from inside…. from the qualities such as love and generosity and kindness and other fruits of the spirit.

I hope “Rule #5: Always wear lipstick” will encourage her to make an effort in all aspects of her life to do her best—and how she presents herself to others in private and in public is an important part of that.

But I will also use that rule to share with her some stories about her great-grandmother …. Virginia Anne Grant Filer….. A woman who always tried to do her best in everything she did…. who lived her faith and her love for family and friends … who loved her husband and was his true life-long partner…….

And who always wore lipstick.