Thursday, May 3, 2012

Devil May Care

She was no spring chicken. She’d long since stopped kidding herself.   But she wasn’t exactly so old and tough that she was ready for the stewpot, either.

Staring at a lipstick display at the five and dime, Myrtle was lost in these thoughts as they paraded through her head.  Focusing on the lipstick again, she considered her current situation.  It had been a few years since she had used lipstick, or any other cosmetics, for that matter.  In fact, the subject of lipstick had not crossed her mind until just now, when she’d walked by this display on her way to find the Epsom salts for Harold’s sore back.  But that very morning Harold had remarked that her glory days were behind her and she should act appropriately for her age.  All because she happened to mention that she was tempted to buy a fashionable new dress.

Myrtle wanted to believe that she was still attractive.  True, she had  let herself go these past few years.  But some new lipstick might be just the ticket for sprucing herself up a bit.  Perhaps red. She started to reach for a tube, and hesitated.

Still staring at the display, Myrtle asked herself a question.  What was she afraid of?  At 39 cents did she really have much to lose?  Her worry, she explained to herself, was that if she made herself look attractive, she might receive some unwanted attention from the opposite sex.  She was, for better or worse, a married woman, and had been for 25 years.  The idea of fighting off an amorous male was too tiring to contemplate.  But who was she kidding?  Searching deep down within her 5’6” frame, Myrtle confronted her actual fear.  That lip rouged or not, new dress or not, no one would notice the difference.

Standing there, in front of all those lipsticks, Myrtle recalled Harold’s words, and they wounded her again.  In an angry rebound,  she straightened her shoulders, chose a daring shade aptly named Devil May Care, and cast Harold and his aches and pains out of her mind.

As Myrtle, head held high in defiance, left the dime store, a delivery man with his cap tilted rakishly down over one eye held the door for her and whistled softly.  Myrtle blushed, as crimson as the lipstick she carried in the small paper bag.

That evening, in the quiet of her bedroom, Myrtle took her diary, filled with nothing but blank pages and despair, and kissed the first page with her freshly painted lips.  She wanted to remember this day.

Sure, she was no spring chicken.  But she wasn’t ready for the stewpot just yet.

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