Barbarella
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Society can exist only on the basis that there is some amount of polished lying and that no one says exactly what he thinks. — Lin Yutang

I stood beside David in the atrium on the top floor of the San Diego Natural History Museum and scanned the artwork on the walls. David was one of four photographic artists represented in the exhibition. “So weird that they’re calling this show the ‘color of water’ when your work is black-and-white,” I said. “Maybe it’s a metaphor or something.”

An approaching woman interrupted David’s eye-rolling acrobatics. She was about my mother’s age, with a no-fuss, Midwestern mom haircut that complemented her turtleneck and denim button-down combo. But it was her face that caught my attention.

It was like staring at an optical illusion. I struggled to identify the underlying image (her features) beneath layers of distraction (her makeup). Something was off about her lips. I watched as they moved this way and that to form questions for David about his work, and after a minute or so I figured it out: she had two mouths — her actual lips, and the coral paste she’d smeared over them, in the shape of her lips, but a few millimeters to the left, as if she had been trying to center them beneath her nose.

The plight of her eyes was more obvious. Her lids were naked, lashless — I wondered if she’d Tammy Faye’d them to extinction. Beneath each eye she had a straight, Sharpie-thick line of dark-blue liner. I was reminded of school, when I’d use a bold marker to underline a topic so I wouldn’t forget to go back and address it. I was so busy examining her eyes that I missed what her mouths were saying. “I’m sorry, what was that?”

“I said, you must be very proud to have such a talented husband,” said the woman.

“Yes.” I willed myself to look only at her pupils and not the surrounding area. “I’m a lucky woman.” I turned and shared a smile with David. Once my gaze had been broken, I kept my eyes from drifting above her turtleneck. “I’ll let you two talk some more,” I said. “I’m going to get a refill on my coffee.” Once I was out of sight, I snuck a glimpse of myself in my tiny compact mirror to make sure all my war paint looked the same as when I’d applied it that morning.

After the show, David and I walked over to the Prado for lunch. It was a warm Saturday afternoon, perfect for dining al fresco and sipping honey-scented white wine. While we waited for our food, David started to make small talk.

“Did you notice —”

“That poor woman’s hatchet job? Yeah,” I said, and followed it up with a wounded, How could you think I would miss that expression.

“I really wanted to say something,” David said.

“You’re not serious.” I studied his face. “You are serious. God, I’m so happy you didn’t. What would you have said? Wait, how did you know it was so bad? Every girl you dated before me wouldn’t know her concealer from her highlighter.”

“First of all, I recognized that it was a disaster,” David said. “I’m trying to have a conversation with her, and all the time I’m thinking, Don’t stare at her bad makeup. It was serious badness, and not in a Michael Jackson kind of way.” David savored his quip with a sip of wine and then continued, “I would say, ‘My wife has professionally done makeup for many people and helped people achieve a better look by not doing so much underlining.”

I winced. “I would have died,” I said.

“No, I’d do it in a nice way. I’d turn it into a compliment. Like, ‘You have nice eyes. Perhaps they’d look better with a more natural look.”

“Trust me, a woman knows — there’s no way to nice up the news that for all her apparent effort, she didn’t look as good as she thought.”

“Didn’t you help your coworker that one time by suggesting she stop using that dark lip-liner?”

“I never said anything to her,” I confessed.

I found David’s philanthropic interest in other women’s makeup endearing, especially given his past attitude toward cosmetics. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said he’d never dated a woman before me who wore makeup. I’m surprised that David — a guy historically drawn to bare faces — ever clicked on my online personal profile, in which I declared “red lipstick” as one of the five things I couldn’t live without.

“Why’d you never tell me I’d look better with a ‘natural’ look?” I asked. “Sure, I don’t cake on the foundation and powder, but I do it up with black eyeliner and lipstick. That never bothered you?”

“I like the way you wear your makeup — it complements rather than distracts from your features.”

“So, you think if someone does a distracting job, they need to know about it — from a stranger?”

David leaned forward, into his seated argumentative stance. “If I was walking around with my fly unzipped, I’d appreciate it if someone told me.”

“Well, yeah, but that’s totally different,” I countered. “I’d want someone to tell me if I had toilet paper on my shoe, something I didn’t spend 20 minutes carefully attaching to it.”

“What if someone is a repeat offender? What if they’re doing it every day and it looks terrible — shouldn’t somebody tell them? What if someone’s dressing terribly? Don’t all those makeover shows encourage us to help them?”

“Yeah, if you’re someone close, someone they trust,” I said. “Especially if they’ve been dressing that way for years — the way people dress, that’s their identity. How would you like it if I said those jeans you’ve been wearing all these years look terrible on you?”

“I’d say, ‘Thank you,’ and, ‘Let’s go shopping,’” David said.

“Smart-ass. You know what I mean.”

We halted the discussion when our server delivered our plates. David took a bite of his skirt-steak panini and chewed over the points we’d each made. “I say you tell someone,” he said.

“I say you don’t,” I said. “And, may I add, you didn’t. So, clearly, on some level, you agree with me.”

“I just didn’t have the right opportunity,” David grumbled.

“Well do me this one favor.” I set down my glass and gave him my serious face. “The next time you have the urge to save someone from their own poor judgment, wait until I’m out of the room.”

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Comments

gfalke1 March 2, 2011 @ 1:48 p.m.

Barbarella, I side with you. I was always taught that you only speak up about something an individual can address and fix right that moment. This includes toilet paper on the shoe, spinach in the teeth, an earring about to fall off, an untied shoe.

You shouldn't even remark about someone's bad breath unless you can hand over breath mints, mint tea or a toothbrush.

It is rude to make remarks about someone's makeup. It's unlikely this woman could have stepped into the restroom, removed all the offending clown paint, and then reapplied it in a pleasing way.

Whether a friend should pull her aside and tell her that she's making a fool of herself is a completely separate issue. I say it's worth a follow-up column.

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MsGrant March 2, 2011 @ 2:17 p.m.

I have to chime in on this one - I don't think something like that should be brought up either, if you don't know the person - or even if you do. They could have a hand tremor, poor eyesight, any number of things that could effect their appearance. The feminist in me also says "enough". We women get judged far too often on our appearance alone as if it is indicitive of character. Everyone is unique and typically if a person dresses or applies makeup consistently in the same manner, they are aware of their choice. And that is the only one that counts.

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erictreed March 2, 2011 @ 3:34 p.m.

Kindness goes a long way for both parties in a situation like this one. The detailed description of what the writer thought was a bad makeup job seemed unkind to me. No one knows if the person is question was ill and just made the effort to see the exhibition. Eyes without lashes could be the result of chemotherapy. Why should another person's appearance be anyone's concern but that person's ?

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antigeekess March 2, 2011 @ 6:20 p.m.

Agree completely with Grantie on all points. Poor woman could have been attempting to cover a number of medical issues.

You 2 need to stop being so obsessive-compulsively perfectionistic (in your opinions of what perfection is) about crap that doesn't matter anyway, and mind your own beeswax.

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MsGrant March 3, 2011 @ 7:26 a.m.

I think in ten years you will look back on this and cringe. When I think of how obsessive I was about appearance back in my early thirties I am ashamed. Live and let live. Society should not judge people based on their makeup or lack thereof. It is how you conduct yourself that matters. Both of your reactions to this woman COMPLIMENTING the work, which was the entire point, speaks volumes.

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jenihana3 March 3, 2011 @ 8:25 a.m.

All of these comments are very PC. The truth is if you see anybody with caked on make-up you notice and not in a good way. You may not say anything, but no matter what the reason is for the “hatchet job” on the face you definitely notice. Thank you Barbarella for keeping it real and writing what we are all thinking!

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MsGrant March 3, 2011 @ 12:30 p.m.

Well, I suppose I can see the other side of the coin, but I still do not think it is our place to tell other people if they are not skilled in applying makeup. It would only hurt her feelings and really what have you accomplished by doing so? You might even lose a potential client. Now, if your best friend has a booger hanging out of their nose, that is another story!!

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antigeekess March 3, 2011 @ 6:04 p.m.

Grantie, I will always tell you if you have a booger. :)

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MsGrant March 4, 2011 @ 6:44 a.m.

Thanks, anti. Now that's the Golden Rule.

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nan shartel March 4, 2011 @ 1:47 p.m.

sounds like HER face was MORE interesting then the photography...an interesting turn about ;=D

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Grandpuba March 5, 2011 @ 11:19 a.m.

I think it was a good thing he didn't say anything. Saying that to a person who has been wearing the same makeup for over a decade would have been just as bad as saying "your face is horrible, have you ever thought of having plastic surgery to replace the whole thing". The women I have known have been wearing the exact same makeup and applying it the exact same way since high school, it has pretty much become an extension of their physical bodies.

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Barbarella Fokos March 5, 2011 @ 2:49 p.m.

Good point, Grandpuba, and great to meet you today! You were very kind to not point out that I had no makeup on and my hair was all frizzy. ;)

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MsGrant March 6, 2011 @ 7:33 p.m.

And, drumroll please....the only person to warrant a response is...a drooling fan!! Later. Oh, and, your makeup sucks. How does it feel....

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MsGrant March 6, 2011 @ 7:53 p.m.

I missed what her mouths were saying. “I’m sorry, what was that?”

“I said, you must be very proud to have such a talented husband,” said the woman.

“Yes.” I willed myself to look only at her pupils and not the surrounding area. “I’m a lucky woman.” I turned and shared a smile with David. Once my gaze had been broken, I kept my eyes from drifting above her turtleneck..."

This might be the most hateful thing I have ever heard.

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MsGrant March 6, 2011 @ 8:02 p.m.

I remember the only time I met you in person. I looked down and was shocked. Most do not know that you are overweight. Do you share this?

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Barbarella Fokos March 6, 2011 @ 8:48 p.m.

Wow. Holy Sh*t Triple Wow. MsGrant, if you must know, this "woman" is a composite of three different people, and I opted not to say anything in all cases of horrific face paint (no strokes involved). How hypocritical of you to call me out for being mean and then try to take a potshot by "outing" me for being overweight. FYI, I'm on TV at least once a month and I wrote a cover feature for the Reader called Being Fat Sucks. No secret I'm a big girl.

I didn't realize you were so hungry for a response from me. I thought you were just sharing your view, as I shared the kind of conversations and thoughts that most people have every day. I mean, WOW.

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punkmar77 March 6, 2011 @ 9:15 p.m.

Ha! What a lively little hater, obviously Ms. Grant you don't follow any of your own advice. Is Barb not allowed to wonder on the etiquette of a given situation out loud? What if the lady in question applied her makeup without the advantage of a mirror, or in a rush. Either way your comments about Barbarella were just plain mean-spirited, the lady in the ill applied warpaint at least was anonymous.

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david March 6, 2011 @ 9:20 p.m.

MsGrant,

To say,

"I don't think something like that should be brought up either, if you don't know the person - or even if you do... The feminist in me also says "enough". We women get judged far too often on our appearance alone as if it is indicative of character... When I think of how obsessive I was about appearance back in my early thirties I am ashamed. Live and let live. Society should not judge people based on their makeup or lack thereof. It is how you conduct yourself that matters."

AND THEN to go on to say to Barbarella,

"I remember the only time I met you in person. I looked down and was shocked. Most do not know that you are overweight."

has got to be the most hypocritical thing I have heard since Ted Haggard preached that homosexuality was an abomination.

And just to recap the facts, Barbarella, unlike yourself, never said ANYTHING to ANY of the women, and she kept the women's names anonymous to boot.

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gabrielthibodeau March 6, 2011 @ 11:37 p.m.

MsGrant,

I think you should know that readers of this column will no longer take your comments seriously; you have destroyed your own personal credibility by behaving with such cruelty. It's one thing to have an opinion, but to attempt to degrade a writer ("attempt" being the operative word) without cause or solicitation is another thing altogether. Barbarella's column is written in the style of a first person entertainment memoir. She's supposed to share her thoughts with us. You're allowed to disagree, but please understand that your fellow readers expect a certain amount of respect and integrity from you and your comments.

In the future, please follow the guidelines printed above the comment box, which read, "We prohibit...the harassment and abuse of others...Talk about the site content, not each other."

Please and thank you.

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erictreed March 7, 2011 @ 6:26 a.m.

"Someday we'll be able to measure the power of words."

Maya Angelou

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Founder March 7, 2011 @ 7:38 a.m.

So where is a link to the photographs/images?

BTW: My rule of thumb is that if something is really bothering me (like bad breath) I mention it privately and then literally "move on"...

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Barbarella Fokos March 7, 2011 @ 8:50 a.m.

Founder, if you're referring to David's images, here's a link to his web site: www.davidfokos.com.

Thanks for asking!

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Founder March 7, 2011 @ 10:19 a.m.

I was and it made my morning... I'm sure you can both picture that!

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TigerBlood March 7, 2011 @ 7:43 a.m.

What does it matter how big Barbarella is? Is this part of the new feminism? As you said, MsGrant, "We women get judged far too often on our appearance alone as if it is indicative of character."

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MsGrant March 7, 2011 @ 7:57 a.m.

Whooo, wait, this is not me!! Someone hacked my account through Facebook and somehow got my passwords for my e-mail and all kinds of stuff! I was actually off Facebook for over a week because I was infecting everyone I know's accounts as well. This person had my IP address and everything and obviously still does. I just spent over $200.00 to have my laptop trouble-shot and the guy that did it suggested I get a new desk-top and pitch my laptop off the pier!! I am terribly sorry. I have no idea who this is but you should have seen the virus I had - it put a warning on my desktop that said something to the effect of "THIS IS A WARNING - EVERYTHING YOU HAVE EVER DONE IS PERMANANT AND THIS COULD EFFECT YOUR WORK, YOUR LIFE, YOUR WIFE!!", or some such nonsense. I had to change my passwords for EVERYTHING (including credit cards), but I did not change my Reader password (didn't think it was that important - big mistake). I think there are some out there that can vouch for me regarding this and know what hell I went through. Please know I would never be so hateful. I am on my husband's desktop right now because I just checked my blackberry for messages and there was one from a friend that said "Is this you??" and I read the attachment and went "oh, no, not again." I actually just quit a writer's group I was added to (I did not join willingly, someone added me) because someone linked your article and said something bad. I was at the Humane Society yesterday for the telethon. I do not spend my time being hateful, but someone has it out for me. Crap. I am really sorry about this.

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Barbarella Fokos March 7, 2011 @ 8:06 a.m.

Huh. Strange that someone would hack your account to add you to writing groups and go crazy commenting in a place you often comment. Maybe this will help you find the culprit. This comment, posted by your account, which you claim is not you: "I remember the only time I met you in person. I looked down and was shocked. Most do not know that you are overweight. Do you share this?"

Whoever hacked your account knows you well enough to know that you and I met in person "only" once. AND knows that, at the time (I've lost some weight since then), I was a very big girl. Your hacker must be someone very close to you. Good luck with that.

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antigeekess March 7, 2011 @ 5:44 p.m.

I believe her, Barb. Regarding this...

"I actually just quit a writer's group I was added to (I did not join willingly, someone added me) because someone linked your article and said something bad."

...Grant had already told me about that incident. Another CERTAIN CONTRIBUTOR TO THE READER slammed you, and she had actually bailed on the group to not be a part of it.

In my opinion, there are 4 suspects -- 2 females & 2 males. All of them are contributors or former contributors to the Reader website. It's just bloody effing hard to tell which one, because all four are equally crazy -- a veritable smorgasbord of screamingly obvious personality disorders and substance abuse issues. Unfortunately, they're all fairly bright as well. At least one of them prides himself on being a "hacker."

Will elaborate further in email, if you're interested enough to inquire. In the meantime, I'd be a little suspicious of any sh*t-stirring newbies you spot in your comments.

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Barbarella Fokos March 7, 2011 @ 6:23 p.m.

Haha! Well said. Now that you mention it, there are two people that fit your description that come to mind. One female, one male, both batsh*t and lacking in the emotional maturity department. I'll work with our admins to get to the bottom of it. The more I learn, the more I'm understanding that this is indeed a personal hack job on behalf of an obsessed lunatic. Someone MsGrant and I OWN, because anyone who spends that much time and energy trolling and bashing clearly belongs heart, mind, and soul to the subject of sick infatuation. Now let's see if the psycho can resist hacking into someone's account to respond to MY comment. Irritating, but also funny and sad, if you think about it.

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jenihana3 March 7, 2011 @ 8:09 a.m.

Ms Grant - Someone hacked your computer to write a comment about an article in the Reader? Really? I’m gonna have to call B.S. on this one.

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Barbarella Fokos March 7, 2011 @ 8:19 a.m.

Also, your hacker seems to have posted a friendly comment on Nan's blog yesterday (http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...), within minutes of lighting up this page.

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Duhbya March 7, 2011 @ 2:17 p.m.

As to the comment linked above, I can't envision MsG saying "Holy crap" even if she had a mouthful of it.

And jenihana, it's obvious that wackyhacky was/is on more of a mission than to just disrupt her Reader postings.

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jenihana3 March 7, 2011 @ 3:59 p.m.

Please don't take this meanly, but, it's ridiculous to think that a hacker would care about leaving a comment on the Reader. Unless of course her little brother or sister stole her passwords.

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David Dodd March 7, 2011 @ 4:25 p.m.

You obviously do not know how simple it is to hack a Facebook account, nor how often it happens.

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SurfPuppy619 March 7, 2011 @ 8:40 p.m.

Please don't take this meanly, but, it's ridiculous to think that a hacker would care about leaving a comment on the Reader.

Are you kidding me??

There are serious NUT caes out there that troll posting forums, I know that first hand because I have had problems with stalkers myself. My solution was pretty simple though, just sue their panties off, you're just two subpeona's away from an identity and once that ball gets set in motion people think real hard about inflicting such distress on others!

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jenihana3 March 8, 2011 @ 8:09 a.m.

I guess I didn’t realize someone would spend that much time and energy hacking into an account just to leave a negative comment. But, I guess I was wrong. I feel bad for the person who would do that, really it’s quite pathetic. I hope you get to the bottom of this.

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Founder March 7, 2011 @ 10:14 a.m.

"Creative writing is just that, both creative and reflective, often inviting criticism about a controversy-

Has everyone forgotten that this column is titled, "A Diary of a Diva?"

Diva being the operative word here, meaning that it is written in the form of a "Prima Dona"...

You go Barbarella

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nan shartel March 7, 2011 @ 12:22 p.m.

Grantie is never this mean to anyone Babs...i believe her

and even hackers r nice to my Throwaway Poetry...it's a kinda be nice to the old lady thing don't ya know....hahahahahahahaha ;=D

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nan shartel March 7, 2011 @ 12:54 p.m.

Davids photography is gorgeous Babs...the web page photo remind me so much of where i lived in rural Oregon...a dry wheatland farming community ;-D

please give him my KUDOS on his work!!!

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