Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fire and Ice

Crimson red. Her favorite color. Always. Dresses. Scarves. Shoes. Sweater sets. And one ridiculous looking felt chapeau. Through the years we could see her coming. Larger than life smile. The straightest, whitest teeth. Framed by Revlon's Fire and Ice reflecting her moods. 1950s chic. Elegant. Sensual. Cool. Nails enameled brilliant. Oh la la. I couldn't wait to stop biting mine so I could wear brilliant nail polish comme ma mere. Magic and adventure awaited.

Every day she'd search the bottom of her large purse until the familiar tube emerged and she reapplied the crimson stain to her lips. Even when she awoke in a hospital bed from an anesthetic-induced haze she begged for me to apply a smear of Fire and Ice to her grey parched lips before her surgeon made his rounds. To be dressed, presentable had little to do with one's attire ... but everything to do with a flourish on the lips.

1980s Manhattan. Enter Red Door Red. Le salon Elizabeth Arden on Fifth Avenue a city block or two from my mid-town corner office in a building of glass and steel. Up to the third floor reverie and quietude. Tres elegant. Tres chic. My darling Cuban manicurist, Anna, filed my nails adoringly every week so I could channel the look found on the most fashionable Paris runways and in midwestern American since the early fifties. And, so she could gossip.

Like my mother, my lips and the tips of my fingers dared all women to adorn the enduring look. To flirt with Fire and dare to skate on thin Ice. That was me. My SATC self. Midnight negotiations winded down and we used the fired up adrenaline to dance the night away at Limelight before cooling down at Odeon for cafe au lait and a sweet then headed back uptown to shower and dress and begin the cycle anew. Red lips and nails still shiny. Provocative. Smart. Sassy. Exciting. In charge.

This afternoon my mother and I went to the local shopping mall to return some lingerie and look for a birthday gift. As we prepared to head out the door of her stunning, antique farmhouse on the river leading to the sea she reached in the base of a brass candleholder on the familiar lowboy in the entry hall and swiped her pursed lips with that familiar brilliant red streak. Memories from my childhood flooded the room. I picked up the black plastic tube with the gold endcap and read the color name on the teeny round paper label on the base with even smaller type: Fire and Ice. And blotted my lips in sisterhood.

"In the factories we make lipstick; in the stores we sell hope." How well Charles Revson knew women. My mother. Her friends. And, well, me.

Cheers to our dreams! Lipstick stained glass rims be damned.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, Alice. A lovely portrait. With you at the helm, I'm a time traveler and you're the beautiful guide. Thank you.