Where No Man Has Gone Before

iStock_000017043988LargeI don’t consider myself a vain person. Oh, I will spend more time looking in the mirror than I should sometimes, but I don’t go overboard worrying about my looks. Yesterday however was different.

It was my nose.  It doesn’t usually call much attention to itself, and just kind of sits there allowing me to breathe and holding my sunglasses up. But some germ made its home there and turned my winter paleness into a shade of red that WC fields and Rudolph would be proud of.  This, of course, could not stand.So I considered the options. I could ignore it and spend the next several days being amused as people tried to not comment on it in conversation.  I could stay indoors and just wait it out until Spring.  Or I could attempt to cover it up with something. No, not a ski mask, I am talking about the one thing suburban middle aged guys won’t do. Yes...makeup.

 I quickly came up with a solid rationale for pursuing the cosmetic solution. That being it was far more productive for me to go about my day without explaining my nose “situation”.  And also I wouldn’t look like my face was going to explode any second.  So off to the pharmacy I went.

I planned a surgical strike on the local Rite Aid. I would get out of my car and strut into the store as if this was part of my regular sundries shopping routine, find the clearly marked “men’s nose cover-up” section of the store, and grab some basic “Caucasian” colored makeup. I would then buy a couple of other “manly” items like batteries and Right Guard just to round out the shopping list and head to the register. In and out in 10 minutes…tops. Piece of cake, no problemo.

Of course they say that God laughs while we make plans. Well, He must have been in hysterics.  Upon confidently entering the store I discover that the makeup “section” is half the length of the store 10 feet high and has literally thousands of products clamoring for attention.  I am sure there is some gender specific decision process women use to make a selection, but all I could do was stare helplessly, and try in vain to come up with a choice based on logic.

Do I want foundation, powder, concealer, blush, or bronzer?  How about Ultimate Coverage Complexion Crème?  Powder,  liquid, or crayon?  What brand is best? I briefly consider running home to check Consumer Reports, but instead soldier on.

I always thought I was just a basic New England Caucasian. My Italian/English background has given me nothing remarkable in skin tone, but there is no “average  white guy” shade.  Am I pinkish, or brownish, or something in between?  I find myself staring at my hands to get a sense for skin tone, but am not at all confident they are the same color as my shnoz.  How do I not know this after 58 years?!

I think Sherwin Williams and Maybelline hire the from the same talent pool of people to come up with color names, as I found myself bewildered by the many ways you can say “somewhat pinkish tan”.  And I also realized that in the grand scheme of skin tones mine is rather boring and ordinary. Not like some of the bronze and darker colors that seem to have so much more character.  I know I am a combination of “salmon” and “honey” and "Sam Adams" but that doesn't help me one bit.

So after what seemed like an eternity, and with a slight sweat forming, I gave up on making a reasoned purchase. I grabbed some Maybelline Dream WonderTM  Powder, mostly because it looked like something my mom used to buy and skated out of the ladies makeup aisle.  After a minute or two to pick up my manly things, plus a Twix, I headed to the cash register and did the transaction with a minimum of fuss, conversation, and eye contact.

Back at my house I began “Operation Cover Up”.  After a fair amount of somewhat fun trial and error my Dream Wonder powder did a remarkable job covering up my redness.  And after a couple of days I was an old pro at putting it on.  I had to admit I was a little sad to see my nose eventually go back to its natural state as my face looked so “fresh, clean , and youthful” when it had a little help from Maybelline.

This was a learning experience for me.  I realized that women have entire sections of their brain optimized for things we never think about.  And as men we simply don’t appreciate the effort that goes into female grooming.


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