Where No Man Has Gone Before


I 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 its 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 my options. I could ignore it and spend the next several days being amused as people tried to work around it in conversation.  I could stay indoors and just wait it out.  Or three…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 don’t do. Yes.  Makeup.

 I quickly came up with a good 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 I did it every day, find the clearly marked “men’s nose cover-up” section and grab some “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.

They say God laughs while we make plans. Well, He did.  First of all, the makeup “section” is easily half an aisle long and about 10 feet high, and has literally thousands of products staring at you.  I am sure there is some gender specific decision process women use to make an intelligent choice, but all I could do was stare helplessly, and try in vain to come up with a choice based on strange logic I was making up on the spot. Do I want foundation, powder, concealer, blush, or bronzer?  How about Ultimate Coverage Complexion Crème?  Powder,  liquid, or crayon?  What brand is best? Perhaps I should have checked Consumer reports first.

I always thought I was just a basic New England Caucasian, but there is no “white guy” color.  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?!

I think Sherwin Williams and Maybelline hire the same 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 those really interesting bronzed and darker colors. I know I am a combination of “salmon” and “honey” and “Sam Adams”, but those shades aren't easily found.

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 Wonder  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 I headed to the cash register and completed 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 on my disguise.  I had to admit I was a little sad to see my nose eventually go back to its natural state as I looked so “fresh, clean , and youthful” when I 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 work or process that goes into female grooming.

I am ill equipped for many things in this world, and I now have another one to add to the list.