Cherry red armour

I had a boyfriend once who said “sometimes when you talk I just watch your bright red lips move.” I wasn’t even insulted.
I could probably trace every tube of red lipstick I own to an event in my life: a birthday, a loss, a move. Some moment of re-grouping, taking stock, pulling myself together so to speak. Luckily I don’t have the kind of mind that can remember that it was firetruck or crimson joy I bought the day after I couldn’t stop crying about babies. I just remember the feeling. Wandering down the drugstore aisle, looking for a potion to protect me. Lucky because who wants to be reminded, each time you pick up the tube? That’s the opposite of magic. But i do see the pattern.  And the lipsticks themselves piled in my drawer.
Viva glam crimson joy sex on the beach cherry couture firetruck.
I purge them from time to time which is good and another argument for not attaching too much significance to what are supposed to be consumable products. That Viva Glam is ancient though. Part of me wishes I had kept every single one, every attempt to put my best foot forward, put on my best face, make the world sit up and take notice.
I had a boss who the one and only time I wore lipstick to work said “you look the girls on the corner.”  I was deeply insulted. Not the least because it was a lie, the girls who worked on our corner were Downtown Eastside survival sex trade workers and wore cutoffs and flipflops. It was one thing to be called a whore, another to be called a victim.
So what am I getting ready for now, this last month that I’ve bought two lipsticks in a paler shade of red. A slight shift in tone. So far I’ve only tried them out at home. Who are you? I say to the face in the mirror. Who do you think you are ?

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