The Makeup Rule

I think we were somewhere in Northern California. It was our annual summer vacation, and I was around 7 or 8 years old. We were in the middle of a town during the morning rush hour, and I remember looking out the window of our station wagon. The woman next to us was pretty, dressed professionally, clearly heading off to a workplace of some sort, and was applying mascara in her visor mirror amid all the hustle and bustle.

I said aloud to anyone who cared to respond, “I want to be like her someday.”

“No, you don’t. A lady who’s prepared always puts her makeup on at home,” my mother told me.

Suddenly, my image of the woman next to me was tarnished. Why didn’t anyone else see her on the pedestal I’d created mere seconds before? She was on the go. In demand. She was making things happen, moving and shaking. Right?

Nope. Wielding a tube of lipstick or curling one’s eyelashes while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle are activities right up there with twerking or stealing someone else’s lunch out of the company fridge. It’s just dumb. Don’t do it. People won’t like you. You’ll be that person.

These days, perhaps because of my mother’s statement at an early age (or perhaps thanks to common sense), I cringe at women who put their makeup on during their morning commute — and there are far too many out there. In fact, one almost hit me this morning. I was behind her and could see the face-powdering going on, so I decided to pass her. As I committed to the lane next to us, she decided that very moment would also be a fantastic time to change lanes, too — only she hadn’t been paying attention, so she didn’t realize I was already there. I did a tappity-tap honk versus laying on the horn, so as to politely (or so I thought) let her know that I was already there.

She flipped me off.

Really? Who knew powdering one’s nose could ever be followed by such an unladylike action? Sheesh.

This morning’s rush hour shenanigans took me back about 30 years to the woman I saw that summer during our family vacation. And you know what? Mom was right. Always put your makeup on at home.

She’s bestowed multiple tidbits of truth and wisdom upon me over the years, but this is just one of many.

Today I am thankful for my mom’s candor and ability to speak her mind on matters seemingly insignificant to others. Putting one’s makeup on at home (save for the mid-day refresh) may be one mark of lady (er, or man…?), but it’s also the mark of a courteous, respectful driver.

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