Wash your face with kerosene

I love cosmetics!
Ever since I was a little girl, pretending a rhododendron leaf dipped in water was a makeup brush dusted with opalescent fluid, the power of beauty products has never been lost on me.
I love it all. The palettes and jars, the brushes and puffs, all of it promising a new and improved me, a fresh face and a new beginning.
I remember once when I was nine, my mother was babysitting a couple little girls one Friday evening. After we watched “Webster,” and before “Dallas” came on, I decided to give those little girls a makeover.
Now, being young as I was, with a hippie mother who wore no cosmetics save for a dab of frangipani oil and some lip balm, my makeup collection was rather limited. But, I was a creative child, and my lack of products and tools left me undeterred.
When I realized I had no blusher in my makeup arsenal, I did what any enterprising makeup artist would do: I grabbed a bottle of pink nail polish and painted stripes on one of the little girls’ cheeks.
“It burns!” she cried.
I had to move quickly before my mom found out what I’d done, so I grabbed a handful of toilet paper and the nail polish remover. Dousing the tissue with acetone, I shushed my young ward.
“Here, be quiet. Let me get this ‘blush’ off your face and I’ll get you a piece of cake,” I told her. “Just don’t tell my mom, okay?”
Turns out, she didn’t have to tell my mom, who, smelling the unmistakable scent of nail polish remover, coupled with hearing the desperate whispers coming from down the hall, decided to investigate just what was going on.
“It’s okay,” I reassured my mother. “I accidentally got some nail polish on Lisa’s face, but I got it off.”
“How?” she asked, not unreasonably.
“With nail polish remover,” I replied impatiently.
“Oh boy,” Mom said, shooing me out of the bathroom and drawing some warm soapy water into the sink basin. “Go on into the living room.”
Another makeover, shut down by the authorities.
• • •
I was reminded of this particular incident the other night.
It was about 7:30, and I was lying on my bed, mindlessly reading news articles on my phone.
My younger daughter called me from downstairs.
“What?” I demanded.
“I need your help.”
“Get Dad,” I said impatiently.
“I did,” she said. “I need your help.”
Uh-oh. I pulled myself up to go see what was going on, mentally inventorying the Band Aids and Neosporin as I walked downstairs.
“What’s up?” I asked her, looking for blood.
She wasn’t bleeding. However, her entire face was covered in a thin layer of bubble gum.
You know how when you’re nine and you like to put an entire pack of gum in your mouth and see how big a bubble you can blow?
We had one of those situations, but she’d been chewing that cheap Bazooka Joe gum (eight pieces, she told me)and had blown and popped an enormous bubble, and it would not come off her face.
“Hmmm,” I said. “Peanut butter supposedly gets gum out of hair…”
I walked into the kitchen and pulled out the Jif and then got a small spatula.
“Let’s see here,” I said, slowly, as I drew the peanut butter across her forehead and on down to her jaw line.
Once I got her face completely covered, I took her to the bathroom to wash up. No dice. We were laughing, but she was still sticky. Except now she was oily, too.
I grabbed my facial spin brush out of the medicine cabinet, ran some more soap over her face, and went over it with the motorized brush. We were getting there.
“Hmmm,” I said again, looking around.
I grabbed a bottle of micellar water, which is some newfangled makeup remover that I recently bought at the store, and moistened a cotton ball.
Success! Her face was finally gum-free!
“I got it!” I announced to Tom.
“Oh good,” he said. “I was about to take her down to the wood shop and wash her face in kerosene.”
“Look,” I told him. “I’ve got experience with this. If you ever get to the point where you think you need kerosene to wash her face, call me first.”
I think that’s a pretty good rule, and I hope everyone sticks to it. Meanwhile, that reminds me, I need to take some nail polish off my toes.


more recommended stories