I went shopping with my daughter yesterday. She’s a gorgeous, slim, 17 year-old, though right now slightly feral from the HSC. It was her idea, a treat after yesterday’s exam and with a whole three days to study for the next. And she was cashed up, ready to spend her hard earned money. So, you’ll realise that already the fates were closing in. We were doomed.
I decamped early. I had a book (Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312). I ran out of patience in the first shop: a small boutique with a skull fetish. I did my own thing at Dick Smith’s (‘Teenager or pet?’ the shop assistant asked when he saw the damaged iPod plug) and then I found a reasonably civilised corner to read in.
All was well, I thought, until I met a tearful child at the bottom of the escalator. (We have lived in Sydney so long now that this is the escalator of family legend, some of which involves extensive vomiting by my youngest daughter)
The David Jones mirrors had reduced daughter-the-first to a puddle of nothing. I remembered their brilliant lighting, their unflattering angles. I said what I could. How can they expect to sell anything with mirrors like that, I wondered.
And then, foolish woman that I am, I returned with her to the cosmetics section at the back of David Jones. (And perhaps this answers my previous question) We stocked up on items we didn’t know we wanted. Women that looked like old Russian grandmothers offered their assistance. We were inveigled towards a bag of dubious goodies. And then, in search of mascara and possibly foundation, we were caught by a tall, friendly women wearing all black.
She offered us samples, she offered us help. She told us to exfoliate so many times that she seemed like an early version of a Dalek. (And, if ever there is to be a female Doctor Who this woman may well be her mortal enemy) She wore no shoe laces in her shoes.
And finally we left, defeated, almost once again in tears. Today in our own home with our own mirrors and our own way of seeing the world we are slightly restored, somewhat comforted. We have tried all the pots and samples, things we’ll never afford. We are returning to human.