Dear Mark… it has been a while. It has been too long. I’m taking some steps in my life to hopefully resolve that for the future but please allow me to say that, while I may have been gone from the keyboard, you were never gone from my thoughts.
Today I want to talk about makeup. Not in the way that the girly-girls do, however.
I used to wonder why women went to the trouble each day. Are they so desperate to look pretty that they spend so much of their terribly finite time painting themselves up each morning only to wipe it all away that evening?
Some of them, probably. Not me. With few exceptions — interviews, weddings, funerals, et cetera — I went bare-faced and shameless for over a decade.
Then why start again at this late date, one might ask?
People really do treat one differently, based on the “public face” one presents. Full makeup, coordinating outfits, jewelry and accessories to bring it together… it offers a picture of someone who is in control and wants to impress.
Why go to the trouble daily, though?
For the same reasons that Lancelot would strap on his armor every day since childhood. For the same reason he hefts his sword Joyeaux and practices the same way since he was a boy.
The first reason is: there is often no way to know which day will turn out to be important. Lancelot could be faced with a dark knight on a random morning, who may or may not be chivalrous enough to wait until he’s got his gear together. Much the same way as I could meet my CEO walking down the hallway of my office.
One has to be prepared, at any moment in public, to use whatever assets one has both as weapon and shield: draw attention and notice, deflect disparaging comment and poor impressions.
The second reason is: on the days that are known to be important, to be in perfect readiness. On all the probably-not-important days Lancelot can experiment with tightening a set of straps in a different way, settling the vambraces just-so, exchanging old equipment for new to see if it is an improvement. I can experiment with colors, with application, with techniques… on the days it probably will not matter if the experiment is, er, less than satisfactory.
But on the days and nights that matter, like tonight, the daily routine assumes a ritual sensation. Each movement memorized on countless mornings now is full of significance, its own kabuki dance. All that experience is drawn out and brought to bear, honed for this one moment.
I am at war. I am prepared.
Mark — I go tonight to see someone that I used to care for very greatly. I used to go as a supplicant, begging for scraps from his table.
Tonight I go as a warrior-queen, proud and powerful, complete in my own person, asking nothing.
Once the dust has settled, we’ll see whose banner tops the day.
So I sign myself again for you, Mark, as
The Dulcet Battle-cry,