Tuesday, February 22, 2005

About Face

This is actually about MY face. I just came back from three days of skiing -- a good thing to do in February in New England -- but for some reason I forgot my make-up bag and since I was just with my 9-year old son and a mountain of fellow skiiers and a hotel of strangers, I decided to just spend the three days without any make-up on.

I'm not some painted-face dolled up babe on most days, but I actually felt really naked without my make-up. My mother barely ever wore any. I never wore any until I moved to Los Angeles when I was in my thirties and my girlfriends there warned me of sun and sand and salty sea ready to ruin my face. They were right and welcomed me into the face-painting tribe, showing me how to do it. LA is great that way. You don't just meet a girlfriend who can show you how to do your face and hair. You end up living next door to a professional make-up artist or hairdresser or wig-maker or costume designer, or all of the above, and they REALLY show you how to care for yourself.

So I learned a few things along the way and I've been doing my face every morning since. And you get used to doing that without noticing how different you look when you don't have it on.

And these past three days, I decided there was something right about not caring a hoot about face or hair, because when you ski, it's such a thrilling, wild, carefree undertaking, you really do throw caution to the wind and who cares what you look like. You've got snow and ice hitting you in the face, wind blowing your hair every which way and you're sweating and careening and swearing and screaming and having a helluva time.

Which reminds me of other times I've let other people see my real face. Of course, that same intensity of skiing and conquering mountains happens on the day you give birth, your VERY REAL face is there, in agony, in excitement, in pain, in tears, in joy.

And stepping back a bit -- how did you get into that hospital giving birth anyway -- and doing all that heavy breathing to bring forth that messy baby -- oh yeah, another naked face opportunity -- making love. More heavy breathing. I love that part of making love -- the naked face part. Oh yes, some men have seen my real face. Up close and personal.

It might start late at night with two party-people, me and him, all dressed up, maybe tuxedo'ed and gowned, all made-up, my hair all done up. One look -- he knows how to make that look -- a bit like fishing, he sets the hook with that damned look. He goes in for the kill. In close. And he will demolish maquillage, will kiss away lipstick, remove powder, mess with my lashes, unbundle my blond do, stroke a cheek, erasing my store-bought blush, putting real blush in its place. We will jointly nibble and smear away at one another, his five-o'clock shadow a wonderful cheeky sandpaper, rough but soft too and smiling. I want to rub up against that face and savor that soft man mouth, small oasis, in that sandy desert of sexy grinning boy -- those eyes. It feels great to be grated. When he said he wanted to see me naked, is this what he meant? My bare ass naked face.

And is that bare face more me than Me? I don't know, but tonight if I take a peek at that face, it has all of my very young babyish 12-year-old girl smarts and all the fine-lined wisdom of my old mom's face, all mixed into one. It's a game face, ready to play, game for anything, able to face the music, requires no saving, just wants to be there to say, "okay, what's next?"