I hate my lips. Once they were full and pouty, but now they’re disappearing. As if that’s not bad enough I have an overbite so now that the lips are disappearing, I’m terrified that my veneers are sticking out slightly buck. Who knew?
Carefully I draw the burgundy liner pencil along my lips, extending the lines longer. No way will I get fillers, as my friends who do, have fish lips like Kylie Jenner, and I hate that look. What disturbs me about my thinning lips as not only are my pretty veneers buck out and when I eat I have to discreetly slide in the food as when I chew the lips recede and all you see are the teeth. Even with kissing all I had to do once was touch my lips to lips and wham orgasm time. Now, I keep my lips pressed together so the teeth don’t pop out and do the kissing. Hard work. I have a lip fetish. If a man has those kind of lips that are like an upside down C, those smiley face lips, I’m out. I’m shallow.
I apply deep crimson lipstick and a smoosh of gloss on the bottom lip, enough to look salaciously wet.
I’m dressing to go to dinner at a faculty party where I teach writing to men and women over sixty. My mini stereo is paying Snoop Dog music. I love Snoop. I love rap. In my dreams I sing backup with two beautiful African American women. I move where my hips don’t hurt, and my lips shape the words like I’m blowing bubbles.
Next I blow the hair which my daughters say for my age is “too long and not appropriate. Fuck age appropriate! The only thing that’s appropriate is how I feel about myself. Still in therapy over the hair. Shoulder length, it’s mostly dark, with tons of silver streaks which I do myself with a cheapo L’Oreal kit. The last time I went to Jose this fancy schmancy stylist Nancy Feldman raved about, Jose fucked me up; one side of my hair was purple, the other streaks orange. “So now,” he repeated, with a spit. Poor thing couldn’t talk without spitting.
I slide on the black net stockings, slip into my red leather Joan Crawford Ankle strap platform shoes, and wobbling a second, I slip on my long sleeve black dress with the openings on the shoulders, and last, dangly silver earrings. I’m ready.
My lips look pretty good and I paid extra for the matte, and guaranteed the lipstick wouldn’t smear.
I arrive by taxi to this hot nightclub in North Beach. I love North Beach, the sounds of church bells, sirens, and life. I love the Italian community and all the small cafes outside where people sit slurping up pasta. Some cranky face kid stamps my hand and I enter the dark club. I get nervous going to parties alone and into crowds. I’m not supposed to drink because years ago I was diagnosed with diverticulitis and you can’t have it but I make a beeline for the bar, realizing that this is a no-host. All I have is my over-extended credit card, but luckily I have a twenty. This too-loud band is playing old songs. I order a vodka shot. “Chilled, three green olives.” I stand there a second gulping my drink, taking in the scene. All these professor colleagues who are either just out of grad school, or near 100, are doing the twist to John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever. The vodka hit me so I get another. I’m feeling no pain, swaying to the music from The God Father when this man comes up to me. I don’t recognize him from the university. “Leo, Leo Keller.” He extends a thin age spotted hand.
I say. “You’re in the Chemistry Department. I’ve seen your name. “ I pause. “Your wife taught short story.”
“Dead,” he says.
“Oh I’ve taught The Dead, too. I love James Joyce.”
“The wife is dead if that’s what you want to know.”
“Oh I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. She was a bitch.”
So I’m guzzling my second shot, noticing this bastard’s lips. Wouldn’t you know? He has these great full slightly red lips. When he talks his teeth are way back in his mouth and barely show. His eyes are so pale color I wonder if he’s blind. His hair is also pale silver and receded. He has a rather large pointed nose, but he’s tall and lanky. Anyway, we rap the breeze about how horrible the faculty is. At least he’s tenured, I complain, ranting that by the time I got my MFA and teaching credentials I was almost fifty. “You know, I ‘m from the Jewish Princess generation where women were supposed to be provided for by their husbands. So they wouldn’t tenure me. I teach, but no tenure.”
He shakes his glass so the ice rattles, as if evaluating if he wants to talk longer. I’d say he’s about seventy-ish.
So we slow dance and I mean slow. He lifts his legs high than presses his flat feet on the floor and slightly sways. Careful not to lean too forward; I have this awful habit of leaning forward. “You smell good,” he whispers into my ear as the music stops.
I nod. As soon as they say you smell good, it means one thing.
The rest of the night I greet my colleagues, kiss assing so I can keep the few classes I have. I’m seated near the kitchen where the losers are seated. I pick at the lousy overdone chicken and lumpy mashed potatoes aware that Leo is at the head table. We’d exchanged cards. His card was fancy schmancy, my card simply has my name and email and cell phone and my design of a tiny rose, the flower, my maiden name.
It’s near dawn. I’m in Leo’s bed. A humongous portrait of his ugly wife hangs above his bed on this platform, which you could kill yourself getting into the bed. Anyway, one thing led to another and at 80 what am I saving it for? Surprisingly, the dude has a great fit body and he gets right to it. Thank God, no foreplay, no nothing, just does it and before I can say what time is it it’s over. Almost immediately, he aims this giant remote to his giant plasma TV. Nothing is on but the repeated news about egghead Trump and he lies there like he’s catatonic. So is he an over nighter or am I out the door. Does it matter? I want to go home to my own bed and figure out everything.
“Do you want a glass of water or anything?”
“You mean you’re going to scramble up some eggs like they do in the movies and we’ll do it again?”
He yawns. “I have a big day.”
“Tomorrow, I do too. I’m going to taxi it home.”
Hardly before I’m dressed he’s snoring. I rush out of his book lined flat to the waiting taxi and all the way my eyes following the moon I realize that I’m still dreaming of that mad passionate Rhett Butler love. Is there such a thing? Is it too late?
Barbara Rose Brooker is an author of many novels. These pieces are part of her book on of snippets , essays, and stories. Her recent novel and TV appearances and podcasts are on www.barbararosebrooker.com