Barbie Pink Wet N’ Wild Lipstick
Mama always used hot rollers and wore nylons that came up over her stomach to cover her stretch marks. She’d take the rollers out, flip her head upside down, shake out the curls, make a big pile of fried and bleached spaghetti—or maybe linguine, because the spirals were a little thicker than spaghetti. Then she’d put on the Barbie pink Wet N’ Wild lipstick, slip into her work clothes, and head to the Chinese restaurant down the street for her shift.
Her life was glamorous, even though she’d often have a black eye or two, and even once, a neck brace. When she’d send my brothers into the Pony Lounge to ask the bartender if our daddy was there, I’d think, how lucky am I to be on this adventure while all my friends are stuck in bed? One day, maybe I’ll get to go into that place and see what kind of ponies they got.
There were other places like that, too. Like when daddy was around sometimes and not ‘shooting dope’, as mama said on the telephone to Aunt Jo, he’d walk me down to West Coast Video for two-for-Tuesday. Snow White and Pocahontas for me. And for daddy? Well, he would head through the silver streamers that led to the back room, the one for grown ups only, and I’d think wow. One day, maybe I’ll get to go into that place and see what kind of movies they got.
So I’d put my hair in hot rollers and get my black tights that went with my Christmas dress and pull them up real high on my tummy. Then I’d sneak into mama’s bathroom, look in the mirror, slap myself in the face a few times, and run her Barbie pink Wet N’ Wild lipstick across my mouth. Because being her, even if sometimes she got black eyes or cried herself to sleep at night, was like being a movie star.
And then when she started drinking, she was Marilyn fucking Monroe.