I was selling and renewing newspaper subscriptions for The St. Petersburg Times, which was weird, because I lived in Tampa and we read the Tampa Tribune. I had never actually seen a copy of The St. Petersburg Times, but I sold the crap out of that newspaper.
There were six of us in a small, closet-sized, freezing cold, air-conditioned room, all sitting really close together and reading off of a script to convince potential subscribers why they needed this newspaper. We were all young, like high school to early twenties. Have you ever gotten one of those calls, and could tell the person was sitting in a room full of people, and in the middle of their spiel you heard them start to bust up laughing, and despite desperately trying to pull it together they just couldn’t and ended up hanging up on you? Yeah, that was us.
My permanent seat in the closet was next to a guy who I would end up becoming very close to. He drove an El Camino (rockin), his favorite band was Def Leppard (extra rockin), and he had the sweetest damn mullet I had ever seen. Soft and pretty, his hair glistened in the Florida sun, all shiny and smooth with soft curls in the back.
His name was Gary and he was soon to be my senior year homecoming date.
Gary was funny, and smart too – this was his last summer job before heading off to the University of Florida. He was a total butt rocker, which was a departure from my usual type of man. He was also crazy thin. I would always joke and say I didn’t want to date a guy that I could carry around on my back, and although I never tried it, I am damn sure I could have carried Gary on my back with no problem at all.
Besides being twice Gary’s size, I was also going through one of my really bad acne phases. My hormones and skin were going crazy and my face was just a painful mess. With homecoming on the horizon, I had to find something that could cover up the problem that was on my face.
I had an appointment with my hairdresser, who I loved, and he told me he had a friend who was a makeup artist that I could pay to do my makeup the day of the dance. He said he was the “best in the business” and that he had worked on some actual celebrities. I was sold and booked it, without meeting the guy or having a consultation. I saved $75 from my telemarketing money to get my makeup done for that special night. That was a lot of money back then for a teenage girl or anyone to pay to get her makeup done, so I figured this guy must be good. A real professional.
|Some of the best men in my life have been my hairdressers.|
I had an emerald green dress, black elbow length gloves, and super high heeled black shoes. I had a seamstress make four little green bows that matched the dress, two that went on the shoes, and two that went on the gloves. A classy way to tie the whole look together.
The day of the dance David, my hairdresser, did my hair, and boy did he ever do it. The bigger he made my hair the prettier I felt. After my hair was done, Tony the makeup guy started to work his magic. He was all in black, and dressed in a suit, which seemed oddly formal for being like 3:00 in the afternoon, and for the fact that he was just going to do a seventeen-year-old girls makeup. But it was impressive.
I was bare faced, which was devastating and humiliating for me. But Tony laid out a myriad of tools and began to get to work.
Tony worked with makeup the way other artists work with clay, or oil paints, using several little tools to individually cover the painful blemishes that were on my face. It was almost like he was a construction worker, since it felt like whatever he was using was the consistency of spackle or caulk, not makeup. He just kept piling it on - cover up, foundation, and powder until I felt like I had a couple of good inches of makeup on my face. I knew if I had an itch I was screwed, because if I scratched I would dig a hole in my face and I would look like a victim in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or one of those other horror movies that I loved.
After what felt like hours he was done, and wow, the result was…really dramatic.
I totally looked like a hooker.
I remember the look on my parents faces when I stepped into the house through the garage door, you know, when you get that really high pitched “OOOOOH” that in retrospect you know was not good.
The gang gathered at my family’s house and we took pictures before heading out for our big night. I remember Gary and I danced to three slow songs - “Always”, “Love Bites” and “I Will Always Love You”. And then all of us as a group went to an all night diner to eat, and then drove to Clearwater Bach and got a room at the good old Spyglass Motel for $51 bucks. (Again I ask, how was a group of teenagers, this time in all in formal wear, able to rent a motel room? Thank you Spyglass Motel.) I remember sleeping in my dress with its itchy-scratchy crinoline, and all of those layers and layers of makeup that were making my already bad skin a million times worse.
Gary went off to school and we stayed together for a while. There were a few trips back and forth to visit each other but alas, my butt rocker and I were not meant to be.
As with any of my teenage relationships, I was devastated when it ended and tried desperately to get over him. I quit the newspaper because the job reminded me too much of him. It wasn’t fun anymore. The closet seemed chillier than ever without him there.