She takes no notice of me as I stand there and watch the routine in front of the mirror. It's as if I'm not even there.
My mother is dressed in her White Tower Restaurant uniform, ready for work. She wears the uniform like a Marine in his dress uniform. Her outfit is so starched that touching her dress is like touching cardboard. If you run your fingers along the uniform you can hear a scratchy sound. She has an angry look on her face, the same one all the time.
On her bureau is a line of lipstick tubes lined up like my brother's toy soldiers, all in a perfect row saluting her. Their reflection in the mirror makes it seem like there's more tubes than she really has.
She is almost perfectly dressed, except on this day you could see a scorch mark on the otherwise pristine red and white polka dot uniform she had just ironed. I am too scared to tell her. She would only yell at me.
She bends over looking closely in the mirror and outlines her lips with the lipstick tube. It doesn't matter which one she chooses. They are all the same. Fire Engine Red.
She outlines her lips with the lipstick like I trace comic book figures. Always staying in the line, never going outside of the line.
I don't tell her but sometimes the lipstick is so thick, her lips look like a clown's. Sometimes she even leaves for work with lipstick on her teeth. My mother doesn't like to be told things. So I keep silent.
Next, she takes a kleenex out of the box on her bureau and puts the tissue in between her lips and blots her lips by smacking them together. It makes a sound like you would call a puppy. She puts the tissue down on the bureau and I see the outline of her lips. It's like those wax lips at Halloween. Perfect.
I hate this. She can kiss a tissue, but she won't kiss me.
I suppose I could put lipstick on if I really wanted to. God knows I've watched her long enough.
But I never have.