Earth-girl in New York

I’m in New York and loving it. Quite a contrast from last time I visited,

a fortnight after having returned from Antarctia the first time, constantly

getting rushed at by honking cars while staring at the rooftops and fire escapes

of tall tenement buildings. I went to the New York Public Library to escape

the mayhem but even there became overwhelmed by the books. No, today I’m

loving it and have had a most amusing morning.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m here for my brother’s

wedding. Folk are flying in from around the world: UK, Germany, Egypt, California,

Sweden, Argentina… descending on the city for what promises to be a great

party. And as warrants for such an occasion, the hype is picking up. Now, any

follower of this website should have realized that though I adore my brother

and everything, well almost everything, about him, we are very different creatures.

I don’t like shopping, I don’t know the correct names and locations

of any countries in South America, or any continent for that matter, can’t

argue politics, culture, current affairs or money with any conviction and certainly

wouldn’t know the difference between cool and kitsch. However if he and

Michelle are going to have a party, no amount of sea ice could keep me away.

So, first I got my hair cut, that was a novelty but I survived and no-one,

not a soul, noticed. (Why do folk pay good money to look exactly the same?)

And then I bought a dress, and some shoes. Pink shoes no less. And today I went

to get my legs waxed. My ‘beautician’ was a polish gem and rather

than gawk at my furry legs we spent most of the session talking about how ridiculous

the hair-free culture in the US is. I still can’t believe that her 15

year-old daughter, or anyone for that matter, shaves her arms.

Next stop? The spa directed me to Bloomingdales to buy some make-up. Now I’m

not sure how you’re supposed to decide between the various desks piled

high with powders and lacquers but after circling the floor once I somehow ended

up in a chair in the Mac booth, being done. There were three worryingly beautiful

people working at this stall: one doll-like girl, one heavily made-up queen

and my gentleman artist with finely curled lashes for whom I was the palette.

We begun with foundation, he did half my face first and then the whole thing

to show me the difference. I looked like me but blander. Then he put concealer

on and I looked like me but blander and paler. And then he put cream blusher

on and I looked more like me again. Finally he put glycerine all over my freshly

blushed cheeks and I looked exactly like me at a party. Once it was all done

he covered me in invisible powder (the point?) and told me to beware of the

subway as the air there is so filthy. I didn’t think it appropriate to

mention that Felix and I were intending on taking the F-train to his wedding.

Next came the eyes. Inside light, outside dark. Make the dark bits lighter

with this one. Make the sticky out bits lighter. Edges dark again, “like

an apple”. Right, that helps. Then a middle colour at the top and a dark

one at the edges and underneath and then a pencil right in my eyes so they watered

and looked bloodshot but I later realized that was the desired effect. “Smokey”.

And then the lips. This was my favourite bit.

“You usually use yongblast?”




“Do you usually use long-lasting lipstick?”

“Um, I think I’ve worn lipstick 5 times in my life”


And he gave me some lipgloss stuff that apparrantly lasts 7 hours as long

as I don’t eat chicken wings. I’m going to test it all day today.

The crème de la crème came at the end with lash curling and mascara.

This took ages, I have no idea why and when he showed me the mirror I burst

out laughing as I looked the spit of Aunt Sally. The whole thing took him twenty

minutes but he confidently said I should, with practice, be able to get my morning

make-up routine down to seven though evenings would obviously still require

half an hour. I was having such fun by this time that I bought 80% of the products

and he gave me his phone number. I still don’t understand.

As I was leaving I asked if it would be very cheeky to come back on Saturday

for him to repeat the activity for real. He replied in all sincerity, “what’s

cheeky?” adding, “ I heard a Brit once call his friend a cheeky

bastard but didn’t know what it meant.”

I walked home with my pre-pubescent legs and drag-queen lashes laughing to

myself. I did feel beautiful but, contrary to the aim of the exercise, it had

nothing to do with the external applications and all to do with its ridiculousness.

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5 Responses to Earth-girl in New York

  1. I was at least halfway through this piece when I thought, “Hang on, this can’t really be Felix writing this” – and it wasn’t. Damn!

    I think under the security of this blog I can get away with wishing your brother Felix (whom I don’t at all know outside of the pages of Memefirst) all the best on the old nuptial front. Normally I am quite nasty in my comments there but of course I don’t mean it for a minute.

  2. Steve Salmon says:

    Very much enjoyed reading your posting, Rhian! I’m just so sorry that Rita & I won’t be with you all to celebrate the great event today.. Woke up v. early this morning with it very much on my mind.. REALLY hope you’re keeping very well, that you all have a truly brilliant wedding celebration today & that we’ll see you again sometime soon. Lots of love to you all, as always, Stephen/Steve/whatever

  3. Jim says:

    Hi Rhian!

    Now I know why you were visiting YorkU!

    I was not keeping up on the blog and look what I was missing. Very Best Wishes to Felix and his beloved.

    I loved your “make-over” adventures in NYC. You should go on TLCs “What not to Wear” it would be a riot!

    Thanks for always looking at the fun side of life and sharing those moments with us all.

  4. Franklin says:

    That was beautifully written. What talent in your family! All the best for the wedding.

  5. Marsya says:

    Looks a lot like the work of Cornel Windlin’s Tate Magazines, and even uses the fonts of the Vitra Home Catalog designed by Laurenz Brunner, Cornel Windlin and Elisabeth Prescott!

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