Perpetual mascara

Modifié le : 2019/07/19

They call it mas­cara. Inspired by kohl, an extract of anti­mo­ny pow­der, the mod­ern prod­uct was first an amal­gam of coal and petro­le­um jel­ly, then chemists found sub­sti­tutes, pre­fer­ring wax­es, sol­vents, and poly­mers. In fact, it has become var­nished paint to length­en the fur of the eyes.

I often meet this lady on the sub­way plat­form. Not very tall, well dressed, although I would advise her to wear less fit­ted clothes. Stand­ing up, among oth­ers, she is busy in front of a pock­et mir­ror and a mas­cara stick. She brush­es a few eye­lash­es, observes the result, starts again. It seems to me to last for hours. It’s fas­ci­nat­ing, a real ant, or rather a cat that licks its hair rig­or­ous­ly. Once a result she seems to find sat­is­fac­to­ry, she screws the cap she was hold­ing in the same hand that sup­ports the mir­ror, puts the instru­ment in her bag and, to my great sur­prise, brings out anoth­er one, which looks thinner.

The mer­ry-go-round starts again at the size of his eye. To be hon­est, it stress­es me out to see her look­ing for a per­fec­tion that will prob­a­bly nev­er exist in her. I’m not say­ing she’s ugly, far from it. She may be unat­trac­tive and, as I said, too tight in her skirt and cler­i­cal gown. By her appear­ance, by her age, I tell myself that she is a work­er like we see so many in the offices, respond­ing very well to the naughty stereo­types that we have of admin­is­tra­tive assis­tants. A good per­son, dressed in mod­est clothes, a fad­ed lace as a col­lar, a bun with bare­ly con­cealed pins.

Now that the dou­ble mas­cara oper­a­tion is fin­ished on the right eye, she screws the cap back onto the brush pen­cil, puts it back in her bag and, per­haps not sur­pris­ing­ly, she takes out the first pen­cil to attack the oth­er eye.

There, the train is com­ing. That does­n’t mat­ter. The door opens, a dense mass of city dwellers flees to anoth­er line. The mas­cara lady finds a place and resumes her metic­u­lous and ner­vous work despite the jolts of the train that has start­ed. I’ve put myself a lit­tle behind so she can’t know I’m watch­ing her. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I have to leave, the lady con­tin­ues her work. The door clos­es behind me, I turn around to observe it one last time.

It is not uncom­mon to meet these women who, despite the vibra­tions, the tremors of pub­lic tran­sit, suc­ceed in blush­ing, in redraw­ing this line of red, this line around the eyes, this hue on this cheek. I can under­stand the con­cern they bring to them to rec­ti­fy and tame the geom­e­try of their faces, to obey scrupu­lous­ly the dik­tats of a cer­tain fash­ion. How­ev­er, I find it a lit­tle sad that they have to con­stant­ly rec­ti­fy the result. I know very well that not all of them are like that and that men also bend under the weight of oth­er con­straints. Aren’t I the first to study, in these same cars, the reflec­tion of my face ? It is impor­tant for me to know what I am announcing.

We are pea­cocks and yet we will claim the oppo­site. We have trans­posed our love parades, our desires to win, to con­vince (to deceive, mas­cara is an Ital­ian word mean­ing “mask”). We want to sur­vive. For some, this means giv­ing man­ic impor­tance to the length of their lash­es. For oth­ers, it will be to write about the first ones or to find the piece of cloth­ing that will make them unique, for the time of a thought.

It’s all emp­ty, all this. It seems use­less, just like those peo­ple who, stuck on their so-called smart­phones, ster­il­ize their souls and thoughts to move num­bers to reach the nir­vana of 2048 (is it real­ly the number?)

Our lit­tle bub­bles burst so eas­i­ly. We hur­ry to put our fin­ger back in the crack of the dam, and we are sur­prised to die already, too busy with the insignif­i­cant dis­trac­tions of our dai­ly life.

That’s what’s stress­ing me out about this lady. I would have liked to approach her, grab her face, look at her eyes and tell her that it’s okay that way, that she can relax. Obvi­ous­ly, it’s not done… and she would­n’t have believed me. Already that I would have vio­lat­ed her pri­va­cy that she would have hur­ried to take out her sticks again to erase the marks I could have made on the pow­dered film of her skin.

For my part, my dis­trac­tions are often sex­u­al. I see a hand­some man and want to get close to him so I can bet­ter observe the vein in his beard­ed neck. Seduce and die, no doubt. Mas­querad­ing his eyes as oth­ers were embalmed under the pyramids.

Eter­ni­ty is like the dev­il ; it creeps into the details.