Tuesday, July 6, 2010

#10: in the market for a beach house.

Your hand lifts an ivory tube with barely off-ivory writing delineating a Swedish name that you wouldn't dare try and pronounce. You see its reflection in the bathroom mirror and the back of it looks the same. In fact, all of these bottles look the same. They're all tubes and gels and washes and pastes and creams and cremes (is there a difference?).

But then, her head peeks around the corner and you see that glowing face that looks more like scripture than it does eyes/ears/mouth/nose. And before you roll your eyes at your own dogmatic metaphor, you realize how much truth there is to such a comparison. There's a purity there, spreading across invisible pores, glowing from fluorescent skin and frightening away the dark things in the world with each blink of those eyes that remain otherwise indescribable.

"What are you looking at?" she asks.

"What does this one do?"

She squints, utilizing what little light it actually present. "That's an exfoliator."

"So it, what, gets rid of the dead skin?"


You put down that bottle and pick up another one that looks like it's full of lemon custard. "What about this one?"

She smiles and reveals the top row of a toothy grin that works better as a nightlight than anything Ikea had to offer when the two of you went last week.

Yeah. You're those people now. You're Ikea People.

"That's a pore cleanser." She looks to the row of varied containers laid out like gravestones between the mirror and the sink. "Pretty self-explanatory."

"Right." You put it down and pick up another, looking at the label for any relevant information. You're trying to do your own work on this one. And that's something to be respected.

"That one," she says, preempting your feeble attempts with a knowing sigh, "is an astringent."

"So it, what...astringes? Is that the verb?"

"You put it on after you wash your face. It dries out your face so you can exfoliate faster."

You jut a finger to the bookending tube, the tallest and most traditional-looking thing you can see.

"That's a moisturizer."

"Couldn't you just not use the astringent and then you wouldn't need the moisturizer? Seems like one step forward, one step back, at, what--" you look for and find a price on the label-- "fifteen bucks a bottle."

"You want this," she says, drawing a facetious hand across the length of her face like you had just decided to buy a vowel, "you have to use these."

"Well worth it, you ask me." You slide arms around waist and close the gap.

It's been, what, a whole month--a whole month?--and the two of you have spent more nights together than apart, but every time you find yourself this close to her, you're caught off guard by her warmth. And not the warmth that emboldened you to ask her out, either: but she's warm. She has a high temperature and it's like holding an electric blanket that God shaped into a person and filled with something sweet, the romantic version of the bad guy from The Nightmare Before Christmas with all the bugs.

But no bugs. Just nice things. Nice things like a row dermatological products and bobby pins littered across the counter like a countdown paper chain and your toothbrush/razor/deodorant all gathered together in a coffee mug that's still being a wallflower, still too intimidated to integrate with the other bathroom sink kids, despite its near-daily use.

"You're just biased," she says, tilting her head enough degrees for you to know that she's asking for you to kiss her. "I'm just too nice for you to not think I'm pretty."

"Yeah, but you are pretty," you say before pausing to kiss her left cheek, "and the way you flinch when you say 'pretty' gives it away." And now the right cheek.

"Don't get all armchair psychologist with me." She re-smiles and you kiss her bared, freshly-brushed teeth.

She smells like spearmint and tastes like an iceberg and when she pulls you in, when she wraps her arms around your neck like a life preserver, she presses her lips to your ear.

And you swear to God that when she smiles, you can hear the ocean.

1 comment:

Claire Valene Bagley said...


I wish boys would hear bells when I talk and the ocean when I smile.

They probably do. They're just tooooo dumb to say it.