They are playing the cutest song on Capital FM. It’s about a girl who doesn’t care if it rains, because she makes her own sunshine. As I stand in my bathroom admiring its shiny new fittings, I know how that girl feels.
The New Yorker is arriving tomorrow, and today Patti and Stacey treated me to a make-up lesson at MAC after work. The result of my hour in the chair was so impressive it seemed appropriate to celebrate at The White Horse. So we shared a bottle of Prosecco and a plate of chips. And another bottle of Prosecco. And a nightcap back at mine while Stacy sorted out my hair.
My face still looks fresh. Cosmetics have come a long way since I was young and we had to reapply our eyeliner every half-hour on a night out. Nowadays, make-up sticks. Even my eyebrows, which normally grow in multiple directions, have been ‘set’ with a transparent gel. The contouring, a mix of highlighters and dark shades applied to ‘strategic areas’, has knocked years off my face, and Patti is right: the eyelashes add an air of 1960s sophistication – the ideal match for the pink trench-coat that I am planning on wearing tomorrow. Even my hair is behaving thanks to Stacey’s late-night Elnett extravaganza. ‘I’ve added enough to keep the style, but the smell of chemicals will have evaporated by tomorrow evening,’ she said.
I am ready for my close-up.
How will I ever go to sleep in this elevated state?
Nothing a glass of port won’t solve.
Christ, I look good. Especially now that I’ve dimmed the new bathroom lights. Might just take a little selfie for my Instagram.
The only problem is that I’ll never be able to achieve the same result tomorrow, despite the make-up artist’s instructions and the £125’s worth of products now displayed below my bathroom mirror.
Oh, I wish I was picking him up tonight.
Eureka moment! If I sleep on my back, lying ever so still, there’s no reason why the make-up shouldn’t last throughout tomorrow. Then all I’ll have to do is dab selected areas with a damp tissue and top up the highlighter and lipstick.
The red digits on the clock radio stare at me from the bedside table.
This was not supposed to happen. I’ll ignore it and force myself to go back to sleep.
Hmm. A well-known feeling nags.
I didn’t text him. I know that. We’re good. Today’s our moment. He’s coming to the UK for Valentine’s Day, which is just a coincidence, I think. Either that or it’s extremely meaningful.
‘Everything happens for a reason,’ Patti said in the pub earlier, avoiding ridicule because Stacey had nipped to the loo and I was feeling too happy to insult her. So it’s not Patti-guilt that’s bothering me. And I never went near Amazon.
Did I post something on social media?
The image on my Instagram profile is a little dark but the make-up looks great. Whew!
I might just go and check how it’s holding up.
Well. The right eyelash-rack has moved. It’s still attached to the real lashes but is now hanging diagonally across the eye (so that’s what that weird shadow was). Kiss-proof lipstick remains in place, but the contouring has caked onto my left cheek, leaving the rest of my face a greyish tone. My hair is bendy, bags have appeared under my eyes and my nose looks larger than usual.
Tragic as it is, the makeover has to go.
I cleanse my skin and almost rip out my eye as I struggle with the lashes. Whoever thought it was a good idea to use glue around such a sensitive area as the eye? Why they hell do we do such things to ourselves? Both eyes are now red as well as swollen. An infection seems inevitable.
But I am determined to remain positive and make my own sunshine.
I jump into the shower, wash my hair, blow dry, make a camomile tea and cover my face in serum.
Now I shall go to bed and pray.
The shower and hair-drying has tricked my body into thinking it’s time to get up.
I grab the phone and turn on the anxiety podcast.
Damn. I’ve woken up because the woman with the velvet voice stopped talking. Why can’t I sleep like a normal person? Turn in at midnight. Wake up at seven.
I try to read myself to sleep and am confronted by fresh headlines about the coronavirus. Even the broadsheets have reached for fonts usually reserved for royal scandal or failed injunctions. There are additional, confirmed cases of disease. Additional deaths. I try to work out an approximate fatality rate, but it’s difficult. Most of the papers calculate it as deaths as percentage of currently known cases, but you don’t have to be a genius to see the flaws in that approach. We don’t know how many of the current sufferers will die. Nor how many cases are unaccounted for. Depending on method, I conclude that the death rate could be between 1 and 25%. Shit, shit.
And I’m going to Heathrow later. Are airports higher risk than, say, train stations? Or even M&S? I don’t think we know. Can I ask The New Yorker to meet me here at the house? It’s a high-risk strategy considering my intention to behave like a functioning human being this time around. Besides, he will have been through two airports. And close contact is imminent.
My night is ruined. There will be no beauty sleep. My eyes are still sore and itchy and I no longer relate to any singer who is stupid enough to think one can make one’s own sunshine.
Last night everything was so positive. Now, I look like crap, and there’s a real danger that I’ll develop an eye infection or catch coronavirus. Perhaps even both. If my body is already fighting a serious eye infection I may have reduced levels of T-cells when I’m exposed to the virus, increasing the likelihood that I’ll go blind. And I don’t even need the corona. You can die from ordinary flu if your immune system is already compromised, which mine will be due to the infection and blindness.
It’s damn cruel when I’ve only just met somebody I like and I’m forty. What was it all for?
Seriously, what was my life for?
Elizabeth Sand is a regular contributor to Funny Pearls. You can read the previous instalments of her serial here