I remember exactly where I came from, even though it was so many years ago. It was part of the chain stores in Spain called “El Corte Inglés” in the small city of Murcia. I had seen Her come in, drift by the stand where I was exhibited, take a disinterested glance at the fake jewelry display and then decidedly, as if suddenly remembering something she wanted, head for the make-up department. We were the only white eye-liner pencils there, of that I am sure. The buyer of the department had said that no one she knew used white eye-liner when my distributer insisted that my siblings and I be included in the order. We had been in the store for quite some time and it seemed as if the buyer had been right: not one of us –and we were thirteen- had been sold.
It was a while before She spotted us. I thought She was looking for something else, because She spent so much time picking up and putting back brown eye-brow pencils, blue eye-liners and even a tube of mascara, but then her hand stretched out and shuffling through the thirteen of us, gently pinched me between Her index finger and Her thumb and pulled me towards Her. I liked the feel of Her hands right away, She had long fingers and Her nails –well manicured- were painted a delicate pink. When She placed me on the counter, it was softly, and Her voice –asking the price- had somewhat of a melodious quality to it that made me tingle. At least it had that quality until they told her my price. Then it expressed surprise, almost irritation. She wanted to know why I was so expensive if I was just a pencil. The clerk shrugged her shoulders: white eye-liner pencils were scarce, she explained lamely.
She picked me up again and looked more closely, reading my name: “Ah, French” She mused, as if that explained the price. But, of course I was French! All self-respecting make-up is French, isn’t it? For a moment, I thought She was going to put me back. She turned me over and over between her fingers, stretched out Her arm as if to replace me on the rack, brought me closer to her face again, took my cap off and looked at my beautiful, immaculate white point, sighed and finally placed me on the counter: “I’ll take it” in a decided voice. What a relief. If only some people were conscious of what it feels like to be picked up, handled, examined and then rejected and placed back on the shelf, sometimes not even nicely or in the position that one had previously, sometimes even mixed in with something of another species or color. Very unsettling to say the least!
Anyway, that was when my journey began and that was over twelve years ago. My, my… what a life we have had together. I was in a drawer in Mexico City for quite some time, and in several travelling bags that went to New York and back, to San Francisco and back, to Madrid, Paris, London and back, until I was definitely packed into a suitcase and brought to Spain where I was originally bought, not Murcia, mind you, but Madrid, the big city. Here I spent some time in a small house (chalet, they are called) and then, when She divorced her second husband (9 months, mind you, after marrying him in a private ceremony in their garden in Mexico and, from what I understood, for the sole purpose of coming together to live in Madrid and not have to put up as much money as coming separately would have cost them), we moved into the apartment where we now live. I still travel a lot, Los Angeles in the spring and autumn, Mexico for Xmas and New Year’s, France during the summer, sometimes around Spain… This lady moves, believe me, and I move with Her.
Today I am just a stub of what I was then, but I have served faithfully for all these years and she continues to use me every day, well… perhaps except sometimes on Sundays when She doesn’t make up and just hangs around the house. Just today, She pulled me out of the drawer as She has done every morning (many different drawers over the years, depending on where we have travelled and where we have lived) for all these years and, as if noticing me for the first time since that day so many years ago in the store, exclaimed loudly, and I might add, proudly: “You certainly were worth the price I paid! After all these years you are still the best and I still use you. It won’t be long now before I have to replace you, but to think I judged you expensive. Goodness! Divided by all the years, you definitely have been worth your price” and then we did what we do every morning: allow Her hand to guide me to Her eyes and gently whiten the border of the lower lid, something I do so well with all this practice. As I said, I am self-respecting French make-up, worth my weight in gold.