Puttin’ on the Ritz

Puttin' on the Ritz (film)Today I stopped at the Walmart and as I was exiting my car, I noticed a couple from my church. I rushed up to say hello and the man said:

Oh! I didn’t think that was you. I’ve never seen you when your hair didn’t look perfect before.

Needless to say, this was not the glowing recommendation you would like to hear; however, believe me when I say my hair does not always look perfect and today it did not look any less perfect than any other day. I would like to believe that the man had me confused with some other person: one who has perfect hair. Either that or he is developing Alzheimer’s, which now that I think of it, someone told me he is.

Anyway, this discussion of beauty and perfection made me think of Mother and her search for the perfect product. She never seemed to have the money for anything my sister or I needed for school, but she always had money for the Avon lady whenever she came ding-donging her way into our house. My mother also had the funds to go to an expensive department store and sashay her way to the Charles of the Ritz counter.

Charles of the Ritz was a company founded on the idea of “individual beauty.” Their counter was filled with large clear cylinders of various colored powders. The consultant would look at your face and then mix up a special powder just for you. My mother was constantly plunking down the money to have her own special powder created. Then home she would come with the special powder and a great big powder puff. It actually was a pretty good idea for her to disguise herself with the magic powder and she usually topped it off with some red lipstick and a generous spray of “Midnight,” her favorite perfume.

My sister and I were absolutely forbidden to touch the perfume, the lipstick and, most especially, the Charles of the Ritz powder. I couldn’t wait for my mother to go over to Marge’s for a rousing game of drunken Scrabble so that I could try on the beautiful powder. My sister and I had great clouds of powder rising up over our heads. When my mother returned and saw the mess we had made, she would start her ranting and raving in which the main theme seemed to be:

I can’t ever have anything nice with you two around.

As a child, I made plans to have my own container of Charles of the Ritz face powder, but alas, they went out of business before I had either the maturity or the funds to invest in their product.

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