Let’s Find Your Shade – Memory Monday

beauty-counterI wanted to try on make up.

During the summers, having two working parents meant 5 days a week at Grandma’s, whose house was basically a gigantic fort through my 7-year-old eyes. My days were filled with puzzles, card games, polka music, opera, musical theatre, organ music, playing with dogs, movies, and lemonade. To me, Disney wasn’t the happiest place on earth. It was there, at my Grandmothers house.

One day, my sister was away at a soccer camp, leaving just me and my cousin Nancy at my Grandma’s.

“I’ve got to run some errands”, my Grandma said, “so let’s get our shoes on and go on an adventure.”

On the highway, maybe 10 minutes outside of my home town, there are these small ponds. I used to call them the Finger Lakes (when in reality, the actual finger lakes were not very far away either).  Being the nerds that we were, Nancy and I loved when my Grandma would take us on a ride to go by them.

“If you both behave, we’ll go by the finger lakes on the way home!” She had told us. Immediately my cousin and I knew she meant business.

After stopping at both Reids – the grocery store, and CVS, we pulled into the mall parking lot.

“Grandma needs to grab some things, but you both can look around if you’d like”, she told us.

Being 7 years old, a department store was considered the ultimate Hide-And-Seek territory. Racks full of clothes offered the most opportune place to hide without anyone finding you. Catching my cousins eye, I quickly knew that this would be the game of our lives. As we stepping into the store, Grandma told us where she was going to be and that we were allowed to look around too as long as she could still see us.

Gearing up to begin our game, Nancy was easily distracted by the bright displays of the Makeup counter. A saleswoman noticed us nearby and asked my cousin if she wanted to try on some makeup. Thinking that my Grandma would have no objection, she immediately said yes and sat down in one of their chairs. I must have looked disappointed that I wasn’t asked too, as the saleswoman pulled up another chair next to my cousin for me.

I was amazed by all of the colors one could apply to their face – to me, makeup was for theatre, movies, and Halloween. I knew that if I wanted to be a famous actor that I would have to know how to use make up.

“Could you help me with makeup too?” I asked the saleswoman.

Caught off guard, she giggled and said “Sure, let’s find your shade”.

Ten minutes later, my Grandma was leading my cousin and I out of the store and having me wipe my face off on a towel she had in the back seat of her station wagon. I didn’t realize anything was wrong until we drove directly to her house without driving by our Finger Lakes.

Years after this happened, I spoke about this with my Grandmother. I had never told her about my sexuality or any of guys I had dated. Bringing up this memory, I asked her if she had been upset I had tried on makeup.

In true Grandma style, she responded with: “At the time, I didn’t think it was right for a little boy to wear makeup. But knowing how much I love you… I think I was jealous that you were prettier than me”.

Halloween when I was 6 or 7. I was serious about method acting.

Halloween when I was 6 or 7. I was serious about method acting.


32 thoughts on “Let’s Find Your Shade – Memory Monday

    • haha seriously! If I was that saleswoman I would’ve been a bit apprehensive about applying makeup to a 7 year old boy, but whatever. It sure created a fantastic memory!

    • They really were! I feel like childhood memories of summers always trump adult summer memories. That’s how it is so far for me at least haha.

    • It was right before I was heading off to college too, so it was one of the last things I ever talked to her about. Even though it wasn’t something that I needed a ton of closure from, it was a great memory to bring up one more time and she sure did give me closure with such a great response!

    • I. Know. I was pretty upset she drove past them too. That’s probably why I remember this memory so clearly, because I didn’t understand what I had done for her to not let us see them. At least she had a great response in the end!

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  2. I always loved going to my grandparent’s house. I wonder if my grandchildren will feel the same way. My first is just 4 month’s old and lives on the opposite coast, so there won’t be many opportunities for visits.

    • I’m sure they will. I spent minimal time at my other Grandparents houses but I can clearly remember many, many memories. I’m sure that when your grandchildren visit that the time will be very special for both of you!

  3. Just last night my 2yo son asked my 4yo daughter to share her new birthday make up with him. He was wearing blue eye shadow and crazy rouge. I thought he looked so cute. I loved this post for reminding me of my grandma and my son and how I want to do right by him.

    • That’s incredible. I remember reading news articles about how this father’s son wanted to wear a dress, so he wore a dress with him. I thought it was amazing because he was letting his son really discover who he was, instead of trying to tell him who to be. I love that you let your son play with your daughters make up – i’m sure he looked so cute!

    • It was paradise! After she passed away, I tried to convince my father to keep her house and just rent it out until I was old enough to buy it for myself. Such great memories in that house!

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  5. You, Jake, are seriously awesome! I love that you were who you are even at so young an age. That you spoke with your Grandma about the ‘incident’ so many years later, and that she resolved it so beautifully, is one of them most heart warming things I’ve ever heard.
    Well written, young man! Loved it.

  6. I love her response to you and I love people who just let their kids (and grandkids) be exactly who they are. It is such a special thing and, unfortunately, more rare than it should be.

  7. Oh, your grandmother’s response was perfect.

    My son met me at the door at daycare wearing a Cinderella dress more than once. He was pretty darn cute in it, too!

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