The other day I was at Gesine’s having a latte with my friend Rick and he mentioned he had had a long conversation with his mother the night before. I didn't know much about her, so I asked questions: what she had done in her life, what his relationship with her was like, who she was. As he spoke I imagined a well-coiffed, tailored, seventy-year-old retired school teacher who sent lavender scented thank you notes and organized her husband’s sock drawer.
He painted a comforting picture of his mother, a woman I imagined was a more traditional "Mom" than my own had been. Then as I took a bite of my pastry he added, “During our conversation last night my mother told me she was thinking of getting her lips tattooed.”
After I dislodged the small piece of carrot cake that I had nearly asphyxiated myself with in my shock, he quickly added, “Not with a design or anything. Just a color, like permanent lipstick, you know? Several of her friends have done it.” As I continued to stare at him, attempting to reconcile this bit of news with the image I had of his seventy-year-old mother and deciding if he was merely pulling my chain, Bonnie came out from behind the counter and walked towards our table.
“I’m sorry, I hope you don’t think I was eavesdropping, but I just have to ask about this lip tattoo thing.” She turned to Rick, “Are you serious? Your mother’s considering this?” Rick confirmed that it was indeed true. Bonnie was shocked too, but clearly fascinated. Finally she offered, “Well, it kind of makes sense. My mother was dying and on the way to the hospital she just had to apply new lipstick before arrival. Now that I think about it she wanted to freshen up her lipstick before her last angioplasty! I think it is a generational thing.” She smiled as she remembered her mother attempting to apply it evenly in the moving car.