"Don’t make my eyebrows too thin. And I want a darker shade of lipstick."
Laura stood behind me with her hands cupping my face. She lifted my hair up and gently let it down, expecting it to somehow sit better under her scrutiny. She was disappointed.
"You’re not Audrey Hepburn. Thin eyebrows it is." she said it gently, as if explaining an indoctrinated concept to a child. She didn’t care about my protests because she knew, like all women before us, I would finally have to follow the rules of beauty. I still tried.
"But they’ll be hidden behind my glasses."
She laughed in the same tone she used before, to counter naivete. She lifted up my hair again for one last miraculous try.
"Don’t be silly. You’ll wear contacts."
"But they’re my Alex Vause glasses!" I was shocked at my whining.
"Listen to me…" she was becoming impatient. " No one even knows who he is. Even the salesman didn’t know! I let you buy the glasses because you promised you wouldn’t wear them."
"It’s a ‘she’!"
Laura rolled her eyes as I frantically googled Orange Is The New Black.
She walked to my closet and inspected it with disdain.
"There are too many T-shirts in here. And all of them crew necks. Eugh." Her disgust grew when she made the mistake of sniffing one. She held each T-shirt up with just two fingers and flung them away. "Boys like girls who look pretty. Minimal makeup never hurt anyone. Sure, waxing hurts, but…" She stared at the pile of clothes, and back at the empty closet. "Where’s the dress?!"
I looked up from my phone. I hadn’t prepared for this. “What dress?” The guilt in my voice was evident. I shot a look at the garbage bin. There were a few remains still left.
"The pink dress with the flowers we bought last week. You even wore it."
I looked her in the eyes. There was no cushioning this. “I burnt it.”
Laura’s expressions went from confusion, to horror and back to confusion again. I waited until it settled on anger and she could speak again. She didn’t.
"It… It was the night I got dumped! I was upset. I had to do something!" My hands were raised, begging her to understand. It was my money, my dress, my humiliation, and yet she was the one who needed comforting.
"So… what? You’ll wear a prison jumpsuit to your date?!" She finally saw the search results. It wasn’t helping.
We stood looking at each other, a void of unfamiliarity between us.
"I’m sorry." I said, not meaning it. It was what she wanted to hear. After an hour of antagonism, it’s the least I could give her.
"Why can’t you just try to fit in? You’re always making things difficult for yourself, with your deranged goth look, and those ideas about loving women…" she shuddered.
"It’s noir, and the other is feminism."
"See?! Why can’t you just talk about normal stuff?"
"Like what?! RomCom movies? Ryan Gosling’s baby? Justin Beiber?"
"Please, leave Beiber to the tweens." I could always count on her to ignore my sarcasm and use it as a weapon against me.
"These are things I believe in. Why shouldn’t the guy I date like them, too? What is so outrageous about that concept?"
She laughed. “For that you need to find someone to date. The way you’re going, that seems unlikely.”
"So, what? You’re here to give me a ‘social makeover’? Is that what this friendship is about?" As I said it, the truth in my words became evident. She had singled me out, taken me shopping, set me up on dates, taught me how to shave my pubes. I had assumed she just wanted a sidekick to make her look better, and that I could ride her popularity to get noticed. But reality was far more acidic. I was a pawn in her game while all this while I assumed she was one in mine.
She was unapologetic. “I just wanted to help.”
"Frankly, my dear…"
"Ugh, damn you!"
And she never came back. Not even to get her good tweezers.