I’ve never been very good at the business of being a proper girl.
Let’s take the example of hair. When I go to the hairdresser’s, my first words are invariably: “under no circumstances do ANYTHING to me that will require some sort of styling or – god forbid – blow drying. I’m incapable of blow drying my hair. No. Really. I can’t do it. At all.” Memories of my late teens, when I foolishly attempted to carry off a shortish bob, still haunt me. One side curled under, while the other kicked outwards with a stubborn willfulness. Congenitally unable to do anything with a curling brush and hair-dryer which would remedy this sorry situation, I had to resign myself to only looking halfway decent on the days when I managed to bribe my younger sister to do the honours.
Needless to say I shiver in anticipation of the day when Tadpole will beg me to put her hair in plaits, or even demand pigtails which are not of hopelessly different sizes. I’d rather not imagine how I will respond when she asks me how to apply nail polish without liberally smearing it on her cuticles (I can only manage nearly nude colours without mishap), how to wield an eye liner pencil, or how to tweeze her eyebrows into symmetrical submission. None of these things seem to be programmed into my DNA. I’m starting to wonder if my X chromosomes aren’t a little bit, well, wonky.
But over the last couple of days I have truly excelled myself.
It all began when I purchased a dress for the soirée I’m attending at the weekend. Said dress involves displaying my white legs, including the attractive array of bruises (of uncertain origin) on my left calf. Or maybe it all began when I reluctantly agreed to receive a trial free subscription of Elle magazine and idly skimmed through an article in which self-tanning products were proclaimed to be so much improved these days that only a fool could apply them badly.
I think you can see where I might be going with this, no?
After a careful exfoliation session using an abrasive mitt I bought under duress in the Marrakech souk, I decided to apply the self-tanning lotion to my legs only. My arms seem to be a tone darker anyway, and conscious of my limitations – despite whatever claims of foolproofness Elle were advancing – I wasn’t about to start on my torso, even if the dress is strappy and exposes a fair bit of back and shoulder and skims my cleavage. I washed my hands carefully afterwards, even scrubbing my fingers with a nail brush. Then, dressed only in my bathrobe, I busied myself making Tadpole’s dinner, pottering about my apartment and waiting for my dinner guest/babysitter to arrive, periodically surveying my legs and finding their colour unchanged (despite the claim on the tube that results would be seen after only one hour).
At some point in the early hours of the morning while I was dancing to Tiga in a dimly lit nightclub and vehemently regretting my choice of footwear – the only pair of high heeled sandals I have ever possessed, which I can just about manage to walk in, although flights of stairs can be problematic – the product must have worked its magic. Magic which I didn’t notice until this morning due to a combination of vodka and tonic and poor lighting conditions.
Verdict: amazingly my legs look okay! Not a streak in sight, only a slightly darker tone around the knee area, but not so as you’d notice. However I am now the proud owner of a pair of streaky, mismatched, dirty-looking feet with an odd albino patch in the middle of my right foot. This is not catastrophic, as I have learnt from the previous night’s mistake and will not be wearing strappy, foot-exposing sandals to my soirée.
It is in the bath, vigorously scrubbing my feet with my exfoliating mitt (to no avail), that I notice a strange patch on one side of my stomach. I frown, wondering how on earth the lotion could possibly have transferred itself onto my belly. Onto just one side of my belly. But it is when I spy the triangular patches on the undersides of my forearms that I begin to howl.
Replaying my movements the previous night, try as I might, I cannot for the life of me remember sitting with my arms wrapped around my knees before the lotion dried. Nor can I work out how a small amount of said lotion managed to find its way onto my left breast.
This afternoon, having made the unwise decision to apply more of the offending autobronzant to my arms, in the hope that this would somehow dissimulate the offending triangles, I am feeling not a little apprehensive, and wondering whether it might not be wise to go into hiding for a few days.