Jill Alexander Essbaum
Beauty is currency, Kitten. That’s the first thing you tell them, your clients, when they sit before you, bare-faced and eager to be rouged and glossed and tarted up. You wanna be a diamond or a dirty penny? There’s just one answer. This lady’s going to a party. That girl’s got a prom. And every weekend, brides. They always have a look in mind. A vision. Fixed. Immutable. If you say frosted eyes are déclassé, they tell you to fuck off, demand them anyway. Listen, Kitten. You are firm. No goddam way I let a dirty penny walk her aisle. How scary you are when you’re stern! And they need it, they know. They always come around. But they never sit still. They point in all directions, dictate orders, scream at bridesmaids. You snap your fingers in their face (because you can) and point them to your chair. You slip them Xanax when their mothers look away. You top off diet cokes with rum. You’re so damn good at what you do. They recommend you to their friends who want the contours and the pouty mouths as well. You quote a big, fat price. It gives you bargain room. They haggle and you let them so they leave convinced they got the better deal. Here, Kitty, Kitty. Come here. The women say they come for dye jobs, cuts. But that’s not really what you sell. Your merchandise is confidence. You preen backbones and take out their trash. You can make anything beautiful. You’re practically God. Sometimes they call sobbing. Momma died, they bawl and mewl. Open casket. Will you? Please? Of course you will. I’ll do her right, you say. She won’t meet her angels with thin brows. For funerals there is no charge. A kindness, true, but calculated. Slick. To lure them back. They do come back. The daughters all come back. Oh how they love you! All your little kitties purr and paw. You could so bag them up and drown them in a river. If you wanted to.
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