When they were young children, it was a fun activity my daughters Nikki and Brenna thoroughly enjoyed. My wife, Susie, would let them play grown-up with extra make-up she no longer used.
Lipstick, eye shadow, foundation, nail polish and mascara were among the assorted left-overs Susie gladly donated to Nikki and Brenna’s make-up kit.
The usual targets for their make-up game were their unsuspecting and totally trusting 2-year-old twin brothers, Sean and Aaron. Now grown adults, Nikki and Brenna often reminisce and laugh at the make-up and fashion liberties they took with their defenseless brothers. All Sean and Aaron can do now when these stories come up is shake their collective heads and sigh.
The four of them would disappear into the girls' bedroom for about an hour. The Madonna cassette blaring loudly through their bedroom door and their shared laughter and giggles were always the prelude that a new fashion show would soon appear in our living room. Susie and I never knew what to expect.
Although they had Barbie dolls, Nikki and Brenna were perfectly content with using Sean and Aaron as their real-life Ken — and sometimes Barbie. We do have pictures of these fashion shows, but I must protect the professional image and successful careers of my now-adult sons.
Nikki and Brenna would have the broadest smiles and gleam with pride as they displayed their brothers with hair clips, scrunchies, bandanas, mother’s shoes and assorted other Madonna-like apparel in total make-up.
And finally, I submitted to my daughters' constant request to transform me into whatever make-up image they had visualized for their willing dad. I must admit, I enjoyed the relaxing Saturday afternoons with me lying on our living room floor with Nikki and Brenna doting over me. I have never been to a spa or had a facial, but I completely embrace the concept that unfortunately is predominantly enjoyed mostly by women.
And my daughters took complete advantage of their semi-comatose dad, who was often well into his the fifth stage of rem sleep during the make-over. My daughters never let me see what I looked like until they were done. I, too, had hair clips, excessive lipstick and eye make-up. And my nails were always done. I am able to share this family secret because I am totally comfortable in my macho-self.
There were a few times our family make-up secret filtered out beyond our home. To the great delight of my daughters and Susie, company would show up unannounced and they forced me to answer the door in full iridescent peacock plumage make-up with mismatched nails. Oh the fun Nikki, Brenna and Susie had watching me try to explain the unexplainable to our perplexed visitors. And I am sure this all seemed natural and normal to my sons.
My daughters love to recount, as often as they can, the day I was late for a presentation at a community event. I was one of the speakers. Susie woke me up on the living room floor after a father-daughter make-up session. I was late for the presentation and needed to quickly wipe my face of all evidence of any daughter cosmetic artistry. I quickly cleaned up and realized I still had nail polish on.
“Where is the nail polish remover?” I pleaded. To this day, I don’t believe it true, but Susie said they had just run out. There was none in the house.
So off I went to the presentation knowing at some point I would be shaking hands and standing in front of several hundred people unable to keep my hands in my pocket. Raised eyebrows were the only hint that anyone noticed the fashion risk my daughters had taken with my colorful nails.
What brought back these memories? My 10-year-old granddaughter, Ms. Haley, reluctantly did my nails last week. I know she didn’t understand why I asked her. When she reads this column, I hope she understands the great memories the simple act of doing nails brought for her old grandpa.
Thank you, Ms. Haley. Will you please do my nails again like your Aunt Nikki and Aunt Brenna used to do? Just make sure there is nail polish remover nearby.
Email contributing columnist Steve Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.