By Barbara J. Eikmeier
Not long ago while watching the news my husband said, “That
lady must have something in her eye, look how she’s blinking.”
I watched for a few seconds, noticing her beautiful eye makeup
and said, “Nah, she’s doing that because she’s wearing fake eyelashes.”
I recognized the rapid blinking from my own eyelash
experience. It was while recording an
instructional quilting series in Golden, CO. The on-site stylist
asked, “How do you want your makeup? Natural?”
It was a quilting program. The camera was going to be on my
hands more than my face, but I was sitting on a tall black director chair with
movie star lighting framing the mirror. The stylist’s big box of foundation,
eye shadow and lipstick overflowed onto the counter. I wanted it all.
The stylist told me her normal job – pre-Covid, was doing hair
and makeup for the Denver news station. I sat up straighter. I was in the hands
of a pro. As she talked, I saw her pull out a tray of eyelashes. Surprised I
asked, “You’re giving me fake eyelashes?” She smiled and said “Of course I am –
just like the ladies on the news!”
She glued them in place. My eyes watered. I blinked. And
blinked. I couldn’t stop. She moved on to my hair but I saw her watching my tears.
Now my nose was running. I sniffled. She handed me a tissue and said, “Blot,
don’t wipe.” She promised me I’d be used
to them before filming started.
By the time she spritzed me with 12-hour hair spray my eyes
had stopped watering. I went into the studio. The young sound tech hooked me up
to a wireless mic. He said, “Say something.” I said, “How do you like my
eyelashes?” I wanted him to say I looked like a star. Instead, he hesitated
then said, “They probably feel like a bigger deal to you then they look to me,
but they’re nice.”
I turned to Camera A. The camera man, wearing a headset, had
heard the exchange. He grinned and said, “He’s right, but you look good.” I
looked at Camera B. A different camera man gave me a thumbs up. I shrugged and
said, “Okay then, let’s quilt” and I started to forget about my fake eyelashes.
I wore fake eyelashes every day that week. I loved them but
by evening my eyelids were drooping from the weight. I reluctantly peeled them
off. They looked like spider legs in my hand. My eyes watered. I blinked. I
went to bed. The next day I woke to find my eyelids crusted together, as if I’d
been weeping while I slept.
As I watched the woman on the screen I thought about my
protagonist. Would she like fake eyelashes? I could write about her eyes watering, her
nose dripping, and show her blotting, not wiping, her cheeks flushed with the embarrassment
of having someone watch her blink back tears.
In my head I heard her say: “Be realistic! I live on a farm in
Kansas!” So no, she isn’t getting fake
eyelashes but using my real life experience I think I can show some pretty
Barbara J. Eikmeier is a quilter, writer, student of quilt
history, and lover of small-town America. Raised on a dairy farm in California,
she enjoys placing her characters in rural communities.