I'm standing in front of the mirror, my hair clean and straight, my face naked and pale. I'm going out tonight, and even though it's only to have dinner at Mum and Dad's, I'm going to make an effort. I'm going to make myself up.
I'm out of practice and I have to remind myself where to start. Foundation. Always foundation. I reach for the small glass bottle and the fat matted brush, and I smear the thick beige liquid onto the bristles. I smear the thick beige liquid onto my face. I smear it until it blends in with my skin. I smear it until I think it's going to look okay. It's never going to be perfect.
I look at my reflection and it stares back at me blankly. It doesn't look impressed. I'm not impressed. There is no magic in my make up tonight. I sigh and as I turn away in search of mascara I remember...
I'm in the bathroom, trying to ignore the dirty sink. If I look at the sink I'll be in here for hours and I don't have hours. We've already wasted hours blazing up and smoking cigarettes and now Karl wants to hit the road and that means we have to go. I just want to put some make up on first. It will just take a minute. I look in the mirror and my eyes are wide and clear, my pupils round and black; I already look good and with just a little make up I'll look even better.
"Are you putting on make up?" Karl asks, and I tell him yes and he tells me not to. He tells me to stop. He says that we have to look poor so that people will feel sorry for us and give us money, but he's wrong. He's so wrong. If we're going out on the street late at night to sing for money, the girl needs to be looking good. The girl will be the one that gets the attention. The girl will be the one that gets the money.
"I'll just put on a tiny bit," I say. "No one will notice." I look at myself and I stare at myself and I notice. I really notice. I don't think Karl will though. He never looks at me properly anyway.
We're in Hamilton and we're standing in our usual spot and we're singing our usual songs. I'm carrying the tune. The girls walk past us and they look away, they giggle, they pretend we don't exist. The guys walk past us and they glance over and I smile and they stare. Some just stare and some just smile and some throw us money. Some throw me money. The make up always pays off.
Although one time I went barefoot and convinced a guy I didn't own shoes and he gave me $20, so...