The Edmond Sun


July 13, 2013

AS I SEE IT: Aunt Anna, all these years later, proven right

EDMOND — Aunt Anna would have been shocked by my new mug shot sitting dead center of last week’s column. Not in the paper you held in your hand, but in the colored version appearing in The Edmond Sun’s E-edition.

I hadn’t thought of Aunt Anna in ages ... wouldn’t be thinking of her now if The Sun’s courier had delivered the hand-held black-and-white version to my mailbox as usual. What a loss that would have been. Aunt Anna deserves remembering. She would have been shocked by the bright red gash that appeared where my mouth should have been in that photo. Even I was shocked when I saw it.  

Aunt Anna was Mom’s oldest sister, a good Mennonite woman married to a good Mennonite man who felt obliged to direct not only their own seven children but Mom and Dad’s two in the way they should go. Lipstick was not the way they should go.

I’m a seventh grader living with my family in Weatherford. Aunt Anna has driven over from Corn to buy groceries and now she’s in the kitchen chatting with Mom. It’s coming onto dark that late spring Saturday evening. I’m standing at my bedroom mirror applying Tangee lipstick to my 12-year-old lips when my aunt’s gasp and then her voice come to me from behind my left shoulder. She likely included scripture verses, but what I remember her saying is, “Lipstick is the work of the Devil!”

I looked at the tube I was holding in my hand and was puzzled. If you’re of my vintage, you know that Tangee is the equivalent of a training bra — barely pink but a step toward what’s yet to come. The Devil’s work? I couldn’t see it, but Aunt Anna was still sputtering.

“Cheap!” she barked. “When I was your age I rubbed red food coloring on my lips and I couldn’t wait to get home and scrub it off!”

Food coloring? I thought as I dabbed Blue Waltz perfume behind my ears. Hadn’t she once said she also felt cheap the time she rubbed vanilla extract behind her own ears? Well, of course, I thought as I fled the house that evening. Who wouldn’t?

I hurried on to lock arms with other Tangeed/Blue Waltzed pre-teens, to walk Main Street’s sidewalks from east to west and back again until the theater’s marquee lights came on, and all was right with my world.

My aunt was a good woman. I loved her as much as she would let me, which wasn’t enough to take her advice on what’s cheap and what’s not ... not until I caught sight of my mug shot in last Saturday’s E-edition issue of The Edmond Sun. Wherever you are, dear Aunt Anna, please know you were right.

MARJORIE ANDERSON is an Edmond resident.

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