While I have done my share of shampooing, massaging and the occasional emergency painting of toes, there are just certain lines a straight man doesn’t cross.  Make-up is one of them.  

I remember once, years ago, standing in my bathroom doorway transfixed by an exes application of the “smoky eye” technique.  Watching her trace and layer as I studied her all but standing on her toes, I saw that she had become her own canvas, a face of her own design. 

It made me think of a bedtime moment I had with my Pops when he showed me the image of an Egyptian woman applying makeup to her face. 

“Who would want a girl with all of that stuff on her face?” I asked, at ten (or maybe 11).

“Someone you’ll want to marry,” Pop laughed.  

The words might as well have come from Obi Wan himself. 

It was this morning, while in mid-rant about Gwen Stefani, that I Youtubed my favorite clip of hers, No Doubt’s “Underneath it All”.  My favorite images comes in the final minute or so when she lays in bed before the camera, completely make-up free, proving that her pale blonde beauty can stand alone, free of all the accessories.

In more recent times it’s become a rite of passage to watch women put on their armor.  The most fluid of them become different characters with each day or week.  Others have the same process memorized: the same eyeshadow, blush and lipstick finished off with a splash of a fragrance suiting sense of self.  

It is these characters that seduce us men everywhere from the water cooler to lunchtime bistro to the bar at the local discotech (aka “The Club” for those of you in this century).

There’s nothing better than those arresting moments when woman as woman makes her entrance, the sway of her outward assets moving at varied speeds and swings, depending upon intent.  The right heels, the right dress, the right scent left on cheek and neck after even the most innocent embrace, and it’s easy to see why the dudes that have it give it up like there’s a gun in their face. 

Those moments are great for beginnings, for the song’s intro.  But what gets me across the bridge is what lies underneath.  Can she break you down in sweatpants and an an office tee, free of face paint?  Does the erection feel just the same at 4am when she’s got crust in her eyes and breath that reeks of the garlic and ginger combo you served up six hours before? 

She can work it.  But does she live it?  She can wear it.  But can she strip it?  What matters to me is what it look like when it call comes off, when she’s standing at the threshold twenty years after her “perfect” and making me want it more than any vixen in bikini and g-string.  

It’s in you all.  Have you lost it? Can you find it? Do you even know it’s there?  If you don’t, then we don’t.  Peel back your layers and take a look in between.  What do you think?