5th April 2013 — Tales from the Clinic

Tales from the Clinic — 3

Madame Coquette’s lipstick is always meticulously applied.

Her eyebrows are boldly defined with black pencil. She dresses with care. She wears a little scarf – a different one each day – artfully tied, exactly matching a colour in her blouse or jacket. She is tall. Even using “cannes anglaises” (crutches) to support her new hip, she walks like General de Gaulle. There is always a twinkle in her one good eye. She is eighty years old.

I admire her lipstick. It lasts all day long. I never see her touch it up.

She puts her hand over her good right eye.

The left eye swivels to attention and looks straight at me.

She takes her hand away.

The left eye drifts away again.

If one doesn’t have good eyes, she says, when one has a squint, one has to draw attention to the mouth. You understand?

She laughs. She has a big hearty laugh. And a beautifully shaped mouth.

She buys her lipsticks in a little shop on the rue St Catherine. They are cheap lipsticks. You don’t have to spend money on lipstick, she says. She’s been using the lipsticks from the same shop for the last 30 years. Outline the mouth with a lip pencil, she instructs me. Apply lipstick. Blot lips. Apply lipstick again. Blot lips again. Add a different colour. Blot lips again. Et voila!