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SoCal STYLE: Beauty : Lasting Impressions: Three Writers
Muse on the Mystique of Eyes, Lips and Hair

Like a SearchlightBy

September 14, 1997|Anne Beatts | Anne Beatts, a writer who won two Emmys for the original "Saturday Night Live," lives in Los Angeles. Her day job is in television

I spent my early childhood bluffing. My parents would point out something, say a bird on a tree, and I'd pretend I could see it. They didn't know I could barely see the tree, let alone the bird. * When I started school, tragedy struck in the form of glasses. My glasses ruined my life--my fantasy life. How could I pretend to be a Southern belle or a Union soldier trapped behind enemy lines in glasses? Never mind that, at age 8, I didn't remotely resemble a Southern belle or a Union soldier. My glasses rooted me in reality--not where I wanted to be.

My poetic soul yearned for eyes men could drown in, and if mine were covered by Coke-bottle lenses, how could men even jump in? Any woman of a certain age will remember whipping off her glasses as soon as a certain someone came into the room, or the cafeteria lunch line. This made for a lot of spilled milk.

Despite Dorothy Parker's dictum, some men did make passes at me. Maybe they thought I was smoldering when I was merely staring, trying to figure out who they were and if I knew them or not.

"You may see a stranger across a crowded room," as the song goes. Except my problem has always been seeing him--and seeing just how strange he is before it's too late. I've always loved the line describing Joan Crawford's pickup technique in "The Women": "She's got those eyes that run up and down a man like a searchlight." I'm not sure how to do that, but I'd love to try.

One of my best girlfriends, quite the social butterfly herself, tells me the way to meet men is to make eye contact. "Pick someone out at a party. Keep looking into his eyes. If he doesn't look away, he's hooked."

This hasn't worked for me because keeping my eyes wide open too long makes my contact lenses itch. Yes, I have contacts now, and they may be the miracle of modern science I'm most grateful for. At first, I reveled in tinted lenses. I'd have blue or green eyes on different days of the week. Or I'd wear a different color in each eye for a David Bowie look. For a while, I had violet eyes of a color not found in nature, except on Elizabeth Taylor. After a friend told me I looked like the alien children in the old movie "Village of the Damned," I reverted to my natural hazel. Now I limit my creativity to eye makeup, another area where David Bowie makes a great role model.

I'm surprised that more men haven't taken to wearing eye makeup since it does wonders for the morale. There's nothing like slathering on the mascara before an important meeting. And spending five minutes doing nothing except carefully applying eye shadow so that it looks "natural" can calm and focus the mind as well as any meditation technique. If the eyes are the windows of the soul, then makeup is the window treatment of the soul. And who wants bare windows?

For me, acquiring a new shade of eye shadow rivals the back-to-school thrill of opening that giant box of Crayolas for the first time. Fooling around with the new fall colors on your eyelids is even more fun because there's no teacher to warn you not to color over the lines.

Then there are those mornings when I put on my makeup in the car, in the rear-view mirror. This is a subject not covered in traffic school, though perhaps it should be. It's not hard to apply makeup in the car once you get the knack, but it makes male drivers crazy. I drive a convertible, which renders me particularly vulnerable to their wrath. I tell myself it's just Venus envy.


Makeup: Gianaolo Ceciliato/Judy Casey, New York City; Model: Michele Rozmarin/Elite, New York City-L.A.

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