Tres Cher!

by zara hemla :: the office (us) :: pg :: This story is all about lipgloss, and I mean, all about lipgloss.

Kelly is really and truly done crying over Ryan, and she knows it because she's gone to the MAC counter at Nordstrom and bought herself a new lipgloss, and she didn't think once about what Ryan would think when he saw her wearing it. It's a frosted purply-plum called "Tres Cher!" It sounds like something a model would wear in a Vogue photoshoot, striking a pose in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Kelly really really wishes she were in Paris, or on the Riviera, or maybe in LA or something. Somewhere glamorous. Scranton PA is not even D-list glamorous. But the assistant at the MAC counter had pursed his lips when he put it on her and then he'd said, "It's so you!" Maybe he was lying to make a sale, but it did show up beautifully. So whatever, Kelly had bought it. Tres cher!

No one at the office seems to notice the new color, though (not even Ryan, but she's NOT wondering what he's thinking). Kelly thinks maybe she should have bought a different color. She has several tubes in her purse that she changed her mind about but was too chicken to take back. She keeps thinking she should sell them on Ebay, but maybe people don't want to buy used lipgloss.

When she's bored, she surfs on the MAC website matching lipgloss colors to people's personalities. Pam would be "Heartfelt Pink," a boring color but it definitely says "kiss me, Jim, you big idiot." Meredith varies -- some days she's "Persist," and some days she's "Revealing." That makes Kelly giggle, looking around to see if anyone is watching her.

Phyllis is "For Keeps," because Kelly thinks one day Phyllis and Bob Vance will get married, and that means that Phyllis has figured out something that none of the other women in the office know. Kelly longs to ask her how she did it, but that would look awfully eager, and maybe like she (Kelly) wanted Bob Vance or something, and ew. No.

Jan is "Totally Boss," because dark red is a power color, and it says, "You could kiss me if you were brave enough, but we both know you're not." Kelly hasn't bought that color for that very reason. And Madge from downstairs, who comes up sometimes to do heavy lifting, is "Cultured," because Kelly doesn't know anything about her so she might be the kind of person who goes to operas in New York on the weekends. At least, Kelly likes to imagine it that way. Everyone, she thinks, should have a secret life.

The only person she can't pick a color for is Angela. Angela never wears any makeup, not even a smidge of gloss to nourish her lips (Cosmo says it's so important to nourish your lips so they'll be kissable when your guy makes his move). And so if she did, what would it be? Probably something boring like "C-Thru," which is so nude it's barely even there. Or clear? Would Angela even wear clear lipgloss? And if not, why not?

Sometimes Angela makes Kelly so mad, like when she comes over and shows Kelly the mistakes in her Excel sheet. "You need to put the equal sign before the parentheses," she'll say, or "All of these numbers need to be on Format Number with two decimal places instead of Format General." Like it matters if all the titles in column C are centered? That can't be all there is to life. Angela is older, more experienced -- why doesn't she know that?

* * *

She is supposed to be doing her expense reports on Friday afternoon but she's depressed because it's a sunny day and what could be worse on a sunny day than sitting in your cube? Her mom and dad had invited her up to Boston to see some relatives, but she told them she couldn't. She can't stand to sit there and answer questions about why she isn't married yet. So the house will be all hers this weekend and she can't think of one thing to do with it. It's too awkward to have people from work over -- what with the Pam and Jim and Roy thing, not to mention Michael -- and she has no other friends in town.

Probably she'll sit and watch another marathon on VH-1. Maybe "America's Top Model" is on this weekend. At least she can buy a couple boxes of Chips Ahoy without her mother commenting on her weight. And she can turn the TV up as loud as she wants. And not eat any Indian food. She is surfing idly, thinking about maybe going and renting some Johnny Depp movies from Blockbuster when someone clears their throat loudly behind her.

Kelly jumps and whirls around. It's Angela, of course, looking like an angel of doom.

"Kelly, I've been waiting for your expense reports for half an hour. What are you doing?" She leans forward as Kelly desperately tries to cover up the screen. "Are you ... looking at makeup colors?"

"Uh ... lipgloss," stammers Kelly, thoroughly unnerved. "Trying to find a new color for fall."

"Lipgloss?" Angela, oddly, turns her head to look back out into the office, and when she looks back at Kelly, the hard light is gone from her eyes. She looks ... she looks interested? Kelly feels a surge of wary relief waiting in the wings, and it starts flooding in when Angela uncrosses her arms, sits down next to her, and says, "Do you think I'd look good in lipgloss?"

Kelly suddenly finds herself smiling. It's a sunny day, and she gets to talk about makeup. "Well," she says, "of course you would. Every girl can use a little colorful appeal." She feels like she's a spokesperson for MAC, so she makes sure to tell Angela the little tidbit about keeping your lips nourished. Angela nods, as if she's storing the information away in a spreadsheet in her head. Then she says the magic words, pointing at the colors on the website.

"But which color would look good on me?"

"Hm," says Kelly, and she grabs her purse. "Oh, I wish I'd brought the rest from home ... I've got Crystal Rose, Mad Cap, and Oyster Girl." Angela rejects the first two, a bright pink and a brown, and picks up the Oyster Girl as if it's a vial of poison. Oyster Girl is very light pink and sparkly, and Kelly thinks it's maybe a little too young for Angela, but she's not going to argue about it.

"Want to try it?"

Angela looks undecided, and then she looks out at the office again. Kelly peers out there too, to see what's so darn interesting, but all she sees is Roy and Pam at reception, talking to each other quietly. But whatever Angela sees, it makes her say, "How do you put it on?"

"Let me," says Kelly. She uncaps the tube and cups Angela's chin in one hand. The she smooths it on, and Angela's lips suddenly go from looking mean and thin to ... sparkly. And pink. And kind of nice. She gets out her powder and opens the little mirror. "There you go," she says, and Angela looks at herself.

"I --" she says. "I don't know if this is right." Which strikes Kelly as a very odd thing to say. Does she mean, not the right color? Or does she mean that it's wrong to wear lipgloss?

"You'll get used to it." Kelly thinks of putting the tube back in her purse, but then changes her mind. It would just dry up and be useless anyway. "Keep it. Go ahead."

"Thanks," says Angela after a long pause of staring at herself. She leaves Kelly's cube, walking with her head down, like everyone's going to comment. But no one does. And Angela doesn't come in on Monday wearing lipgloss; in fact, Kelly never sees her wear it again. So maybe it's just drying up in Angela's sock drawer or something. But a week later, she comes in and sees something silver sticking out from under her keyboard. It's a Nordstrom's gift card for fifteen bucks, and the post-it note stuck onto it says, in Angela's distinctive handwriting, "Thank you."

Within ten minutes, Kelly's back on the MAC website, trying to figure out what new color to buy.

--the end--

authors note:

You can check out the MAC colors on MAC's Lipglass and Longwear lipcolor. For fun :D



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08.29.06