Back in the sixties wearing fake eyelashes was all the rage. My girlfriends and I would spend hours leafing through glossy magazines where the likes of Twiggy and Audrey Hepburn charmed us from behind those luscious glued-on lashes. We wanted to be like them, beautiful and mysterious…except…we didn’t know where to get the eyelashes.
The single profumeria in our small town—that’s what cosmetic stores are called in Italy–didn’t carry the product. We didn’t want to special order them in case word got out. We fully expected the townspeople (read boys) would believe we were naturally blessed with eyelashes that could knock them off their feet with one sweep.
Then we got lucky.
A friend of a friend who worked in London as an au pair was due home for a summer vacation. She agreed to buy the fake eyelashes, one set for each of us. Prices were discussed as well as color and style. You’d have thought we were investing in real estate. Plans were made, and then for what seemed like years–we waited.
We were beside ourselves, convinced we were about to become the most sophisticated beings the town had seen in decades. Finally the lashes arrived packed in pink boxes. Each box contained one set of lashes and a small tube of glue. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? It wasn’t
It took what I recall as grueling hours of practice to painstakingly apply the glue then position the lashes close to our natural ones while managing to keep from gluing our eyes shut. Eventually we figured it out
My friends and I planned to spring our new femme fatale personas on the local boys at the big dance under the stars. As the day of the event approached, we all went shopping for new dresses. Another of the important fashion magazines decreed that to find the ultimate dress, you had to try it on while wearing the same undergarments, shoes, makeup, and hairdo as you intended the day you were going to appear in the dress. Of course we all wanted the perfect dress so we went the full Monty, just as the magazine dictated, all the way to gluing on our fake lashes
We took the train to the city so we could shop in stores with real fitting rooms, not just a curtain and a cracked mirror. The three of us crammed into the miniscule dressing room and took turns trying on dresses. At one point I looked in the mirror and realized something was…off. My face looked…lopsided? OMG!! I was minus the fake lashes on one eye
My friends rushed to the mirror to make sure they still had theirs. Once that was confirmed we went over the dress I’d just tried on with a fine-tooth comb. Nothing. I crouched on the floor displacing dust bunnies…again, nothing. Panic was setting in
We ran to the saleslady who asked her boss. No one had seen my stray lashes.
Finally an older woman came over to see what all the commotion was about. We explained
“Oh, so that’s what it was,” she said
Finally a glimmer of hope. “You found it? Oh, bless you. Where is it?
She looked at me and readjusted her glasses on her nose. “I saw something on the floor in the bathroom.” I had used the bathroom. She shuddered and went on, “It looked like a big hairy bug so I stomped the ugly thing then flushed it down the toilet.”