Friday, May 28, 2004

...the more things seem the same...

I had occasion to be stuck in rush hour traffic this morning and I had this eerie sense of déjà vu. Except for the fact that we were all driving on the other side of the road, it was a creepily familiar scenario, right down to the woman in the car right beside me who was paying more attention to applying her lipstick in the rear view mirror than to the traffic.

What is it with that? Are women universally incapable of completely dressing and grooming themselves before going out the door in the morning? I thought it was just the legendarily rushed and harried American career woman/supermom who didn’t have time to tweeze her eyebrows or shave her legs before leaving for work, and so felt compelled to do so enroute to work, treating the rest of the drivers to an intimate view of her morning toilette. Ladies, don’t you think this is carrying the concept of “multi-tasking” a bit too far? What if you poke yourself in the eye with a mascara wand at 80 kph? What if one of those dimwitted guinea hens scampers out of the vlei and runs into the road in front of your car while you are concentrating on your lip liner? And can you REALLY make yourself look truly pulled-together in that miniscule mirror under ever-changing (and inadequate) lighting conditions?

Maybe I am somehow handicapped and just don’t realize it. It takes two lights, a BIG mirror and a small magnifying mirror, and both hands to make my face look its normal subtly painted self. What if I am putting on my moisturizer and find a rough patch of skin that needs immediate exfoliating? How do you do that in the car, with one hand on the wheel and one eye on the road? It requires me to get up from the dressing table, ambulate to the bathroom, locate cotton puffs and the exfoliant, application of said exfoliant to the cotton puff and said cotton puff to the face, eventual removal of the product, then a close inspection to make sure the offending flakes are gone. I cannot imagine myself trying to do this while piloting a two-ton, four-wheeled machine of impending death down a crowded freeway…do those women just plaster the rough patch over with an extra glop of foundation and hope no one notices the rough skin rising to the surface like scales sloughing off a dead fish?

My maid and I were in Checkers yesterday and espied a woman coming towards us in the aisle. After she passed, we were both just too speechless to do anything more than stare at each other, slack-jawed and wide eyed. Maybe her bizarre appearance had something to do with putting her make up on in the car, so she couldn’t tell she was using a blue pencil on her brows due to the unreliable light? Maybe the tiny size of the mirror prevented her from seeing the uneven shape…zig-zag, actually…that the brow pencil made as she hit a speed bump too fast, not having seen the warning sign as her eyes were on the mirror rather than the road? I’m not sure how to explain that her majorly frizzed out hair was white at the temples and brick red everywhere else…mebbe it was an in-transit dye job gone bad? Blobbed-on garish lipstick and clown rouge…you see what you get when the steering wheel is between you and the mirror?

This grooming behind the wheel seems to be a peculiarly female trait…I’ve never seen a guy even combing his hair at 80kph, let alone spritzing it with gel and styling it…or shaving!! But I have seen women rocketing down the roads at freeway speed , yanking rollers out their hair, fluffing and combing, even filling the car with clouds of hairspray! And putting on eyeliner and mascara using the rearview mirror! I’ve even seen women painting their nails while driving! I see men chatting on cell phones, eating and drinking…but doing their morning grooming routines that requires eyes on the mirror rather than the road or render their hands incapable of gripping the wheel and quickly steering around an unexpected obstacle in the roadway…like a suicidal pedestrian? Never!

Is there any country in the world where the roads are so safe that you do not imperil yourself and others with this kind of behaviour? With the reputation that Americans have as being arrogant and self-serving, on some level I guess I somehow thought that this degree of self-absorption was limited to American roads and women, but I see that it has been exported to…and adopted enthusiastically…by the women in at least one other country. What is the cause of this? Can these people truly believe that an extra fifteen minutes of sleep…the amount of time necessary to paint on the morning face and drag a comb through the hair…is worth endangering one’s life, as well as the lives of others? And if those few minutes of sleep are so precious, why not retire fifteen minutes earlier, rise fifteen minutes earlier, and enjoy the luxuries of adequate lighting, expansive mirror, and being able to actually focus on the task at hand?

I dunno…I’ve been a woman for a lotta years, and have worn make up for most of them, and this is one almost exclusively female trait that I simply cannot fathom. Put down that mascara wand, lady, and pay attention to your driving! Give that two-year-old in the back seat a chance to grow up!