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By Kate Heidel
We've all read the nuptial experts strategies to keep your marriage going strong: communication, romantic dinners, wife swapping, etc. All tried and true, we admit, but none of them holds a candle to the undernoticed yet highly potent little tube of lipstick. You may not realize it, but every time you dial up one of those darlings you're unleashing special powers, not to mention the dyed and compressed donations of the sometimes endangered but always fashion-savvy whale.
We asked our married readers to send us their most memorable lipstick-hubby moments. Although hundreds of responses were worthy of a mention, we chose only the ones we considered inspiring enough to serve as a potential marriage saver. And, in the case of our first reader testimonial, a life saver!
Mrs. Sue Ann McIntyre, 32, of Portland, Oregon, was having a doozy of a time getting the pink plastic wrap around her in-the-buff torso before husband Jay came home from work on a Friday evening last fall.
"So much of the wrap had stuck to itself instead of me," recalls Sue Ann, "that by the time I finally wrapped enough of it around my body, Jay was already walking through the door. I completely forgot to apply my lipstick."
Apparently the sight of a pale-lipped, shrink-wrapped Sue Ann was enough to trigger Jay's expert CPR training. Before she could yell "I'm trying to seduce you!" Jay was compressing Sue Ann's lungs and forcing air into her mouth.
"I almost died," writes Sue Ann.
"From now on, it's lipstick first, plastic wrap second."
Twenty-seven-year-old Lanie Bishop of Chula Vista, California, had recently suspected her husband, John, of having an affair with a sultry coworker Lanie had met briefly at John's company Christmas party.
"What was I to do?" Lanie writes us. "I'm petite; she's tall and sensuous. I'm a perky blonde; she's an olive-skinned, long-haired brunette."
Lanie gathered up all the nerve in her slim, 5'2" frame and "asked that slut to lunch with me." John's coworker, whose identity we'll protect by calling her "Jane the Slut," would admit to no impropriety, but did suggest that her lipstick color drove men wild.
After considerable prodding, sweetened by "more compliments than I feel it's right for one woman to give another woman, especially a slut like that," Lanie secured the name of the lipstick that had cast a spell on her unsuspecting husband.
"That very night, I wore the lipstick ["Slut of My Heart"] at the dinner table. John has never looked at me the same since. Now I wear it day and night." Lanie reports that her pillowcases are "a mess," but adds, "I've got my husband back!"
Cheryl Riduccio, a 37-year-old remarried newlywed from Denver, Colorado, claims "complete bliss" in her second marriage, and attributes most of her marital success to "an old, forgotten tube of my mother's lipstick."
"I didn't think lipstick could stay good for decades," writes Cheryl. But her late mother, Ethel, had carefully packed the tube of "Passion Fruit 429e" deep in the recesses of her bridal hope chest "probably sometime in the 50s" Cheryl surmises, "by the look of the packaging."
"Mom's lipstick gives off the strangest glow. It's a little warm on my lips, too. When I wear it, I feel all woozy. My new husband, Michael, takes that as his cue for love."
Cheryl wishes she could thank her mother personally, "but then I wouldn't have 'Passion Fruit,' so maybe I should count my blessings." Neither can she inquire of her father, who sadly passed away many years ago "from a highly classified nuclear mishap of some kind."
Cheryl is writing "to every single cosmetic company there is" in the hopes of convincing one of them to store their lipstick in lead tubes, the unique packaging for "Passion Fruit." "Maybe that's why it's still good," writes Cheryl.
Our final liptstick testimonial comes to us from Jill Anderson, 30, of Bloomington, Indiana. Jill, we soon discovered, is not one to waste words-with ink or lipstick. We'll let Jill explain:
"I tell my husband, Arnold, what I want and when I want it by writing out a nightly note on the bathroom mirror in lipstick. Every morning my instructions await him, and he knows better than to ignore me."
Apparently Arnold adores the clearcut communications "penned" by his masterful life partner. Arnold buys dozens of tubes of "Ruby Dominance" every month, because as Jill laments, "it's an ongoing battle to make Arnold fully understand what I require. He can be very naughty at times."
But isn't lipstick on the mirror quite a chore to clean up every day? Maybe so, but, Jill assures us, "Arnold gets a special treat for being such a good houseboy." Yummy, a treat!
Stay tuned for another revealing selection of reader responses, coming soon. We think you'll be both surprised and informed by what married women confided when we posed a question on the minds of so many couples today:
"Pickle Relish in the Modern Marriage:
Condiment or Home Wrecker?"
© 2005 Kate Heidel
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Heidel is a freelance writer living in Minneapolis. Her work includes humor essays and poetry, and her articles have appeared in "Rochester Magazine" and "Simply Minnesota."