Lipstick, High Heels and Miles Davis

(Sophia Loren; almost as beautiful as my mother)

I loved to watch my mother get ready to go out at night. I would lay on the bed and watch the whole long routine; the beautiful slips and the elegant dresses.

My mother was a truly elegant and gorgeous woman. She moved with grace and poise and had a hold on any man in any room.

She would smoke a cigarette and drink scotch on the rocks as she got ready to go out with my father. Music was always playing in the background. Mommy had an early love of jazz and Miles Davis or Coltrane might be playing. She also kept up with new music; the Beatles and the Stones were background music to my childhood.

Mommy could wear the highest of heels and her lips were always the same color of Chanel red. She wears a similar color made by Chanel to this day.

As she was getting ready, I would rifle through her drawers of silken Vera scarves or her jewelery box. She was some glamorous creature when she had just enough scotch in her system. I loved these moments. She would talk to me as I watched her get ready.

The shoes were a key component to her wardrobe, perhaps the most important part.

My mother told me, “It is very important that you wear the right shoes. You must wear ‘Come Fuck Me’ shoes,” she would tell me, “Once you put them on, do NOT take them off. Once you have been dancing, if you take them off you will not get them back on again.”

I would watch as she sat at her vanity and begin putting on her make-up.

“The shoes are very important.”

She would take a drag on her cigarette,

“The second most important part of any woman’s look is lipstick. Never leave home without it. Red lipstick.”

I loved to be with my mother in these moments. She was a quiet woman who rarely said anything to us. I used that scotch to my advantage, my mother would talk to me when she was drinking and preoccupied.

I knew she wasnt really talking to me. She was talking to the daughter she wished she had. I had zero interest in make-up or high heels. I only wanted books. I could feel her disappointment.

Often she would say to me, “You are JUST like your father.”

She did not mean it as a compliment. I took it as one.

As beautiful and elegant as my mother was, I knew early on that I wanted to be more like Daddy. I was fine with that.

The ritual took some time and the end result was always fabulous. She was Gorgeous.

I would watch her turn in the full length mirror admiring herself.   She would turn up the music and Miles would blow loud in the house.

I knew our moment was over when it was time to refill her glass and the Goddess who was mother made her way to the kitchen to make another drink.

My father would arrive home from work. “Isn’t your mother the most beautiful woman in the world, girls?”

Yes. She was.

Last night I was out with my husband and our friends. I was wearing my “Come Fuck Me” shoes and I did not remove them all night. I stood on the rail above the stage at an Airbourne Toxic Event show. Diane and I could hang on the rail and dance at the same time with our husbands behind us.

I thought of my mother last night as I put on my lipstick and my heels. The shoes are the shoes I bought in a pinch to wear to my fathers wake. My mother in her shattered state loved them and they are gorgeous; Tahari, black, high enough to count. My mother loved the shoes I bought to wear to my fathers wake and I loved wearing them last night.

Diane and I danced all night and we are not as young as we used to be. I did not take off those gorgeous shoes and I loved the music climbing my legs. I felt like a gorgeous woman in lipstick and freedom.

My mother did not teach me much. She did teach me about the power of high heels and lipstick.

And the power of Music.

I leave the scotch be these days and I am not missing it. The Music is still The Music and the lyrics are actually Words. I don’t need scotch to see that.

Here is a video of  Airbourne Toxic Event. They are Tight, Smart and Talented.

I did not take my “Come Fuck Me” shoes off once.

My mama didn’t raise no dummy.



~ by Step On a Crack on October 10, 2011.

14 Responses to “Lipstick, High Heels and Miles Davis”

  1. Wow. Wow. Holy crap! I had no idea your mom was so stunning … and i love your “hillbilly” finale! Touche!!!! You ain’t no dummy, honey …

    I love your story of “one-drink” mom … the elegant, the “loosened”, the sexy, man-eater — who wanted a girly, girl. Screw that!

    Oh dear … and i GET IT … my mom was exactly the same way after ICE CREAM! Seriously … Mom could be so loving 30 minutes after a good meal — unless she ate too much. If she overate she went right into toxic mode, or immediately went to her bedroom to be alone. Click.

    Hey … momsy taught me some baaaaaaad habits … are you thinking what i’m thinking ?

    …. mom was blowing a little chow behind closed doors?

    Your writing rocks … it’s visual … flowing. It’s weird … i felt like a window was open and lace curtains were wafting around the room when i read your story.


    Love you, m


    • Mel, How funny how similar and how different our moms are. The road is the same though in so many ways. I am thinking what you are thinking. Yes I am. You really have to wonder.

      You and me Babe, That will be us soon at the vanity getting all dolled up to DANCE DANCE DANCE! This will be WAY different than our old dancing days and that ain’t because I have a new hip replacement. We are the New Improved US! Amazing. WE did it, Mel. We really really made it. It is a Graceful Miracle. Wait. It is that BUT we worked hard to get to this place. I love you mel!!!


  2. Funny. I spend my moments looking for you next entry… Brilliant again. And I was there the first time.


  3. Beautifully written! The music, the red, the heels… wonderful words, Jen. No fool, no siree. I enjoy your intelligent, provocative posts. They make me move beyond that into contemplation of the many ways our behavior affects family and friends. So many life lessons are learned through the eyes and ears.


  4. Gives me pause. So many life lessons are etched on our hearts by the past. What are we learning now? What are we teaching?

    The red, the heels, the music. Beautiful. Thank you for taking me back. Thank you for sharing your truth.


    • Very interesting point! When I was little if I could smell Chanel #5, I knew that Mommy would be going out; that also meant she would be hitting the bottle earlier.

      Recently my son said, “Do you and Dad have a date tonight?” I said, “Yes! How did you know that?” (he was headed to a sleepover, my plans were of little consequence in his mind)

      “You smell really nice. That’s how I know. ” I panicked. I wear Chanel #5.

      I had to step back and realize that, for my son, the smell of Chanel #5 means that his Mom and Dad love one another and take time to caretake our relationship.


      As an adult child of alcoholics, it is a constant battle: Am I breaking the cycle? Yes. Is my son safe? Yes. Does he KNOW he is loved? Yes!

      It is important, crucial, to live with intention in every moment.

      My son is a happy, well adjusted, kind young man. More importantly he knows he is loved and feels safe loving others.

      Cycle broken? One Day At A Time, Yes. Am I making mistakes? Yes. Sure I am, but they are not killing his spirit as we speak. That is the ultimate victory over alcoholism. I hope.

      Thank you for the very important and keen observation!


  5. A nice (and necessary) reminder that music is better than scotch because it will take you places without leaving you stranded, bruised and broken. Oh yeah, and i should never take off my “fuck me” shoes.

    Thank you so much for this beautifully written and intimate look into your childhood. You’ve given your mother back the beauty that she gave you.


    • It is remarkable isn’t it how little scotch is really needed?! NONE! Go figure. Took me a long time to figure that one out. I am usually a quick study; not with that one. Geesh. Sorry, I don’t know if men have CFM shoes. Converse, maybe?

      The mosh pit can still leave me Stranded, Bruised and Broken. Thing is, I rarely jump in now. Without the Demon Rum it just isn’t quite as appealing. Plus, I can’t find my steel toed CFM boots. No Mosh Pit without ’em right?

      Thank you so much for your ‘continued patronage’ (I LOVE that by the way) and your very kind words. If you EVER have a suggestion toss it in the old comment box; just make sure it is before Last Call. Ho. Ho. Ho. If we can’t laugh we gotta cry, right? I really appreciate your presence. thank you…


  6. Beautifully written post, Jen. I feel like I just met your Mom and get a bit of her already and little bit more of you.

    We were born without time
    Nameless in the arms
    Of a mother, a father, and God
    When the world would wait for us
    A thousand years in the crush
    Of our eyes, fearless, in awe
    So quietly, we’d fade into sleep
    With nothing on our mind(s)
    And then we long to be loved
    In the rush, we become
    Some things we thought we’d never be
    We were surprised by our heart
    Left weary and scarred
    By the nights spent feeling incomplete


    • Thank you, Thank you! I hope you know deep in your heart how much your support means.
      Aren’t those lyrics fantastic! The lead singer has an auto immune disease and has lost several good friends. His lyrics show his life experience. The talent of the musicians is remarkable. That band is not just a catchy tune bunch but a real Move With Words and Music group. I love them! Did you like the video?


  7. I loved it! Thanks for sharing it – and the background. My Mom always wore red lipstick, too. My dreams were full of after reading your blog. Funny how the subconscious works. I woke up missing her – but in a sweet way.


  8. […] Chanel #5 […]


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