Award-winning author and all-around delightful person Catriona McPherson is our Guest Chick today, and we’re thrilled to have her. Take it away, Catriona!
Catriona: I’ve always loved giving my heroines jobs. One was a picker for an online grocery-service (doing other people’s shopping – a nosey-parker’s dream come true). One worked at a free clothing project for a church. Oh the glamour! One got a job cleaning caravans (= US trailers) at the seaside.
But the heroine of HOUSE.TREE.PERSON. has my favourite fictitious job yet. She’s a beauty therapist in a psychiatric hospital, helping people with activities of daily living (aka ADLs) in the area of personal grooming and self-care.
Or she should be. An excess of empathy leads her to more make-overs and massages than she really has time for. Why not, eh? Why not give a fictional catatonic woman a pedicure? Why not give a fictional girl with histrionic personality disorder a better hair-do? The real world is stuffed to its scalp with unsolvable problems. It’s nice to be able to fix a few things in fiction.
But how – you ask – did I do the research?
And the answer is that I’ve been researching this book for decades: valiantly sitting in vibrating armchairs while someone rubs my feet with hot stones; selflessly lying on warmed beds while someone dyes my eyebrows and lashes; leafing industriously through People magazine for two hours at a stretch while my “born blonde but a lot has happened since” hair is cooking. Not to mention aroma-therapeutic facials, herbal back massages, individual false lash applications, make-up sessions before big parties and . . . two bikini waxes.
One bikini wax happened because I had no comprehension of how painful it was. The second one happened because I had blocked out how painful it was. When I looked down and saw the hot wax glinting in my gusset, I remembered. If there had been any other way to remove the stuff, I’d have paid double to make it happen. There wasn’t. My third bikini wax won’t be necessary. When hell freezes over, who’ll be wearing a thong?
Not that I’d say I’m high-maintenance. I go bare-faced and cactus-legged about my business if I feel like it. Gone are the days when women got up at five to make themselves fake before breakfast and rushed home to make themselves even faker before dinner, all on the quiet, in case Mr Right jumped and dropped his pipe at the sight of a pale lip or a greasy follicle.
Much more recently gone are the days when women could pretend that any of this grooming and fakery was a chore. The internet has busted our story wide-open. We are blown out of the water, the petal-floating, lavender scented, salt-ionized bowl of warm water in which our digits were soaking.
We love it! And not just love the results. We love the daft names for pointless stuff, and the plinky-plonky music; we love the reverent attention to miniscule minutiae and the dead slow pace. The whole process is the last word in soothing. Going to the beautician’s is just really lazy yoga.
And here’s how the bust happened. Dastardly Youtube is the culprit. Over the last couple of years, Youtube has exploded with videos of . . . wait for it . . . spa role-plays. That’s right: videos of between five and fifty (yes, really) minutes’ length where a Youtuber acts out eyelash dying, back massage, haircuts and even waxing to the viewer, who gets the attention, plinky-plonky music, daft names for unnecessary products and pretty much the whole shebang. Except dyed lashes, a relaxed back, good hair or shiny waxed bits.
Google it if you don’t believe me. “Warm Spring Make-up” is a thirty-seven minute make-over video by a Youtube star named “Latte”: mesmerisingly beautiful, with the voice of an angel and – if you’re asking me – barking mad.
She also does eye tests, ear cleaning, wound-care and hair-styling. But she’s strangely compelling in her absolute sincerity. And she’s not alone.
I think I’ll stick with actual treatments at real-life salons and spas. But, like I said, I’m busted! How about you – do you kinda sorta quite like the “chore” of beauty? I know for a fact now it’s not just me.
Catriona McPherson is the multi-award-winning and best-selling author of the Dandy Gilver detective series, set in the 1930s in her native Scotland. HOUSE.TREE.PERSON (Midnight Ink, US, 8th Sept) is her sixth contemporary stand-alone suspense novel. Catriona is a past-president of Sisters in Crime and is next year’s Malice Toastmaster. She will be groomed to within an inch of her life!