May 17, 2001
The Bradley Test


Contrary to popular belief, the true test of a great waterproof mascara is not "Steel Magnolias."

It isn't riding your Schwinn directly into East Bay sunshine on Sunday morning. Nor is it affordability, or smoothness of application, or ease of removal ... or even waking up from a long, drooling Saturday afternoon nap without looking like Alice Cooper.

Nope. The true test of a great waterproof mascara, my friends ... is Bradley. 

If your waterproof mascara can pass The Bradley Test, it can last through anything.

Trust me on this one.

I think it's safe to say that I've spent more money, in the past three or four weeks, on waterproof mascaras  --  and on waterproof mascara removers, and on *companion* waterproof eyeliners/eye shadows/eyebrow stuff  --  than I've spent on all other cosmetics in the last year, put together. It all started when I mentioned, a couple of weeks back, that I needed a mascara that doesn't melt all over my sunglasses when we're bike-riding. (Also that it might be a good idea to start comparison shopping now, well in advance of the wedding ... which is going to be the *Boo Hoo Moment* to end all *Boo Hoo Moments.*) Thirty-two of you wrote in to suggest specific mascaras for me to try  ...  eight different brands in all  ...  and so far I've managed to test-drive seven of them. (I still haven't tried the Lancôme. Apparently they don't sell cosmetics with snooty French circumflex symbols in the brand name, here in *We're Still Trying to Figure Out Zip Codes* Alameda. And for another thing, it looks like I might have to take out a BANK LOAN in order to afford the stuff.)

I've been sort of underwhelmed by the results so far, frankly. Every single brand I've tried has either been so thick and sludgelike, going on, that it's like applying petroleum asphalt directly to my eyelashes ... or else so dry, even when brand-new, that I've questioned whether there was any actual mascara inside the tube. (Which makes me wonder if maybe this particular package has been sitting around on the drugstore shelf since the Reagan Administration. Perhaps product rotation is not a high priority at the Webster Street Walgreen's?)

Plus it's just sort of an all-around pain in the butt. It takes about three times longer than normal to apply the waterproof stuff in the mornings ... and about ten times longer than normal to sandblast it off at night.

I'll concede this much, though: so far, every single brand has stayed put while bike-riding. That's a good thing. And they've all done reasonably well during grocery shopping, and sex, and running errands on Saturday afternoon, and deep sea bass fishing. As of this week I'd narrowed the field down to one brand that could probably become a semi-permanent addition to Secra's Big Messy Cosmetic Basket.

But the big question still remained. Would it pass the Bradley Test?

Here's how you find out:

Show up for work on a Wednesday morning, feeling slightly more raggedy and drawn than usual, thanks to a crappy night's sleep and an unpleasant reaction to pickled tomatoes.  Make sure that you haven't had ANYcaffeine yet. Make sure, also, that you're having a Spectactularly Bad Hair Day ... that at least one of your shoes is rubbing against an oozing blister ... and that your ex-husband has called you five times in the past three days, wanting to "discuss" Daughter #2 (who, with three weeks and .25 credits left to go, is trying to blow off her high school graduation). Limp into your office with a lukewarm cup of Smart & Final Restaurante Blend and begin plowing through your In Box. Become quickly and deeply absorbed in the fascinating world of Offset Barrier Type-Y Crossings With Signalized Crosswalk Indicators, until Cathlene The New Receptionist knocks on your door, pulling the office handcart behind her. (Which, you can see, is loaded to the top with more of those Size #4 filing boxes.) When she sweetly asks you "Where would you like me to put Bradley's project files?," allow your annoyance to be clearly visible. You're tired of Bradley using *your* neat quiet little office as a repository for all of his goddamn fudking leftover project crap.

Stomp indignantly down the hall to Bradley's office, interrupting his Instant Message conversation with Mrs. Bradley, and politely ask him to verify that your office is, indeed, where he plans to store all of his goddamn fudking leftover project crap. (Except you might actually refer to it as "your project files" instead of "your goddamn fudking leftover project crap" ... at least, out loud.)

And then fight back tears when he reams you a new anal orifice in front of everybody.

I don't wear my heart on my sleeve, like normal women do. I wear it smack dab in the middle of my forehead, Cyclopslike, where everybody can see it ... and where everybody can take a poke at it occasionally, if they're so inclined. Plus my emotions run so close to the surface that you can actually see them, swimming just below my skin, sharing vein-space with my A-positive. ("Hiya, Secra! It's your old friends, 'Irrational Self-Directed Anger' and 'Unfounded Jealousy'! 'Inappropriately Vindictive Mirth' and 'Debilitating Fear of Success' are swimming right behind us!")  What this means is that it is impossible for me to hide my emotions -- any emotions, in virtually any situation -- because they are right there, throbbing in the middle of my forehead, or swimming just beneath my skin ...

... or running, in watery black streaks, down my cheeks.

After my toxic encounter with Bradley (who used my innocent question about storage as a springboard to rail against everything he doesn't like about the Totem Pole Company Admin Department in general -- and me in particular), I went downstairs and walked around the courtyard for fifteen minutes. This is a little cooling-down trick I learned during my Franz days, and even after two years it still works. I can weep and mutter and gnash my teeth in relative privacy ... or I can just sit there on the concrete bench and pretend to appreciate the ugly concrete fountain (whilst entertaining revenge fantasies in my head) ... but either way, it gives me a chance to dial down my frustration and figure out what to do next.

After a few minutes I was feeling sufficiently calm and collected and ready to head back upstairs to my office. But first I stopped off at the ladies room to blow my nose.  When I looked in the mirror, I had Super-Professional-All-Day Ultra-Lengths Lash by Lash ... 

...  on my forehead.

Someday I hope to be so cool and so professional and so impervious to sudden attacks from dicks like Bradley that I never ever cry at work. But in the meantime, I have just finished placing my order at the Lancôme Paris website.

My $28 tube of mascara should be here in 4-6 days.

one year ago: insomnia & excrement
two years ago: document *this*

throw a rock