My mother took forever getting dressed to go out. At home, she was content to live in a slinky nightie, and a full face of makeup, but going out required hair, nails, the whole bit. It didn't matter where she was headed, until the 60's happened she wouldn't go to the corner store without gloves, and a hat. I think she always resented the 60's-it meant more time at the beauty shop getting a roller set.
The beauty shop, Shear Genius was her Friday destination-that way her set would look good at the weekend. Making that set last a week was a challenge involving satin pillowcases, shower caps, and a large, blue can of Aqua Net hairspray. The aerosol type. She had a variety of setting gels, sprays, and what have you under the bathroom sink, atop the sink, on the tank of the toilet, on the windowsill...my poor dad with two daughters to boot, all sharing a bathroom never stood a chance. Sometimes he'd retreat to the downstairs loo for some peace and quiet, but no mater how long he ran the fan, my mother would still pass by the door and scream, "flush!" Really, the man never stood a chance. She had a cosmetics bag down there as well, with a tiny vial of pastel green smelling salts. I used to look at them, but never dared to try them. There was a good supply of bandages, mecurichrome antiseptic (because in the 60's slathering mercury on a wound seemed like a good idea) and whatever might be needed to deal with scraped knees, bleeding noggins, or other childhood injuries. She wasn't about to let a bleeding child traipse upstairs to the full bathroom, leaving a trail of stains on the stairs.
Mother organized her closet by colour. When she died, my friend Angela came to help me clear out her things, and stood marveling at the twenty or so white shirts all hanging the same way, on the same sort of hangers, the skirts by colour, dresses. I come from a long line of women that consider it normal to iron and fold the dust rags before neatly placing them away-that was normal to me. I didn't show Angela the linen closet-it would have freaked her out too much.
Hours...it took my mother hours to pull herself together, and it just got worse as she aged. If she'd lived past her fifties, it would have taken her more time to get dressed than she would spend out. There was always that, "One last adjustment." Lipstick, perfume, a last spritz of hairspray...except...once...reaching for a canister by habit (someone must have moved something, it wasn't me) proceeded to spray her head with foaming Lysol Tub and Tile Cleaner. It wasn't me, I swear to god. She never did make it to that PTA meeting.