Cosmos and Cosmetics: The Private Universe of Vera Vanderbilt

Cosmos and Cosmetics: The Private Universe of Vera Vanderbilt

A Story by HoWiE

This idea came to me one Saturday afternoon, bored off my tits, wandering around the Cosmetic Couters of my local Debenhams Department store... funny what goes through your head isn't it?


     It's a grim thing you know, trawling round the cosmetics counters on a Saturday afternoon with my girlfriend, Mouse. I check my watch, the football scores will be in soon and I can almost taste the beer on my lips� the lads and I have arranged a bit of a session this evening and I'm looking forward to it. My crafty plan is already in motion; keep Mouse sweet by hauling my carcass around the cosmetics for the afternoon, then invite her out with us. This has two possible outcomes:
     a) She says, "No, we've a lovely afternoon together darling, you head out with the boys and enjoy yourself. I'll stay in, have a bath, watch a girly movie and use that new cucumber face pack." Result! Sneakily, I have already forked out for the new 'Champagne Supernova' bath bomb from Lush, thus putting the prospect of a fizzy bath in her mind. I don't purport to be a genius, it's just natural instinct.
     b) She says, "Yeah it'll be nice to have a few beers with the guys � what time are we going out?" F**k! Contrary to what you may think, this is not a total disaster. Mouse gets on well with all the lads and vice versa: she's one of the sacred few who have been accepted into the 'Boy's Beer Circle'. However, upon this eventuality the unspoken 'Plan Bravo' comes into effect. Via various fixed drinking games early on, Mouse will invariably end up having to be bundled into a taxi by 9pm and sent home. The seamlessness and fluidity of this well practised strategy is breathtaking to behold and is generally capped with me saying something like, "aww are you sure you have to go chick? Want me to come home with you?" She never does, bless her.

     We near the counter and my heart sinks a little as I spy a cloud on my bright horizon. Vera Vanderbilt. I check my watch again and begin to detect the familiar sensation connected with the phenomenon know as the 'Debenham's Time Bubble' or more accurately, the 'Vanderbilt Sphere'. Vera Vanderbilt is the singularity curving time and space, allow me to explain:
     Once you are in the 'Vanderbilt Sphere' three things happen:
     a) Time within the bubble slows to a crawl thus extracting every single element of the encounter and drawing it out painfully over a protracted period of time.
     b) Space/time beyond the bubble hurtles past at a worrying speed, beer-time approaches in the real world and yet here I am stuck in the frighteningly sluggish here and now.
     c) The third and most disquieting event is the transformation of Mouse, from reliable, cosmetically-attracted, girlfriend to unconditionally cosmetically-obsessed automaton complete with soprano-pitched fake laughter and alien dialogue. It's terrifying.
     I see the Vanderbilt radar kick in and her 'Urban-Decay' tractor beam locks on; Mouse is caught mid-step and gravitates to the counter. My piss up, it seems, is in serious jeopardy.
     "Hello my love!" Vera rolls up the sleeves of her Tweed jacket, ready for the hard sell.
     "Aloe Vera!" Sigh � and so it begins. "You've moved counters," Mouse says smiling.
     "Yes, my love, we had Lalique coming through the ceiling after all that rain, so we had to move counters to No. 7," Vera replies rotating a finger to indicate nothing in particular. I notice that her face is a completely different colour to the skin of her neck, rather like someone has glued a 35 year old face onto a 55 year old head.
     "So how have you been?" Mouse becomes all affected and bats a hand at the woman.
     "Oh I'm Wella! We've just come back from Bulgari, it was one of those Cheap & Chic holidays; we flew out on one of those budget eyeliners but it was fine. Have you met my new team?" She flashes her 'Rimmel 214 Purple Rain' tipped fingers at three sales-people fussing in hi-speed over a woman and her baby outside the bubble. "That's Ralph, Lauren and Chloe."
     Ralph waggles a finger theatrically at the baby, "Aww what a little Cerruti! Gucci-Gucci-Goo!"
     I shudder. With his swarthy complexion and neatly plucked eyebrows he looks more like some camp Gabbana boy from Latin America, he sees me staring and smiles. Toothily. I quickly scoop up an eye shadow and examine it intensely until he looks away again. I run an appreciative eye over the others (checking first to see if Mouse is watching). Lauren, is clearly an east Dunhill, girl and charming in a strangely detached fashion, almost as if she didn't quite realise it. Chloe, on the other hand, is pure dyed-in-the-wool beauty consultant material with a tight orange face and vermillion lipstick; it looks a little like someone has drawn lips on a basketball.
     "He's very nice and all, if not a little sensitive," Vera says lowering her voice and nodding towards Ralph, "he's worried that he's losing his Herrera at 26, the poor dear. He's very fit though; he's in training to swim the Chanel."
     They both look at me, baffled I shuffle my Veet and stare longing towards the Dior; locked in my own private L'or�al, I'm desperately need a pint of Lagerfeld.
     "Oh look who it is!" Mouse enthuses, clapping her hands as two women pop into the bubble. I recognise these two all right looking so much like two Barbie dolls inflated to two hundred PSI, the twin lip plumpers, Ruby and Millie. Oh dear God.
     Ruby short stepping in a pencil skirt (I assume it's because her lipstick) and Millie, Pantene under the effort of carrying all her shopping. "Honestly," Millie gushes, "I've bought so much I'm going to need a Cartier, to get this lot home. Oh, hello you!" She waves at me, not remembering my name. I grimace in silent greeting.
     Amidst much hand flapping and high-pitched histrionics they bombard each other with snippets of gossip and insane psycho-Babyliss.
     "Did you hear," Ruby begins, looking shiftily left and right, "I know it's Victoria's Secret but I've just got to tell somebody� well, she just got back from the Clinique Happy because she's pregnant."
     "Really?" Mouse gasps startled, "I thought she and her chap had split up. Oooh," she finally cottons on, "so� whose?"
     "Guess!" Millies chirps, "and you're right, it's not her Guy Laroche's."
     Mouse shrugs.
     "Well, I heard Hugo's Boss tell him that Max Factor." Ruby whispers.
     "But aren't they Cussons!" Mouse squeaks.
     "Can't you ask Hugo outright?"
     "Yardley! I don't want to get a name for myself around the office, do I!"
     My mind starts to spin; I need to Guerlain down before I fall down.
     "She's lucky to be pregnant at all after that terrible accident," Vera adds, her pencilled-on eyebrows riding high.
     "Oh yes, she was in Vaseline Intensive Care for a while," Mouse nods seriously.
     A muffled ringtone brings some respite from the zig-zagging conversation and Millie fishes inside her two handbags. Why doesn't she just buy one bigger bag? The tone appears to be some polyphonic disaster by Britney Spears, "that's Curious, I don't recognise the number," Millie stares at her phone for a second then shrugs vacantly. "Hallo?" It's one of those designer phones that's shaped like a compact mirror and covered in White Diamonds.
     She pokes a finger in her spare ear and gurns her face up, "hallo? Hallo? I'm sorry, I can't hear you � you'll have to speak Lauder." She turns away from us, the way people do when there's a problem with the line� yes twisting though 180 degrees should do it.
     "So I'm looking for something sparkly but won't rub off as soon as I blink," Mouse was saying. Now this was a good thing, she was starting to order which meant that we had broken the back of conversation.
     Vera smiled a terrible and expensive smile, "Lancome with me and I'll show you what's just in, my love."
     "You Glow Girl!" Ruby clucks.
     "Olay!" Millie remarks snapping shut her phone and nudging her chunky sister with a dimpled elbow, "that was Mac from the college about Matte's Foundation course at the Spa, we'd better let him know," she said excitedly. "We really should Davidoff." I had no idea what she was on about, but their leaving was also a good sign.
     "Yes anyway, Moschino!" Ruby beamed waving frantically
     "Au Revlon!"
     I turn my attention back towards Vera who has lumped a sizeable pile of cosmetics and fragrances on the counter-top. I'm staggered! Does she really need all this? Krusty the clown has less face-paint.
     Mouse rummages in her bag, looks blank, worried and then sheepish. "Oh�"
     Sigh. I reach for my wallet. "And Lacoste?"
     "That's �126, my love."
     FCUK! I hand over my credit card. This was already turning into an expensive night
I check my watch again�
     "Aww, thank you baby," Mouse bats her 'hopelessly devoted to pink' 3 powder eye shadow painted eyes at me although I still fail to see the Benefit. She winks at Vera Vanderbilt, "I knew he'd Givenchy in the end and buy me stuff," she giggles.
     I smile tightly.
     "Are we ready?"
     "Yes, yes I think we are!!"
     "Okay, shall we go for a Starbucks' Frapuccino then head back?"

     Suddenly we are outside the bubble and time and space begin to once again correlate. I breathe a sigh of relief. We head home, Frapuccino in hand (one Raspberry, one Burberry of course) and beer on my mind. I check my watch, about an hour to get ready, not a problem though I'll need to iron a shirt-
     "Oh look," Mouse says earnestly, "is that a new shoe shop?"


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Music by Ernie K. Doe.

© 2008 HoWiE

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Featured Review

I was impressed. At first, halfway through when I noticed all the grammar mistakes and general weirdness I started to think maybe you'd gotten liquored up in the middle of writing it, but I really like how it's just the different universe thing. Everything goes fuzzy and stops to make sense for a while. Great concept. Great characters. Great write.

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Oh my god! you're a sick genius. I faltered when the names crept in, telling my brain they weren't mistakes but once I adjusted it was a breeze!!!
Great bit of writing Mr and my fav bit was the lipstick line!
Get back on the horse you need to write some more of this brilliant s**t!
Sammy x

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I was impressed. At first, halfway through when I noticed all the grammar mistakes and general weirdness I started to think maybe you'd gotten liquored up in the middle of writing it, but I really like how it's just the different universe thing. Everything goes fuzzy and stops to make sense for a while. Great concept. Great characters. Great write.

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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2 Reviews
Added on May 20, 2008
Last Updated on November 4, 2008



Plymouth,, Devon, United Kingdom

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