“All right, next for makeup!” Tina called, waving off some musician she’d never heard of. She did love working in Hollywood and rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, but having never kept up with modern music trends, it did mean she didn’t recognize a fair few of the guests. Ah well, she was just the makeup woman, she wasn’t expected to be in the loop.
She did recognize the new guy coming in, though. He’d been on the show a few times before, and she’d seen him in a few movies and shows. Despite all that, she could never remember his last name. She knew it had an instrument in it, but it just shot right out of her head every time. But he was a nice guy, and pretty easy-going. So she smiled brightly as he walked in. “Ah, hello! Good to see you again!”
He smiled. “Thanks. It’s a pleasure to see you too, Tina.”
“I’m surprised you remember me,” she said, gesturing to the chair, “You must see so many makeup ladies in your line of work.”
“This show has quite the professional staff,” he responded, “That’s what I really remember.”
Tina flushed at the compliment. “We aim to please. Now then, Mr…argh, I’m sorry, I just can never get your name right.”
“It happens,” he reassured her, “It’s Harper, like the big, gold, unwieldy instrument.”
“That’s right, thanks. Anyway, Mr. Harper, any particular area you want me to accentuate or diminish?”
He cleared his throat and looked a bit self-conscious at that. “Well…my nose. I’m afraid I’ve got a bit of a cold.”
She was surprised. “Really?”, she said doubtfully, looking him over. She’d worked her magic on many a sick person, and he was hiding it extremely well. No shadows under his eyes, no flush to his cheek, and no general appearance of ill-health. Except…now that she looked closer, she saw that the tip of his nose was indeed pinker than normal. Tina whistled. “You take excellent care of yourself. I wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t said anything. You gotta teach me that trick.”
Harper smiled a little. “I didn’t have anything to do, fortunately. I just stayed at home and tried to get some rest.”
“Good for you,” Tina said, opening up a jar of foundation, “Well, we’ll start with the basic set-up, and then we’ll work on the problem area.”
He laughed. “That is exactly what I would call it. It’s been driving me crazy for the past few days. I only just stopped sneezing non-stop yesterday.”
Now that she knew he was sick, she could hear a faint note of congestion in his voice. Still, he was hiding it remarkably well. “Well, the worst is over, right? You should be back to normal by the end of the week.”
“I certainly hope so.” he answered, rolling his eyes, “I’m never sure what to do when it’s just a cold; do you stay in bed, or do you work through it? At least things like a bad flu are pretty clear-cut.”
Tina rubbed the foundation into his cheeks. “Yeah, and if you do come in to work with the flu, people pretty much demand you go home. Sometimes they even pay you. Nice work if you can get it.”
He laughed again, but then composed himself in an attempt to make her job easier. Tina always liked it when people did that—showed they had some compassion for the grunts who worked on them. She got through the foundation and various creams without incident, then started carefully dusting his face with a powder to keep the makeup in place under the studio lights. Even with a cloth to cover his (black) suit, it was always best to go slow when using this stuff. One wrong move and it went everywhere, and showing up on stage looking like you just got caught in a freak snowstorm was not good for anyone involved.
She’d just finished Harper’s forehead when he held up a hand. “S-stop.”
“Eh?” she said, brush hovering over the powder.
“I need a s-second…” he stuttered, eyes fluttering closed. Tina realized what was going on at once, and quickly set the tin down. Harper extracted a handkerchief from somewhere and carefully cupped it around his nose, doing his best not to smudge the makeup. “Ih…Ih-ktchh!”
“Bless…” Tina began, but stopped when she realized he was far from finished. “Kchh! Pshh! Ah…Ah-CHHT!”
After a pause, Tina said, “Bless you!” Harper sniffed, and now his cheeks were tinged with red. “Thank you. I guess I forgot to mention that my nose is rather sensitive while I’m recovering from a cold. It’s all the sneezing I do during the cold. Drives me insane.”
Tina winced in sympathy. “Sorry about that. I’ll try to take it slow.”
She tried her utmost to keep the powder from flying into the air as she all but dragged the brush over his face. For his part, Harper took shallow breaths through his mouth and kept his eyes closed, no doubt mentally trying to keep from sneezing. He kept it in check extraordinarily well, only the occasional hitch of breath alerting her to his problem. Finally, she closed the tin and set it aside, wiping the brush with a cloth instead of shaking it out like she normally did. “Ok, I’m done. If you need to sneeze, now’s the best time.”
The handkerchief was back against his face immediately. “Het-SHEW!”
There was only one this time, but it was forceful, to say the least. Blinking a little, Tina blessed him. He tucked the handkerchief away and smiled sheepishly. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. A, you can’t help it; B, you’re not the first one to have some sensitivity to my application; C, you’re being polite about it; and D, you didn’t smudge the makeup. You’re doing a great job from where I’m standing.”
Harper gave the ghost of a laugh. “I do my best. How bad is the damage?”
Tina knew what he meant, and considered. “Well, your nose has gone from Pale Rose to Girly Pink, but it’s not overly noticeable. You probably could go out there and nobody would know. But I’ll cover it up anyway.”
“This isn’t going to involve more powder, is it?” Harper asked, wincing. She lifted a tin and showed it to him. “Nope, just a cream. I’ll be gentle.”
They got through the application without so much as a sniff. When she’d finished, she held up a mirror for his inspection. “Sufficiently covered?”
He nodded. “Perfect. Thanks, Tina.”
“My pleasure. Now get out there and wow the crowd.”
He stood up, dusted himself off (carefully) and headed for the green room. Tina gave an approving nod before calling out “Next for makeup!”
Normally, Tina just focused on applying makeup or cleaning up rather than watching the show (TVs were provided for the crew so they knew what was going on and who to send out next). After everything that had happened in makeup, however, Tina kept glancing up at the screen, curious to see how Harper would handle himself.
Pretty well, it turned out. There was just one sneeze, but that looked and sounded more like the remnants of his cold than any makeup problems. And even though he was clearly embarrassed, he was willing to discuss it with the host. Tina nodded; the man was a professional through and through.
An hour later, as everyone was “putting the show to bed”, Tina caught sight of Harper, putting on an overcoat. He spotted her and raised a hand in greeting. She waved back. “Nice job out there,” she commented, “Cold and all.”
He grinned. “Figured I might as well get it all out in the open.”
“Best thing for me, I think. Don’t want to risk a relapse.”
“Take care of yourself, Mr. Harper. Hope to see you on the show again soon.”
“Hopefully in a better condition,” Harper finished, amused, “Goodnight, Tina.”
She waved him off with a smile. Nice guy. Man, if he was that polite and composed when he was sick, what was he like when he was well?