From the beauty mark she has dubbed a "lunch-lady mole" to my choice of shoes ("all wrong"), nail color ("eww") or the slipshod attention I pay to my hair, my personal beauty consultant does not mince words.
But despite my repeated failure to rise to the level of glamour to which she aspires, she is constantly vigilant for fresh opportunities to intervene. I come out of the shower to find her laying out clothes on my bed. I duck out from under the hairbrush as she swipes at my head. I decline her offers of a makeover as often as I can.
She is pretty sure she has me at a weak moment when I agree to take her to the library despite a cold that has left me bleary-eyed, red-nosed and pale green in color. "Ugh," I say, looking in the mirror. "Give me a minute so no one calls the health department."
"Let me," she says, grabbing an eyeliner and moving in. "No thank you," I say, carelessly daubing concealer into the blue crescents under my eyes. I repeat the underachiever's beauty motto: "Good enough."
She sighs. I have disappointed her again.
A half hour later we sink into a low couch at the library with our books. Then I see the sign: "Young adults section, 12-18 only."
"I'm not supposed to be sitting here," I say.
"Me either," she says.
"You could pass for 12," I say. "But I don't think I could pass for 18."
She looks closely at my face as if to gauge the truth of this.
"I told you to put more makeup on," she says.
Photo: Is that what you're wearing?