I've been thinking about cat eyes. Not the real kind, for which we clearly both have an affinity, as evidenced by our respective Instagram accounts, but the kind that are accomplished with a steady hand and, traditionally, liquid liner.
This is a look I've been very interested in ever since May 1990, when Billy Idol released the video for his song "Cradle of Love." As you surely recall, the plot of said clip—directed by David Fincher, I just learned—is simple: A young girl knocks on the door of an apartment occupied by an uptight businessman (I assume he's a businessman) and asks if she can borrow his stereo to play, yes, a cassette. He agrees, she pops the tape in the deck and, as Idol's song unspools, she proceeds to drink his wine, disrobe selectively, dance seductively, and, it's suggested, generally trash the place.
We were in the 8th grade when this video came out, and I remember that there was a rumor going around my school that the dancer/actress who played the girl was precisely our age. This turns out to be false—according to the internet, her name is Betsy Lynn George and she was actually born in June 1971, making her almost 19 at the time—but the implication of this information was that the only thing that was preventing me from being the kind of girl Billy Idol writes songs about was a skillful application of cat-eye liner.
Back then, I attempted to approximate the look with regular pencil-style liner, and was never successful enough to actually leave the house with it on. Now, though, there's a veritable host of options available to anyone, like me, who wants to create a decent cat eye without first attending some kind of seminar. One of the newest, and I think the best, is Benefit's "They're Real! Push-Up Liner"—that odd name stems from the fact that the liner is an extension of the "They're Real" line, which started with a mascara that purports to give one lashes so dramatic they look almost false. I pre-ordered the Push-Up Liner because I wanted to ensure that I was one of the first people that received it, and, after a little practice, I think I've gotten pretty good at putting it on. But: I still haven't worn it out of the house. Is it just too much for my relatively casual lifestyle? You tried it, after I forced you to. What did you think? —Lauren
Hard to imagine, I know, but I was not nearly as cool as you in 8th grade. If Billy Idol wasn’t in New Kids on the Block I probably didn’t think much of him. And then I went to college in Maine and, well, you can see how my relationship with eyeliner was maybe a little stunted. It’s really only been a thing for me since I hit my mid-30s and darkened my hair and decided that a little liner might (might) make me look less old. That said, I’m still working on perfecting a regular old line using a regular old pencil; nothing too dramatic. And still, I’m still not sure if the liner flaking down my face by 2 pm is my fault or the makeup's. I had never attempted a cat eye before you, as you admit, forced me to (in your parents’ bathroom, as if we were 13). All I can say is that I still need a seminar. Drawing is hard on paper, and even harder on your face. The tip of They’re Real! kept falling off in a clump on my lid, after which it fell onto your parents’ granite vanity top and thank god we had the They’re Real! Makeup Remover, or else I might still be there scrubbing. There is no room for error, and that stuff does not come off — your face or your counter. I went to dinner that night looking like a drunk Cleopatra. —Alyssa
It almost sounds as though you haven't uncapped the liner since we left my parents' house in Vermont. (And rural Vermont, it could be argued, isn't the best place to debut such a capital-L Look, even if you had executed it perfectly, which, I must admit, you did not.) Perhaps you could use a little practice? For one thing, you were dispensing too much of the product onto the tip; start with almost none and then, if you feel like you are trying to line your eyes with invisible ink, click the the end of the wand once to release a bit more. Why don't you try it again tonight? And tomorrow? And, probably, the day after? In return, I'll paint my eyes like Ariana Grande did for the video for "Problems" (don't accuse me of living in the past) and head out into the city to see whether I feel glamorous or, as I fear, like a teenager playing dress-up. —Lauren
So I took your advice and I’ve been wearing wobbly cat eyes around Newburyport for a week now and I don’t know, I could be projecting, but these side eyes I’ve been getting (including from my actual cats) … I’m not sure I can take any more. I get that if I’m going to perfect the cat eye for cat eye-worthy occasions I need to put in the time in the off hours, but practicing is hard and, I won’t lie, sort of demoralizing. I want to look effortlessly perfect. Maybe we just need to add liquid eyeliner to the list of things I’m unable/ too lazy to get better at, like tennis, or plants. —Alyssa