Mrs. Ironwood likes cosmetics and makeup the way that I like cooking and food.
She's not vain, not at all. And she's not hopelessly insecure (not any more than any other woman, and better than the vast majority -- when your husband is constantly trying to have sex with you, it's kinda hard to feel unattractive), she just likes putting on and wearing makeup. She understands the powerful importance of presentation in the professional world, especially in terms of positioning in the Female Social Matrix, and she considers it a kind of artistic expression as well. She's gotten good at it by necessity, and even did a brief pre-career stint as a retail cosmetics manager in a mall store. She's intrigued by the science behind the glamour as well.
She spends a fair amount on cosmetics. But then she's a professional woman who meets with clients and colleagues and the general public, and she wants to make a good professional presentation. Makeup and wardrobe and nails are part of the job. Having worked in offices for decades, I can appreciate just how much a woman's success or failure in an endeavor can depend upon her self confidence . . . and if she feels that she has to spackle on the self-confidence every morning, then I'm not one to argue.
It makes her happy and feel better about herself, it amuses me and the kids to watch her make faces in the mirror, and it's something that's uniquely feminine, like me tending to my facial hair is uniquely masculine. I admit I indulge her when there's a sale on something she likes, and she cooperates by limiting her purchases within a self-imposed budget and working the free samples shamelessly.
All that being said, at the end of the day -- and they all seem like long, hard, stressful days, recently -- when she's dragging home late after yet-another meeting, after eating dinner, kissing the kids goodnight and reviewing their homework, collapsing into bed exhausted and passing out without another thought is one of her favorite things to do. Sometimes she barely has the strength or initiative to get undressed (I'm happy to help her with that), much less do the full de-bureaucratiization process. If that means sleeping in makeup and smearing her pillow (and sometimes mine) with makeup, well, I'm not that picky. I usually follow the Guy Rule when it comes to clothing and such ("If it doesn't have Shit, Blood Or Puke on it, It Ain't That Bad") and a little mascara smear never bothers me.
But last night, for no particular reason, when she finally stumbled in after her meeting and it was time for night-night, I noted that she was in no mood to de-spackle her face. She doesn't like sleeping in makeup (she says it reminds her of the Walk of Shame in the morning) but once she's down, she's down. So I grabbed a couple of makeup removing wipes and washed her face -- or at least got the lion's share of the goop off of it so she wouldn't look like Tammy Faye Baker in the morning. I mean, it wouldn't kill my morning wood or anything (and if you know of something that can, Mrs. Ironwood would dearly like to know) but it's not the best look to wake up to.
The experience of washing her face turned into something more, however. The kinesthetic sense of my fingers on her face, gently rubbing away the makeup, grime, sweat, and cares of the day, felt wonderful to her. I explored every square millimeter of he face as I wiped the gunk off, and whispered soothing things to her while she just laid there and made sex noises. I had to be careful, of course, and ended up going back for a third wipe (she loves makeup, in case I hadn't mentioned that) but at the end of the experience she looked up with a beatific expression that put a warm glow in my heart and a tent pole in my pants.
"I feel so loved and taken care of," she said with a sigh. "That's the nicest thing that's happened to me all day. Can you do that again tomorrow?"
I shrugged. "Baby, whatever kinda foreplay you want!"
She giggled. "Actually, as nurturing and caring as that felt, it was also pretty dominant. All I could do was lay there and let it happen to me. That was very sweet, Ian, thoughtful and considerate. I felt like a kitten being licked by an attentive parent."
"I'm suddenly not feeling particularly parental," I noted. The face washing had definitely been erotic, and gosh, that's hard for a dude to hide even when he wants to. I had no such inclination. Hilarity ensued.
So wash her face. It's a deeply intimate, yet utterly utilitarian way to bond with your girl over something girly. And it would be a shame to let a freshly-scrubbed face go unkissed . . .