I have a special place I go. It’s full of glamour, intrigue and the promise of a more beautiful life. It has everything—drugs, snacks, an impressive drinks list—and it doesn’t even charge cover. I’m there almost every day, summoned by the siren song of its $6.99 mascaras and fruity bubble baths.
The local drugstore is my nightclub, and I’m a VIP.
I spent years of my life in actual nightclubs. I met my husband at an after-hours warehouse party, and we were married and pregnant within a year and a half. My tumble from aging party girl to swollen couch creature was shocking and swift. In short order I disgorged a small human and suddenly found myself confined mostly to within a 10-mile radius of my home.
But the neighbourhood drugstore was a beacon within that radius—one that shone out, seemingly simultaneously, to every unwashed, sweatpants-clad, lipstickless mat-leave mom. We converged there like shuffling, leaking zombies, loading up on diapers while also wistfully clutching the eye creams that promised to make us look less tired. I’d pace the aisles, nostalgic for a life in which I actually still had somewhere to wear sparkly green eyeliner. And I’d cavalierly ignore the Please Do Not Open Packages or Test Products signs because I had to see if that sparkly eyeliner I had nowhere to wear worked with my skin tone, OKAY? I’d huff all the glycerine soaps—pink smell! purple smell! orange!—and stock up on hair dye for my ever-growing crown of greys. I’d even optimistically buy various body-hair-removing products, imagining that perhaps, one day, I’d have sex again.
I also picked up women. I met one of my first “mom friends” in the lineup there, and if I was lonely and it was between the hours of 12 and two, I could usually find my next-door neighbour in the magazine aisle while her twins napped in their stroller. It was just like rolling into the party at midnight and knowing everyone, except the lights were brighter and the drugs (mostly) softer.
My kid is eight now, but I still visit my drugstore almost every day. It isn’t one of those fancy, upgraded ones full of luxury beauty lines that make you feel like you should have worn a different outfit when you just needed tampons, goddamnit. Mine is the kind where you can loiter in the back-to-basics makeup aisle for 47 minutes (approximately!) without being trailed by a woman with a shellacked face who’s eager to help you spend all your money on $35 mascara. Mine is the kind that has dusty bottles of Anaïs Anaïs eau de toilette under lock and key, and where they don’t judge if you fill your basket with Elle Decor and Vogue when it’s obvious you should just buy Best Casseroles R Us and a sitz bath, and call it a day. Mine is a place where you can imagine, if only for a moment, that those leopard-print press-on nails and neon eyeshadow palettes will turn you into Rihanna for less than $20. It’s the place where you definitely need to just run off to grab something and you’ll only be gone for 38 minutes (approximately!) right at the moment your kid needs help with his math homework. It’s the place I somehow always come home from wearing sparkly green eyeliner. Because you know what? If you’re going to the club, you gotta look good.