Seeking Arrangements

A few days later, Lina and I went to the MAC makeup store. She was doing some publicity with them, so she got lots of freebies. They had a beautiful creamy foundation, like liquid skin in a pot. Since I moved to the city my face has been a mass of blotches and pustules. I am forever on a mission to find cover-up and cream and face-masks.

“Try this Cara,” said Lina, handing me a pot the exact shade of my skin,

The assistant bustled over to me, and lifting my face to the light, began to paint my face in sweeping strokes with a big soft brush. A pale oval, smooth and radiant. “We use this in all out shoots,” said Lina, “the camera loves it.”

It was five o’clock. We walked to Connie’s, picking up food and juice on the way. “We need to detox,” said Lina. “You Brits drink like fishes, you are a bad influence on me.”

We sat at Connie’s watching YouTube videos of Brandon Wade being interviewed on different tv shows. Wade runs a couple of dating websites where rich men can meet pretty girls.

“He’s oddly likeable,” said Lina,

“Yes, kind of harmless and geeky,” I said,

Connie was annoyed. “He’s an e-pimp,” she said.

There was an openness about Wade’s operation, and the way he spoke. In several of the interviews he was directly accused of encouraging prostitution. He calmly denies this, explaining that they are romantic relationships rather than just sexual encounters.

“The trouble is,” said Lina, “that the couples agree in advance an allowance for the woman,”

“That’s what married couples used to do – housekeeping money,” I said.

“Marriage is just another form of prostitution,” said Connie, “a way of being owned by a man.”

I could tell she was angry with me for not being angry. “Brandon Wade is an insidious bastard,” she said, “the government should be working on closing the pay gap, not legalising prostitution.” She was almost spitting as she said this.

“Don’t patronise me,” I said, trying to stay calm. I love Connie, but sometimes her intensity is hard to be around. “It’s not that simple,” I said, thinking about some of the girls I’d known who had married rich men. “There are a lot of guys out there who’ve done well in business, and want some TLC from a trophy wife, and there are a lot of girls out there who are pretty, but lack the aggression to do well in business. For some people that sort of relationship can work. If no one feels they are being exploited, leave them to it I say.” This sounded flawed as I was saying it, but I felt Connie was wrong to view the world in such black and white terms.

Lina looked uncomfortable. “Yasmin said she saw Katy at the gym,” she ventured, by way of changing the subject.

“Bollocks,” said Connie, “Katy can’t afford to go to the same gym as Yasmin.”

“I think we should stop talking about Katy,” I said. More because I was bored with the gossip about her than out of respect.

Connie made us hot chocolate, and we curled up on her bed listening to The Doors. “I’m sorry I shouted at you,” she said. “I just get so cross about men.”

“Me too,” said Lina. “It isn’t working with Paul.”

“That’s because he’s a horrible vain man who doesn’t deserve you,” I said, knowing that Lina might be hurt, but in the long run, it was kindest to just say it.

Connie fell asleep, curled up like a child. She’d left all her piercings in, but she looked vulnerable.

Image: Girl by Connie

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