Painting by Jill Slaughter of anatomical heart on pattern background with lamp, chair and female figure.

All the Lies You Told - Jill Slaughter 18" x 24" acrylic on canvas

I have shopped, and paid for more than twenty black eyeliners. Though similar, they all held the promise of being quite different. A hollow assurance of being the one and only, the last one you’ll need to buy. The one you can dedicate yourself to. The one that will become yours.

Several are on the tray of cosmetics I use on a regular basis; others are in my travel make up case. A few are in random purses, while still others are in the draw of my desk at work. A single pencil is stashed in the vinyl case my dentist gave me so that every time I brush my teeth during the day I can re-apply the liner that came with the promise of 24-hour wear.

An eyeliner that lasts all day is as elusive as the African Galago monkey. A determined consumer is more likely to see this nocturnal primate while shopping than she (he) is to actually purchase the eyeliner that doesn’t fade, smudge or simply disappear.

Jill's collection of black eyeliners including pencils, creams, gels, and liquids

Jill's assortment of black eyeliners.

Midnight, deep charcoal, ebony, jet black, kohl, cream, gel, wands, pencils, liquid, dramatic, intense, bold, smooth, professional, all eyeliners. The ultimate formula may be included in these many varieties; however I am among the legions of hopefuls still searching for the one that doesn’t turn into goop in the corner of your eye within fifteen minutes of the initial application. Still searching for the one that lasts.

Some of my purchases came hand wrapped in tissue paper gently placed into a small glossy laminated paper bag by a salesperson enthusiastically promising that this one really worked. Some were bought along with a bottle of witch hazel and a bag of cotton balls, all dumped into a plastic sack at the dollar store. It didn’t matter. The packaging was sometimes convincing, sometimes it was just an impulse to try yet another brand. Always hoping it would be the one.

Sitting in the alley behind my house Harry asked me to be his girlfriend. He lived across the street from my house. He was blond, cute and the bad boy type. He smoked. I was eleven. Hoping my mom wouldn’t be looking out the window we gently kissed to cement our romance. We had seen each other around the neighborhood and that seemed to be the only criteria he needed to ask me to be his. Apparently I needed equally minimal amounts of information to enter into a relationship. That lack of discrimination became my map for dating.

Jill Slaughter - age 14, with long-term boyfriend

Jill (age 14) at beach with long-term boyfriend

As a teenager I dated the same boy for four years. At age fourteen I became his girlfriend, and we dated exclusively until I left for college. I liked him, and came to love him, but only started dating him because he was so good looking. That hollow attribute became added to my limited list of requirements for choosing a partner.

I have been dating for decades. “Off the market”, for a time because of my long term marriage, I am none the less a very experienced dater. Partners have included intellectuals, artists, lawyers, doctors, photographers, carpenters, entrepreneurs, trust funders, executives, academics, authors, actors, and do nothings.

Three boxers painted on a dumpster with "You've Got Your Spell On Me Baby" painted across the image

The Love Boxer - Richard Kurtz, house paint on dumpster.

Each budding romance held the promise of a lasting relationship. Each time I thought it would be my last first kiss. Each of us thinking this union would be the formula for success. The alchemy of idiosyncrasies and compassion that would allow a relationship to flourish.

The package has been different among the men I dated. Some came with glossy wrapping, others more plastic bag kind of guys, but it didn’t matter. I was attracted to something in each of them that had more to do with the outside than the content. My recent copy of a popular fashion magazine devoted almost a half page to a new eyeliner, guaranteed to last. But, only promising to work if the wearer follows a multi step process for application, none the less, it promises to work.

Yesterday , an acrylic on canvas painting 18"x24" of anatomical heart on patterned background with lamp and figure by Jill Slaughter.

Yesterday - by Jill Slaughter

The multi step process I now give serious thought to is seeing beyond the wrapping and getting to know all about the content of a potential partner. Because my mom, whose happy marriage has flourished for almost sixty years is still watching, as are my three beautiful daughters.

Photograph of Jill as teenager – Julio Mitchel