Russian Contraband

Image I know what you are thinking. How could anyone make a fur hat from a stray dog look so good? We all have our strengths people. Rocking fur in a Siberian winter is one of mine.

I lived in Russia from ages 11-13. These were the days of Russian breadlines and shortages of all kinds. New products were being introduced to people for the first time as well. I'll never forget the time a dishwasher showed up in a big department store in the city. People hadn't even heard of one before.

I stopped in a little kiosk at the bottom of my apartment building one day. There it was. I hadn't seen it before in our city of 500,000. Where did they get it?!?!

I didn't care if they had purchased it from the black market. I didn't care if they had broken people's thumbs to get it. I wanted it.

A small package that every 13 year old wants. A tube of Cover Girl lipstick. It was petal pink and frosted, but I didn't care. I wanted it. I could tell it was real because the package didn't say something like 'For the cosmetic coloring of mouth for beautiful woman '. Those ridiculous attempts at English were dead giveaways for fake imports. This was real. It was American. I was American. We were meant for each other.

So I bought it. The rest of the winter my dog & squirrel fur hats were accentuated with frosted petal pink lips.

It was the first makeup I ever owned. And it might have been illegal.

Quite the coming of age story don't you think?