Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog.
Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Lipstick on the Cup and Other Memories by Liz Flaherty

I wrote this a few years back. My apologies if you've seen it before, but it felt right for today. Happy January! 

"Flowers in the city are like lipstick on a woman -- it just makes you look better to have a little color." - Lady Bird Johnson

Several months ago, I put on makeup to go out and realized I looked better with it on. Nan Reinhardt and I were off on a weekend soon afterward and did a little high-school-freshman shopping at Walgreen's or CVS and I added to my cosmetics supply. On her advice, I even started wearing eye shadow. I'm still not good at it, but I'm getting better. Whether I like to admit it or not, the truth is that when I look better, I feel better. That being the case, I wear makeup nearly every day, even if I'm not going anywhere. The roommate likes me in it, too, and mentions it, and while I don't think I'd wear it for that reason alone, the "new look from an old lover" doesn't hurt.

A few days into my makeup-wearing adventure, I looked at my coffee cup and saw lipstick on its edge. My first thought was, I'll admit, "Yuck," and I grabbed a napkin to rub it away. My second thought was of my mother-in-law, who left lipstick on every cup she drank from and, more importantly, on everyone she kissed hello or goodbye.

In short, lipstick was part of Mom's telling you she loved you. I think of her every time I see my "Tickled Pink" lip print on my cup. And I leave it there.

You might wonder, and rightfully so, what lipstick smears have to do with writing romance or women's fiction. The only time the prints show up is on murder mystery covers or if a wayward husband is having an affair.

But my kids grew up with their grandma's lip prints on their foreheads and their cheeks. It is a memory that has a place in all our hearts. It gives joy to me each time I look at the pink spot on my cup.

As an author, this is what I want to give to people who read my stuff. They don't have to remember all my titles, protagonists, or story lines. They don't have to finish a book if it doesn't click after the first chapter, although I thank them for trying.

But, if they remember Grace Elliot saying "geezy Pete," or Lucy Dolan's cat, Kitty Kinsale, or that Cass Logan made the best gingerbread men in Christmas Town, I'm happy with that. I hope they are, too. I hope it's the lipstick print on their cups and that they smile when they remember.


  1. Wonderful post. I have so many memories of my grandmother and her lipstick. She wore a shade called Instant Mocha. When she passed away, we found around 40 tubes of it in her drawer. She was afraid it would be discontinued, so she prepared for that possibility. She was something!

    1. I love that story! My mother-in-law was very picky about her colors and she looked like a million bucks no matter what one she wore.

  2. Your writing never fails to touch me! I used to never go out without makeup. COVID changed that (among other things). Now I rarely wear it, and that's okay too. It's funny what little things can stir up memories for us!

    1. Every time I wear it, I swear I'm going to do it more often know...I look a lot better. And then I don't. :-)

  3. You made me tear up, Liz. Your post made me think of my mom who never went out without her lipstick on. On that final trip to the hospital, she pulled her lipstick from her makeup bag and stroked it on her lips. Oh, gosh. I miss her so much.

    1. Oh, I understand! Mom--my mother-in-law--had hers with her, too. We're lucky in our memories, aren't we? Thanks for coming by, Joan.


Thank you for commenting on Smart Girls Read Romance. We love readers and love their comments. We apologize that due to a few unethical spammers we've had to institute comment moderation. Please be patient with us... we DO want your genuine comments!