Crystal's StorySite

The Scrapbook               By Amber Palmer



Carefully, I dabbed away the excessive glue from the margins of my latest acquisition. It was an especially good find as it had already been assigned to the trash and would never be missed. I meticulously trimmed the edges and arranged the panels so that they formed an geometric collage, fitting neatly together. The glue would be dry in a few minutes and then I could return my book to the safety of its hidden niche.

As I waited, I re-read the assembled panels.

"Experience Sixteen Hour comfort and support that feels like a natural part of you! Silky, smooth fabric and specially designed Comfort-Stretch® straps move with you throughout your day for an unbelievably comfortable fit.

*Comfort-Stretch® straps give a little, hug a little, stretching just the right amount to match your every move without sacrificing support! Wear these straps with confidence…they won’t slip off!

*Cushioned straps help alleviate shoulder discomfort and prevent strap "dig-in".

*Beautiful, sleek styling is contemporary and feminine with sheer windows and soft, satiny fabric."

As I fingered the included illustrations I wondered just what it was like to actually experience "strap dig-in". I recalled Mother complaining about her back itching under the straps, but I’d never heard her grumble about "Strap dig-in". Oh, well, that just proved how little I really understood about the idiosyncrasies of womanhood. The glue dry, I slid the old scrapbook back between its inconspicuous cousins, confident it was safe from prying eyes.


Chapter 1

Waste Not, Want Not

My name is Jeffery Cole and let me give you some background as to how this all started. When I was back in the eighth grade, my school required a California history project. It could be on any aspect of California’s history, but had to be done in a scrapbook format, and be at least forty pages in length. Including pages with maps and historic pictures was allowed, but if there was too much of this type of padding, you were graded down. A theme was required and I chose the mission chain of Father Junipero Serra.

In keeping with the theme and in order to add some artistic flair, I constructed the cover in a burnt wood motif, knolled edges and all. I used bronzed antique hinges for the front cover and weathered appearing bolts to bind the pages together. I found I could give the pages an aged appearance by yellowing the paper in the sun. Some sheets were made to look even older by using a flame to scorch the edges. The project earned me an A-minus grade and I was quite pleased.

Mother displayed the book for a couple of months on the living room coffee table, after which, it was relegated to storage on a bookshelf in my bedroom. There it collected dust until I found a more creative use for it.

It was about a year later when I collected some rather interesting pictures I desired to preserve. Rather than stuff them under my bed, which was regularly cleaned by my mother, I hoard them away between the pages of my California history project. After all, why have such a fine piece of craftsmanship go to waste?

The plan worked moderately well, except for one small problem. The pages were so loosely bound, that items stored between them tended to slip out whenever the book was moved. A bottle of Elmer’s glue solved this problem and my scrapbook took birth.

I soon graduated from pictures of teenage girls in their bikinis and shorts, to Victoria Secrets type material. Selected sexy chemises, lacy babydolls, and satin items of lingerie were carefully selected to suite my fancy and then tastefully displayed in my private archives.

I’m not sure of how I transitioned from merely collecting pictures to items of more substance, but it happened near the end of the ninth grade.

My mother and sister had left for the afternoon leaving me home alone. I had browsed my scrapbook and returned it to its designated slot on my bookshelf. Curiosity got the better of me and I ventured into my mother’s bedroom. There before me on her vanity table rested containers of sweet smelling lotions and tons of makeup supplies. On the far side of her bed sat her bureau and its drawers containing even more exotic items.

Where to start? I first opened the drawer containing her bras. Ever so cautiously, I selected the top item and removed it, careful to note exactly how it was situated in relation to the others. I meticulously studied how it was folded before attempting any further examination. Yes, here was one of the mysteries that had confounded my curiosity and I was holding it. I examined the delicate lace pattern of the cups and fingered the fasteners used to close it in the back. I was getting in over my head, so I re-folded the bra and returned it to its place.

I started to leave the room when the cosmetics on the top of her vanity caught my eye. What the heck, I pickup a lipstick that she had probably used earlier that afternoon. Removing the green plastic cap, I was immediately taken by the perfumed scent coming from this most feminine of icons. Twisting the base exposed the worn surface of color. I scrutinized its exaggerated oblique contour that had been sculptured by her lips. It betrayed its used condition. Interesting I mused.

Then I don’t know what processed me, but looking in the mirror, I held the tube to my lips and ventured to see what I would look like with a little touch of color. It went on smooth and without effort, and in less than twenty seconds I had coated my lips in a dark pink shade. I licked my lips and then pursed and blotted them against each other, a maneuver I’d watched girls do a hundred times. Not bad, I thought.

I picked up a brush and combed my rather longish hair so that it silhouetted my face and I realized that I could have been a girl. I just stared until reality came flashing back and I realized I how dangerous a risk I was taking.

I set the brush down and pulled a tissue from its dispenser and wiped the evidence off my mouth. A second tissue was needed and I stuffed both in my pocket before heading for the bathroom. There, I proceeded to use soap and water to complete the removal. I scrutinized my lips and, although still somewhat red from the rubbing, I concluded that no one could tell I’d been wearing lipstick.

As I was emptying my pockets of the smudged tissues, I realized I had acquired a new trophy for my scrapbook. While I flushed one of the soiled tissues down the toilet, I unfolded the other and taped it to a page across from a lovely young maiden with pouting dark red lips. Somehow the picture became more personal and in some surreal way, I felt connected in a way I’d never previously experienced.

Tucking my scrapbook back into its slot, I realized that I’d be collecting more interesting booty in the future.

It was later that same evening that I laid in bed, fearful that I’d forgotten to clean my brown hairs from my mother’s brush. It was too late to do anything about it, so I rolled over and went to sleep.


Chapter 2

Behind Enemy Lines

I have only one sibling, an older sister, who was usually my arch nemesis. Allison had two years on me, but over the past couple of years I’d almost caught up to her in both height and weight. The days of her pushing me around had finally come to an end.

We were lucky enough to have our own bedrooms, so at least I had an area of sanctuary from her nagging ways. I’d always contended that she got treated more preferentially than me, in that she got to have her own stereo-CD player and the old portable TV in her room. I had to settle for Mom’s old clock radio. It wasn’t that unusual for either of us to venture into the others room to retrieve a CD or other "borrowed" item.

It was a few weeks after my venture into my mother’s bedroom, that an opportunity for exploration again presented itself. I couldn’t find my Dodger’s cap and I had seen Allison wearing it recently. With her away at a friends, I decided to see if she still had it.

On entering her room there was a strong sense of déjà vu. Her room was much more disheveled, but there again was the cosmetic covered vanity and the half open drawers of feminine delights. Since I had a good alibi, I decided a little poking about wouldn’t be near as risky as going into my mother’s domain. Furthermore, with the cluttered condition, I doubted that a little snooping would be noticed.

Her bra drawer was sorted in a random pattern and it seemed that its contents had been stuffed into place rather than folded or sorted. The variety of her bras were also quite different than my mothers’. While Mom’s were heavy and almost rigid, Sis’s were light and flimsy. There were the obviously smaller cups and a greater variety of pastels instead of Mom’s conservative whites and blacks.

After exploring a few other drawers, I turned to the items on her vanity. Again while familiar, they were distinctively different, indicative of a younger personality. Displayed were a greater variety of lipsticks and an emphasis away from the darker colors Mom preferred.

Going through the different tubes, I found a color that matched one worn by my favorite model. As I twisted the base to extend the glistening frosted pink contents, I noticed how different a wear pattern Sis made compared to Mom. Mom’s was a sharp slant, while Sis had sculptured a symmetrical point that tapered from two sides. How curious; each had their own distinctive signature.

Well it was time to make an addition to my collection. I smoothly ran the tube over my lips and again blotted them against each other. I’d been thinking about how sloppy my trophy tissue had become, and went and got a piece of stationary from the pad she kept next to her phone. I carefully blotted my mouth on the folded edge of paper, leaving a perfect imprint of shimmering pink on the white background.

I was quite proud of myself as I removed the lipstick from my lips. I was quite careful to return it to its exact location on the desk top before leaving the room. Somehow, I’d forgotten about my Dodgers Cap.

I trimmed away the excess margin and secured it to the page opposite a brooding model. "Much better." I assured myself as I studied the proof of my quest. It came to be one of my favorite pages.


Chapter 3

Other Diversions

Over the next few months, I expanded the type of items I amassed. I won’t go into them all, but let me tell you about a few.

There was the discarded box that had packaged the bra with the Comfort-Stretch® straps mentioned above. Other prices rescued from the trash-bin included the clipped panels from various boxes. There was the insertion instructions from a box of Playtex® Slimfits® tampons. Who would have thought that you had to load the tampon into the barrel just so or you’d have trouble retrieving the strings?

One of my favorites was the background cardboard from a tube of Revlon Pink Lemonade ColorStay® liquid-lip. With it’s "And kiss off? No way!" claim, I wasn’t about to gamble putting it on. What if it would wash totally off?

My most daring excursion saw me purchasing a set of press-on nails in a color that matched Sis’s frosted pink lip color. I used my own money and made the excuse that I was buying them for my sister. I’m not sure the girl cashier bought the story, but then, so what. We’d never see each other again. Right?

I saved those until I was home by myself again, and then used the double stick pads to attach them to my fingers. Wow!! What a different feel they gave my hands. And the reflection I viewed while wearing them and applying Sis’s lipstick in the mirror? A cold chill shook my body and I got light headed.

After I wore the nails for a while, it was time to take them off before the troops arrived home. They pealed off with minimal difficulty and then I had a stroke of genius. I traced an outline of my own hands onto a blank page in the scrap book. Since the sticky pads were still attached to the back of the nails and I thought I could use them to bind to the page, but no such luck. The spring left in the acrylic curves caused a number of them to pop free. I had to resort to using scotch tape before I felt that they would remain securely adherent to the page.

A kiss of the same colored lip gloss went on the back of my outlined hand. It was truly a work of art. And then my book went back onto my private shelf where it would safely wait until the next time.



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