Mary Wagner

Mary Wagner
Wisconsin, USA
February 13
Former journalist, now criminal prosecutor, and award winning essayist and photographer, proves its never too late to make mid-course corrections! Vices include Belgian chocolate, Irish castles, great shoes, long clean shorelines, classic cartoons, big skies and Lee Child "Reacher" novels. Multiple degrees earned in the "school of life" include mother of four, former girl scout leader, truckstop waitress, cocktail waitress, office temp, judicial clerk, and radio talk show host. Latest essay collection, "Fabulous in Flats," just went live, preceded by "Running with Stilettos" and "Heck on Heels." Visit my website at


FEBRUARY 14, 2012 11:23AM

Emergency Makeup Kit

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I've laughed over the years--and been laughed at too, usually by one man or another--at the thought that I've got what I call "emergency makeup kits" stockpiled around. They're filled mostly with tiny makeup samples from bonus times at cosmetic counters--and bagged in one of the myriad colorful little "bonus bags" they came in.

There are emergency supplies, and then there are emergency supplies. My kids have also snickered at the size of the box full of "road emergency" stuff I usually keep in the back of the car simply because it's so big and ridiculously thorough. Shovel, first-aid kit, spare shoes, jacket, gloves, scarves, candles, matches, light bars...and don't forget the Swiss Army Knife sitting in the map holder. This set of gear takes up more than half the car's storage space in back.

The emergency makeup kits are dainty by comparison, but they function as a safety net if I ever need to drop everything while grocery shopping and go meet the Queen of England. To date, I've got three. One's in a drawer in my office, one's in my locker at the Sheriff's Department next door in case I ever get motivated enough to go exercise again over the lunch hour, (ha! ha!), and one's in the glove box of my car.

I didn't foresee I was really going to need one just a few weeks ago. I hadn't gotten any calls from Buckingham Palace, and as for exercise...we'll let that one lie. But halfway through the morning at my desk I found a voicemail from my younger daughter telling me that for a bunch of reasons--none of which she was happy with--what would have been her last night at home before moving across the country was off. It hit me like a two-by-four, and it wasn't long before I was just a puddle of tears.

I'd seen her just a few days before, but had skipped a big "goodbye" because I knew I'd be seeing her, her boyfriend, the grandpug and the spare cat for an overnight in just a few days. Gave her a quick peck on the cheek, a wave and a "see you soon!" The menu was planned for her favorites, I was going to bake brownies as a surprise, you know how it goes. And now that happy evening had vanished, leaving a very big hole. A cop I work with passed by my office door just as I began to dissolve, and ended up on one knee beside me, patting my back to comfort me as I gulped out my sorrow and distress. The perfect man...but he knows who he is and so we won't embarrass him here any further.

I fled the building sobbing, and drove down to the harbor nearby, where the cold wind off Lake Michigan cooled a lot of things down. A half hour of solitude and mourning later, it was finally time to get back work. I reached in the glove box and found the makeup bag. Moisturizer, eye-liner pencil, eye shadow and brow highlighter, blush, lipstick, perfume. All in itty bitty sizes, with itty bitty applicators, along with an itty bitty mirror. I did the best I could with this Lilliputian repair kit.

But by the time I parked at the courthouse and walked back into the building to spend the rest of the afternoon in court, I had my game face on.

I could always cry it off again on the way home.

This post originally appeared on my blog. I reread it just the other day as I was redesigning my first book, "Running with Stilettos" for a third edition, and liked it so much I wanted to share!

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I'd be very interested in hearing about all that's in your Atom bomb emergency closet kit!
Enjoyed this, even if it was, a makeup make-over.
Every girl needs "kits". I actually have an emergency kit in my house for evacuation. We live near a nuclear plant on the coast of NH. And of course, there is the ready to travel kit, along with the extra sneakers and hats for just in case we stop to play golf. Thanks for some fun.