Part One (Rebecca Wiener)
Part Two (John Gruen)
Part Three (Tess Lynch)
Part Four (Jess Grose)
And now, Part Five.
Eat Your Makeup
by Molly Young
The advertisements for Teen Wish Co. appeared monthly in Seventeen magazine. I would buy the magazine at a newsstand, squirrel it up to my room (away from jeering brothers) and then flip through the pages one-by-one with a laser focus, waiting to get to the right page.
sweet forbidden bounty of cosmetic treasures
Teen Wish Co. was a mail-order business that sold products like pewter jewelry, mood rings (in five shapes: oval, star, peace sign, heart or ‘froggy’), mood lipsticks, nail polish, kissing manuals, perfumes, deluxe makeup kits and get-rich-quick pamphlets. It was everything that a fourteen-year old girl might want that her parents (‘rents, I should say) wouldn’t allow her to get. Teen Wish Co. also sold grab bags; illustrated on the page, naturally, as gift boxes with floating question marks.
“Dead + Rural” — Handsome Furs (mp3)
COLLEGE! (the author is still in it)
I knew little about the company apart from its Orwellian name. It was located in Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania. There was a 1-800 number that rang interminably. One summer I dialed it at least ten times a day, trying to get through, but I never did. There was also a non-functioning website. You could send payment by check or money order, although I always sent cash.
“So we type on, Mollys against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”
After a few successful orders, there was one time when I didn’t receive my package. I decided to forge a letter to the company. I sat down at the computer and created a fake letterhead, then wrote that I was a lawyer whose daughter had ordered merchandise from Teen Wish Co and hadn’t received it. “If my daughter’s order is not mailed immediately,” I typed, “Teen Wish Co will be liable to charges of fraud.” I signed the letter with an inscrutable signature and mailed it off.
“Molly appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. She surveyed the fence and all gladness left her, a deep melancholy settled down upon her spirit.”
Well! One week later, a large box arrived (bigger than a breadbox.) There was no explanation or apology; nor did the box contain my order for stackable lip gloss pots and a tattoo necklace. Instead, it was stuffed with everything Teen Wish Co. offered: piles of pamphlets to hide in my closet, dozens of lipsticks not to wear, cases of blush that gave me a mottled rash. I extracted each item with slow delectation.
“All women live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that Mollys realize the silent, subtle, ever present perils of life.”
“Dead Reckoning” — Clint Mansell (mp3)
“Cherry” — Ratatat (mp3)
There is a puzzling epilogue to this incident, which is that Teen Wish Co. never ran another advertisement in Seventeen. It was gone. I thought that maybe it would reappear in epsilon magazines like YM or Teen People, the way that you can still buy Fruitopia drinks at weird grocery stores. But I also like to think that a whole nation of jilted girls had forged letters like mine, and forced Teen Wish Co. into oblivion.
Molly Young was created when the This Recording server accidentally spliced itself with an old VHS copy of Weird Science we had lying around and one of our twenty-eight copies of Catcher In The Rye. The happy result was a wry, spry, California dream with shades of Susan Sontag. She is a writer living in Providence, RI.
“Molly is spastic in time, has no control over where she is going next, and the trips aren’t necessarily fun. She is in a constant state of stage fright, she says, because she never knows what part of her life she is going to have to act in next.”
Be sure to check out all the other tales of formative pain, heartbreak, and humiliation in our Adolescence Series.
“The Man That Got Away” — Jeff Buckley (mp3)
“Kanga Roo” — Jeff Buckley (mp3)
“She was Mo, plain Mo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Mola in slacks. She was Molly at school. She was Molores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Molita.”
PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING
The great lovers will always be unhappy.
Arthur Miller disowned his down-syndrome son.
Nessa Hudgens was like, “Britney ain’t got shit on me betches!”