It was her eyes. The extraordinarily thick, false lashes caked
with mascara. The comprehensive circles of black
liner. Painstakingly drawn on eyebrows. Lips lushly
painted with bronze. She shared advice as liberally
as she applied her coral shade of blush. Tammy Faye,
my hero. God granted her a talk show on a Christian cable channel.
She’d stand on her faux veranda, studio lights drooping,
and speak to us, her TV viewing audience and the semi-live senior
citizens bussed in from nearby retirement homes, their wheelchairs pushed
up to the patio tables, walkers scattered about the false flagstones.
Tammy taught us to tie scarfs in fetching fashions, make desserts
using Cool Whip, and extolled the virtues of penile implants.
“Ladies,” she’d admonish, “never let your husbands see you without
make up. I go to bed with Jim in full face. Set the alarm for two
so I can get up. Wash. Reapply. I’m daisy fresh when he opens
his peepers.” Rushing home from college classes, Michael and I
would sit in a knot, eating chili and Coconut Chocolate Chips Ahoy,
our eyes, Venus for her puffed, sandy hair, our strikingly colorless souls,
saved by channel 67.