Q: My step-sister has had what she called a bacterial infection on her lips off and on for about three years. I've always thought that it looked like herpes, and she told me a few days ago that a doctor did in fact say it was herpes. We have been sharing drinks and lip glosses and such for quite some time, and I have been getting worried lately because herpes are not something I'd like to have. This morning when I was getting ready I noticed a bump on my lip and I'm pretty sure its a cold sore. This is making me pretty upset. Not only do I most likely have herpes but my boyfriend will probably get it too. Now to my question: Would punching her in the face be adequate revenge?

A: Let me reiterate what you told me:

Your sister had a 3 year-long "bacterial infection". You had reason to believe it was herpes, before she herself found out it was herpes. You chose to share drinks and lip glosses with someone who you thought either had a horrible, 3 year-long bacterial face infection or herpes. After YOU chose to rub face germs with someone with the creeping face crud and/or herpes, you are blaming your potential infection on her.

Either YOU were allowing HER to use YOUR lip gloss, and drink YOUR coke, or you were asking the person with the face infection/herpes to let YOU use HER various around-the-mouth items. She never held you down and rubbed her pop can over your face, or tied you to a chair and gave you a glamour-girl makeover with her infected, herpes-plagued cosmetics. This seems like a simple failure of your self-preservation skills. In the same way you wouldn't bareback with a bum you found shooting up heroin out behind the 7-11, or make out with someone with raging mono, or drink the vomit of someone with the stomach flu, one would expect that you would also not share beverages or cosmetics with someone who has lesions of any kind on their face. Personally, even if she DIDN'T have herpes, I would probably try to avoid a 3-year face infection just as stringently. That's just me, though.

So, you tell me, who needs the sense punched into whom?

Q: I'm a bit conflicted with the idea of wearing makeup on a daily basis. On one hand it does make me feel presentable and nice, but on the other hand at the end of the day I get depressed that I have to wear shit on my face to feel good. What gives?

A: I don't really wear makeup everyday. If I get on the makeup-everyday train, I end up stuck on it for a long time, cause it makes me break out, then I have to wear makeup to cover up the zits, then I break out more, then I have to wear more makeup to cover up the zits, ad nauseam. If I have a string of places to go day after day, I wear makeup, but I wash my face off the second I get home, and maybe do a mask or something.

HOWEVER, I am a proponent of putting your best foot forward. People respect you more, and take you more seriously, if you present yourself in a nice way. You know, showered, decent outfit, a little makeup... It just makes you look like you CARE. You never know when you are going to have to make a good first impression. That being said, I assume I am not going to meet the president when I need to run to Walgreens for toilet paper, or to the neighborhood grocery store, or walking the dogs. But any time I go out to eat, or meet friends, or spend a day walking around downtown, or go shopping, or have to meet with vendors or business people, I wear makeup.

I don't think that makeup is about wearing shit on your face because you're not good enough without it. Makeup is about downplaying flaws, and playing up features of your face that are especially nice. You know, cover up a zit, put some eyeliner and mascara on. It's not about painting on new features that weren't there to begin with-- it is about making the most of what you already have, and the way you already look. Why feel BAD about having nice eyes that look good with a little green eyeshadow, or making your nice lips look nicer with a little lipstick? How does that make you have low self-esteem? I don't think it should. If anything, I think taking the time to put a little makeup on shows that you hold yourself in a high enough regard that you want to make sure that you are always polished, and putting your best face forward, even if you stayed out all last night drinking, and didn't get any sleep.

Wearing makeup is like the difference between getting a burger at a fast food restaurant, and a nice sit-down restaurant. You are having a hamburger either way, but the sit-down restaurant burger might look a little nicer, cause it is on a ceramic plate, and maybe there is a little parsley next to it, and it isn't all squished up, whereas the fast food burger is wrapped in some greasy waxed paper, and smooshed looking. The fast food burger might even taste better, but it's just not as appetizing, you feel me? You're you either way, it's just a matter of presenting yourself in a way that plays up the nice parts.

Q: Q: What's the deal with expensive shoes? Are they really that much better than regular shoes?

A: Have you ever tried walking 10 blocks in a pair of Payless pumps?

I'm not saying that expensive shoes feel like cozy slippers or anything, but they don't make you feel like you're going to die of excruciating foot agony. You're happy to take them off at the end of the day, you're just not taking them off under the table at dinner, or walking around outside barefoot with them in your hands.

There are limits, of course. I don't think expensive designer sneakers are worth it, cause regular sneakers function fine as they are. Expensive flip-flops, also not worth it, since you wouldn't want to shell out for flip-flops that are just gonna get all funky. Shoes you bum around in should just be comfortable, and leave it at that. Novelty dress shoes, that are bejeweled and some crazy color or some bizarre design are probably also not worth it, since you probably won't wear them that often.

However, if you are buying a pair of nice leather dress shoes (like pumps or whatever), that you KNOW you are buying because you are going to wear them often, you ought to look around and see if you can find some well-made, designer shoes on sale. They are more comfortable, don't wear out or look busted as quickly, and can be easily repaired or stretched at your local cobbler. PLUS, some designers will let you send the shoes in for repairs for little cost, which also is pretty awesome. Payless doesn't care if the heel breaks off your shoe, and the upper is going to detach from the sole when you're out at a party and be inconvenient. That happens a few times, and you could've just got one pair of nice shoes for less than all the cheap shoes you had to replace, and the nice ones would've still been in pretty good shape.

When people say, "You get what you pay for," they say it because it is true, you just gotta make good choices about what, exactly, is worth shelling out for.
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