“Hold deet!” the security guard bellows, hand perched over his gun. “Stet your destiny and the nurture of your bushiness!”

I’m standing in the lobby of a bank at closing time trying to figure out where the M.A.C. makeup party is supposed to meet. I’m alarmed, not so much by the officer approaching, but by his odd accent.

Frozen in my steps, I try to figure out what my destiny is but am at a loss. I can say for sure, however, the “nurture of my bushiness” is the reason I’m here for a free makeover.

“I’m looking for the M.A.C. shindig,” I reply.

“Shin-diggy bin-piggy,” the guard says rather slowly, carefully annunciating each syllable, “deur no body dat way heur.”

A woman peers out of a doorway down the hall and waves at me. “It’s okay, Decker,” she calls. “Let her in.”

Decker backs the “deck” off, and I pass him sideways, making sure he doesn’t pull a taser gun on me.

“You’re early,” the woman says as I enter the brightly decorated room. “Have a seat; the party’s not scheduled until after 5:30.”

After thumbing through every magazine on the table, I begin to wonder how long I’ve been waiting. My watch shows almost an hour has passed. A few other women come in and sit together on the far side of the room in a tight little group like they’re paper dolls cut from one sheet of paper all holding hands.

I lift my right elbow and sniff my armpit, wondering why no one sits at my table.

When I’m sure any minute now the guy in a three-piece suit will walk over and slap an anniversary pin on my chest for waiting so long, someone announces, “It’s time to shred!”

I hadn’t thought of a makeover in terms of “shredding,” but I guess one could think of it like that — one’s identity stripped away.

“Super!” the lady says and claps her hands like she’s teaching a kindergarten class. “Let’s get started now.”

I’m looking at the door on the other side of the room and wishing I could somehow slip out unnoticed, when bouncing between tables like a ping pong ball gone astray, the lady makes her way over to me.

She bends down into my face and whispers, “My, my, look at these hedges you’ve got for eyebrows! We need to mow those ‘bushies’ down before we can shape them up and pencil them in.”

REEK! Her horrible-smelling breath smacks me like a cabinet door left open. “Gee, a Tic-tac anyone, please?” I desperately want to shout, but bite my tongue.

“Do we have to mow them down?” I ask, like she’s a dentist ready to drill my teeth.

“Yes, we do. Bring me the clippers!” Reeky (I’ll call her) says to her assistant.

ZIP, ZIP! Little hairs fall like snowflakes down my cheeks and stick to my lip gloss. When Reeky’s finished, I look like I’ve been attacked by a porcupine.

Then Reeky uses a blow-dryer to clean as much hair off as she can before she begins applying layer after layer of makeup until my face feels like it has gained five pounds.

“What do you think?” Reeky asks, handing me a mirror.

I almost scream when I see a Gina-version of Ronald McDonald looking back at me in the mirror. My bushy eyebrows have been reduced to commas.

To get out the door without Reeky dragging behind me holding my ankles, I spend roughly a month’s salary on cosmetics I will never use.

“Hold deet!” Decker bellows. “Stet your destiny and the nurture of your bushiness!”

He obviously doesn’t recognize me, and I laugh out loud when I realize even I don’t recognize myself.

“It’s me again, just leaving the party,” I reply. “Can you watch me until I make it to my car?”

Decker agrees, and I lock the door as I get in.

Home, I leave my bag of goods on the table and head for the shower to wash away the product of three wasted hours and five pounds of goo.

“Have you taken a second job as a streetwalker?” Spouser asks, glaring over the edge of his newspaper at me as I pass by.

Thinking of Decker’s question about destiny, I can say now that after this experience my destiny is to remain bushy and never be shredded again.

Gina Tiano is the author of Life in the Bike Lane, available at Amazon.com. Post your comment on this column at www.valleytowncrier.com.

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