“One A.M.,” I answered, and my father said we were going to bed. We hadn’t watched the whole movie and only knew that it starred Walt Disney and was about a kitten named Pluto who had his own private spaceship. But when my father went directly upstairs after turning off the television, I didn’t know if my parents were upset with me for staying up so late or whether they’d just wanted to avoid another argument over what time we should be in bed or why Peter Pan was such a bad character.
My mother loved getting dressed up for parties—she took great pride in her appearance and always wore makeup even though she was generally too tired from work to do much more than apply lip gloss at night (and sometimes not even then). She would spend hours making herself look beautiful: applying eyeliner around her eyes, darkening her eyebrows with pencil, contouring beneath her cheekbones with foundation; when she finally put on lipstick—a bright shade of red called “Gingerbread” by Dior (I wasn’t allowed to wear this color because it clashed with my skin tone)—it looked like roses petals stuck between pieces of candy cane. My mother’s hair could have been mistaken for one belonging to someone else entirely: instead of being parted down the middle as our mothers did, hers flowed loosely across her shoulders until everyone thought she hadn’t bothered doing anything different other than putting some gel in it before leaving home.