Missing lipstick, an ex-Prime Minister and me

On Friday night, I had the privilege of attending a fundraising event – the 86th Annual Boat Race Gala –  in support of creating scholarships to send Canadian students to Cambridge and Oxford universities. The event featured guest of honour, former Canadian Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Paul Martin. A scholarship was created in the name of Mr. Martin’s father (also named Paul Martin), who was a Cambridge graduate – also a remarkable Canadian. It was an evening to celebrate.

Hosted and organized by the Oxford and Cambridge Society of Toronto, which comprises alumni from the respective universities, the gala was well-attended by dignitaries, business leaders and many others. Also in attendance (although I didn’t see him) was former Prime Minister, John Turner.

After spending the day at previous engagement, Ignite ‘n’ Connect, where I had the honour of introducing keynote speaker Rona Maynard, former editor of Chatelaine, and led discussions on how women entrepreneurs can get publicity and raise their profiles in the media, I was ready to let my hair down — literally.

Shannon Skinner photographed with Christine Platt, founder, artVentures

Yep, that's me with long hair, photographed with Christine Platt, founder, artVentures, at the 86th Annual Boat Race Gala

Just prior to the gala, a brief stop at my hair salon enabled my hair to miraculously grow six inches in about 45 minutes. Armed with a brand new MAC lipstick that I recently purchased and donning a violet silk dress, I felt ready to take on the world.

I also felt inspired, and humbled, to be part of a mix of highly educated, well-heeled people who are raising funds to send Canadians to these distinguished universities. I had the privilege of attending the creative writing program for the summer at Oxford University a few years ago. It was one of the best things that has happened to me — and I would love for others to have a similar experience. So, I wanted to do my part to give back.

In the Royal York Hotel’s ballroom, everything was perfect: the speakers, the decor. However, after dinner, I found myself in a swirl of a crisis: I discovered my new trusty lipstick was – gasp – missing from my clutch bag.

MAC lipstick and Shannon Skinner

photo credit: MAC cosmetics

If there is one pet peeve I have it is this: losing a new lipstick (I only wear MAC) and having to replace it, because this means I have to pay twice for the same thing. And, hey, MAC lipstick isn’t cheap. But more than the cost, it means I have to take precious time out of my day to go back to a store, making the trip twice — doubling my efforts. Plus, I usually end up buying something else I likely don’t need, but, I digress.

Okay, so this is not a catastrophe or a crisis that will end the world, but it annoys me. On the flip side, I also know I’ve contributed to helping people living with HIV/AIDS, with MAC’s special Viva Glam line that raises money for the cause ($900 million, apparently), so there is a benefit.

Back to the story…

Where’s my lipstick?!!…

So, after dinner I was on the hunt for MAC Viva Glam V, certain it tumbled out of my clutch and was lying on the floor just waiting for me to find it. On my path, as my eyes searched the carpeted floor for the little black tube in the shape of an over-sized bullet, were a big pair of very nice shoes. When I looked up, waaay up, attached to the shoes stood the man who made news for years and whose face I knew well: former Prime Minster, Paul Martin. Up until this moment, he was surrounded by other guests. Now here I was, a bit surprised that I — suddenly — had him all to myself.

Feeling a sense of panic, I did what any extroverted-introvert –or a shy extrovert — would do: I introduced myself.

I didn’t know what to say, really. So I told Mr. Martin about my platform Extraordinary Women TV, how it is the first-of-a-kind show in Canada, that I’ve interviewed more than 130 women, mostly Canadian, so far. His smile stretched from ear-to-ear, he then reached out his hand and shook mine with the kind of energy that said something like: That’s great! I’m proud you — kinda like a dad might do.

I quickly remembered to not put myself on a pedestal, or the fall will be painful, and that I must immediately humble myself. So, my thoughts returned to my lost lipstick. Suddenly feeling self-conscious, I realized I must not have had any lipstick on, likely having consumed what I did have on my lips along with my meal. Without lipstick, I felt naked standing in front of one of our country’s former leaders.

Where’s my lipstick?!!…

My eyes glanced back to the floor around Mr. Martin’s feet, just in case it was there.

No sign of MAC Viva Glam V.

Now, I know from experience that people in Mr. Martin’s position are in great demand and usually when people approach them it is because they want something from them; either their time or money, or they want to chew them out. Not that there is anything wrong with that, because, well, that’s how we get things done.

Instead, while I had our former Prime Minister in my orbit, my intuition told me to say just two small words that summed up my gratitude for what he has done for Canadians, for my family and for me. So, I said: “Thank you.”

Mr. Martin’s body language told me he felt relaxed (probably more like phew, she’s not hitting me up for anything or wanting to tell me off) and he just smiled and told me he appreciated it, and off he went to speak with other guests.

And so, my search continued for my lipstick.

In the end, I never did find my lipstick. But, I did get a lesson. And the lesson was this: everything happens for a perfectly good reason. Looking for missing lipstick just might land you in the orbit of a world leader.

Have you had any interesting stories about losing, or finding, lipstick?