One of the loveliest and sexiest things that can be said to the right woman is: “Tell me what you want.” By Julia R. DeStefano

I was (probably) the closest I will ever come to a 1960’s s** kitten the other night.

No, really. In a stroke of genius, my hairdresser decided he was going to wrap my hair in velcro rollers, and put me under the dryer for what felt like forever. He then instructed two sets of hands to remove the rollers and pin-up my locks one-by one to ensure they would last. Imagine my surprise when one set of hands belonged to a former student of mine. She recognized me by my hair, no doubt — a sweet compliment — and received a nice education from me on how to keep copper-red bright when the passage of time has other ideas. I guess I still have a little wisdom to impart! So, my hairdresser sends me on my way [in the downpour, mind you] with a shower cap on my head. Nowadays, you never know what you’ll see, and on Thursday morning, I was a sight to behold. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a woman driving in a rainstorm with a shower cap on her head! Who knows why he did it. Maybe it’s because he slept through our original appointment (it happens). Maybe it’s because he gets these mad scientist inclinations when there’s a redhead in his chair. He did, after all, inspire the “Electric Shock at Sunset” poem. Maybe he just sensed I needed a little pampering. It’s always nice to be tried-for while listening to Stevie and Don croon “Leather and Lace.” You in the moonlight with your sleepy eyes. Could you ever love a man like me?” (Yes).

Before I met Allen (RIP) and got involved with music journalism, there was a time when I honest to God thought that I would be a makeup artist — and I was for a little while. It was fun, having control of so many colors and knowing I could replicate just about anything that was thrown at me. It was enjoyable to see the girls so happy afterwards, like I had unlocked something in them that they hadn’t been able to unleash on their own. (I wonder where my portfolio is. It must be somewhere). I remember being highly sought-after at the MAC Cosmetics counter, then Sephora. They wanted so badly to take me from freelance to regular, but I just couldn’t bring myself to make the jump — even when one of my artist idols invited me to train under her in California. I felt that education was far more reliable of a career choice. But it’s fun to look back on — how it used to be my little stop, a haven away from schoolwork where I could just create. I loved the free-standing store in Burlington, too, though it proved a little far for frequent trips. So, once I got into makeup and thought “I can actually do this,” the first look I taught myself and replicated was the playmate. The smoky eyes with the cut crease, winged eyeliner, peachy-pink glow of the cheek, and frosted lip.

In short, the 1960’s sex kitten of my girlhood dreams. I wanted to be her because she represented beauty, femininity, and strength.

But then again, I never prescribed to the idea of pinup artwork or girls as demeaning, and I know there will be women reading this who disagree. I was simply enamored by the vintage beauty and wanted to capture some of it for myself, not really understanding the immense role that inner beauty played in being beautiful at that juncture. But I also loved the attitude of the girls. I think, to have had the attitude, you had to have thought of yourself as beautiful or as “a catch,” an area in which I was lacking. I had never thought of myself as beautiful, and the men that I spent my time with back then surely didn’t help the cause. If I was “beautiful,” I was beautiful for a purpose — and we all know what that is. And then when I wouldn’t fulfill that purpose because I knew they didn’t really want the rest of me — well, you can guess where I ended up — like in the case of a certain country musician, left in some hotel in Rhode Island in the middle of the night.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on a man who makes me feel beautiful, sexy even (even when I feel far from it) and never fails to praise my intelligence and my strength, and how this differs from the proclamations of “beautiful” of my past (lives). This man even thought I was beautiful when I was 30 pounds heavier, though I hadn’t known he thought so at the time. I think that, with the right man, a woman can be a million different women depending on her mood or the circumstances of her life, and she should feel free to be. I would also argue that men can have this experience — but only with the right woman — because I tend to see relationships through the lens of “rescuing” each other and thereby, being mutually beneficial. I think that a woman should feel free enough to be a soft, vulnerable creature, a goddess, and everything in-between. All I know is that this man helps to nurture a strength and beauty in me. Isn’t it funny how I find it easier to be a goddess and “everything in-between” than I do to show my vulnerable side? But The Red Queen can be strong and exhibit weakness simultaneously. Anything less and I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be fit to wear the crown, though sometimes I ask myself: “Am I even fit to wear the crown at all?” But I know those are my demons talking. We all have them. They like to pull up a seat to the party, uninvited.

So, dear reader, you are probably thinking by now — where is she going with this story? Is this another of her stream-of-consciousness diatribes that places her squarely in the realm of the 1970’s beat poets who wrote just to write? Surely, there must be some wisdom within? Well, I’m not finished yet. I still carry that dream of being a relationship writer, like that episode of Third Rock From the Sun where they enter into a parallel universe, and Sally learns she is a hotshot relationship columnist as people run up to her in the street with their questions. I can see it now: Dear Red Queen, how do I know if it’s real?”

Painting by Victor Allen

One of the loveliest and sexiest things that can be said to the right woman is: “Tell me what you want.”

Because men have a well inside of them overflowing with treasure, just as women do. Treasure that is begging to be shared — and no, it’s not just that treasure. Now, you may ask: “Red Queen, how do I know if she is the right woman?” Oh, my dear, it’s in her smile and her kiss and the way she melts into you like the purest of chocolate. It is something you just know deep in your heart. Your mind knows it, too. But when it comes to love, the heart is a far more reliable character in your story. Is her smile innocent yet witchy? Do you get the feeling that she is an endangered species and, quite possibly, the last of her kind? Do you feel like she desires to hold you just to hold you to let you breathe and forget all the bad in your world? Do you find yourself thinking often about waking up next to her? And here’s the biggest one:

does she water your growth like a rose, thereby allowing you to heal the wounds of your past while teaching you what it means to really love and be loved?

Because I can tell you this, she feels like a part of her soul has loved you since the beginning of everything (thank you Emery Allen for articulating human feeling so perfectly) -

and do you know what she wants?

To be carried away in the power of your unique masculine presence. To feel free to unleash that soft, vulnerable creature, the ’60s s** kitten, and every woman in-between — knowing that you’ve got her.

Purrrrrrfect.

~The Red Queen

The Red Queen in her crown. YA & adult poetry. Love & relationships. I preserve moments in the glistening amber of language. #WhirlingIntoFlame now available.