My philosophy when it comes to skincare used to be all about being natural, i.e. doing nothing, back when I could get away with it, back when I was 16, 17, 18, 19 and my skin was tighter, smoother, less blotchy. The only products in my then pacifist-hippie beauty non-proliferation arsenal were Johnson and Johnson Baby Oil, shampoo and a jar of Carmex. But, that was then.
Now? I have issues that, yes, need to be addressed – renewed, replaced, resurfaced. And, yes, I attend to these little areas with products that I deem worthy. And I purchase said products based solely on two thing – scent (none, or a hint of citrus) and packaging (classic, clean lines without being sterile). I have my preferred products, which I never deviate from. So why did I get sucked into a beauty-product wormhole? Easy. I was a pint light.
“Excuse me? Ma’am? Would you mind?”
He was a semi-swarthy version of Gerard Butler, with an unidentifiable accent (additional cuteness points) who beckoned me to sit in one of his empty bar-type stools that stood around his kiosk-cart situated in the heavily trafficked right-of-way in one of Milwaukee’s upscale malls.
Normally, I would have pretended not to hear him, or would have not made eye contact, or would have made sure I had had my crazy face on – a scowl, eyes darting from side to side – a look that says to passers by, “I am off my meds! Stay away!” But not on that day, because, I was a tad woozy after just donating whole blood, and I was rewarding myself with a trip to Sephora for Clinique Sunblock, SPF 30, for the face, $17.00, when I got sucked into his hottie-hawking-skincare-products tractor beam.
“Please . . . could you remove your glasses?”
The last time an attractive guy asked me to do that? I think Jimmy Carter was President and I drove a green Vega.
“Are you happy with your face?” he asked.
“Happy with my face?” What kind of question was that? No, I wasn’t happy with my face and I haven’t been ever since I turned 9, and was often asked if I was Woody Allen’s sister, but I’ve made peace with it and at this point in my life? Who really cares?
“May I ask you, your age?”
I usually lie about my age. I add five years, because that way, no matter how bad I look, people are always impressed, but like I said, my blood level was down, and I couldn’t think fast enough.
“55,” I said.
He began to dab a cream around my eyes.
“Let me ask you, this,” he said, “Don’t you care about your skin?” Dab. Dab. Dab.
I wasn’t wearing any makeup, not even my basic eyebrows-and-lipstick-package, “Do I look like I care?” I said.
“Ah, come on, now! You are woman? No?”
Oh. My. God. He had to ask?
He held up a mirror, “You see, the difference? Left eye? Right eye?”
“Well . . . not really. I mean, left eye, right eye? They both look the same. Puffy. Droopy.”
“No. There is definite difference.” He took away the mirror.
“Let me ask another question. Do you like your laugh lines? Those deep, deep, lines around your mouth? You like those? You want those?”
“I do. Well, they are laugh lines, meaning, they come from laughing. Now, if they were called widow’s lines or my-dog-just-died lines, then, maybe–”
“Please. Stop. Be serious,” he said. I apologized even though, I was being serious.
“How much do you spend on your current skin care?”
“Nothing,” I said.
“Don’t be funny. You spend money. You have a bag from Sephora. Let me see the receipt.”
“I’m not going to show you my receipt! If you must know, I spent $17. On sunblock. And the other stuff I use? The moisturizer, a toner, a cleanser? Those I get for Christmas, and they last me until my birthday in August and then I get another batch as a gift, so there.”
“But you do use product. Right? You do care about your skin. Let me ask you why? You want to look like you don’t care, but, you do. Why do you think you do that?”
Good question. Why do I apply moisturizer and toner and cleanse with specially formulated cleanser, and then sometimes chemically slough off the top-most layer of my epidermis? Why? Um . . . it can’t be because I want to stave off aging (I’m a realist!) or that I’m vain and want to maintain my beauty, because, I was never considered to be a beauty or a stunner. Hardly. I was The Girl With The Good Personality. The best friend of the head-turners. The Midge to their Barbie.
My best guess?
“Um, because, I want to look . . . uh, you know . . . not bad?” I winced because I didn’t have a good answer.
“Exactly! And don’t you want the best?”
Oh no. That was the wind-up and then came the pitch. This cream he had dabbed underneath my left (or was it right eye?) Pretty much the 8th Wonder of the World. He said something about the Dead Sea, blah, blah, blah, minerals, blah, blah, blah, elements, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. I don’t know what he said. I was too busy thinking about an exit strategy.
“Cut to the chase,” I said. “How much?”
“What? Are you insane?” I said.
He got out his calculator and broke it down to a daily amount. I scoffed.
“You go to Starbucks?” he asked.
“Out to dinner?”
“You have cable?”
“No, my husband doesn’t believe in cable.”
He gave me back the mirror, flipped it over to the magnifying side.
“Look at the difference between the eyes! Can’t you see it?”
“Well, you know what would impress the hell out of me?” I said.
“What?” he said.
“If I looked in this mirror, and the face looking back at me looked like Charlize Theron’s.”
“How about $70?” he said. “I let you have it today, for half price. Just today. Only for you. Because . . . because . . . I like you.”
“No, you don’t,” I said.
“No, you don’t.”
He shrugged. I was getting tired and bored. My exit strategy? The truth.
“Listen . . . it’s been fun, really, but, I need to eat something.”
I got off the stool, took my glasses, my Sephora bag and started to leave.
“Wait!” He shouted after me. “Take it.”
“Yes. Take this. Here. Just take it. I am giving it to you.”
The very same product that five minutes ago was $140? He was willing to part with for nothing? I must have some kind of juju. For the record, I didn’t take it. I couldn’t. It smelled like a funeral.
And, and more importantly, the packaging sucked.