I had barely escaped the clutches of the super salesman who tried to sell me creams and lotions that would make my skin smooth and remove all that old flaky stuff that made me look old. With bright and hopeful eyes, he stared into mine as his deft hands cleverly massaged the sample onto my dry, liver spotted arm.
"Where are you from?" he inquired in a tone that led me to believe he really cared where I was from. The salon into which he had persisted in drawing me from the busy outdoor mall, was quite glamorous. The air conditioning was a nice relief from the hot sun and dust of the street. Mirrors abounded as did sheek, crisp, white leather furniture. Shiny chrome added the final touch.
After telling him where I was from and elaborating just a bit, he smiled and directed my gaze at my arm.
"Feel it," he insisted.
Well, I felt it all right and told him it felt smooth.
""Feel the other arm," he commanded. His voice had become less charming and more firm.
"Yes," I agreed, there is a difference. One arm had lotion on it and the other didn't.
Soon he was pulling tubes and jars from a thick, impeccably clean glass shelf, assuring me that just for me, and just today, he would include these items for free. He pulled out a fancy, small tote bag, the kind not seen in any store I would frequent, and began putting various creams, oils and lotions into it.
He looked at me with deep, blue eyes. "You understand, this is just the beginning. I don't want to overwhelm you at this point. These items are only $195, but with the free gifts, including this little patent leather tote, the value is well over $900."
I tried to swallow without him noticing. Up until now I had never spent more than $25 on any cream or other cosmetic.
But he went on. He looked with a gaze reminiscent of Rodan's "The Thinker" as he viewed the items on a higher shelf.
"These," he said with meaning, "are the creme-de-la-cr�me. When you are ready, I will offer them to you, but not before."
The words placenta and stem-cells were smoothly intertwined into his sales pitch and I tried without success to question them. He quickly overrode my faint objections with:
"These products are totally natural, no animal testing, all without preservatives."
He did not even look at me when the amounts of $2,000 to $3,000 were mentioned. I was obviously not ready yet. But there was hope.
Did I look rich? Did I look like I could possibly afford this kind of luxury. Was it so important for me to have smooth skin? Had he not noticed that I had spent my many years in the sun and sand and hardly ever used anything except an occasional slap of Pond's cold cream? Was it not obvious to him that this skin was way past the hopeless stage, as was my budget?
Sitting in the well cushioned, high-tech barstool, looking at all those mirrors, chrome and white leather, as well as deftly placed real white orchids, I imagined myself pulling out an imaginary platinum American Express card and to the salesman's shock and surprise, bought every single jar and tube on that shelf.
That thought made me smile.
"How do you choose to pay?" he said. It was not as much a question as a foregone conclusion that I would buy the package.
"Oh," I said with surprising amusement, "I must think it over."
That's when World War Three erupted. After a full-blown temper tantrum, the salesman finally kicked me out of the fancy salon. I felt terrible and was sure what had been a pleasant Sunday walk on the Mall would end up as a total emotional disaster.
I threw the little unopened sample he had first given me before I entered the salon, into the nearest waste basket. Suddenly I felt the urge to use the bathroom. I popped into a nearby department store and went in the ladies room.
Fumbling for tissues in my purse, I found a shiny, laminated card with the phone number and logo of "Ermine and Lace" Beauty Magic.
I felt Mount Vesuvius erupt in my soul. What could douse this terrible feeling? Then I knew.
I pulled out a permanent black marker and scribbled that phone number on the bathroom wall. Then I threw the card in the overflowing wastebasket.
The number looked surprisingly fitting among the four letter words and sexually implicit remarks already there. I was convinced it was a far more dreadful symbol than the most crude graffiti found on any wall, indoors or out.
I left the store feeling lighter, stronger. My skin is still wrinkled and speckled, but my tolerance level for graffiti, good or bad, has grown tremendously.