Boyfriend, Shmyler, and I decided to check out camping gear for a trip to a music festival. Just on the outskirts of the main festival area, we would join thousands of other music like-ers on a vast plot of grass, sleeping in L.L. Bean tents and urinating in portable toilets (Wild II, anyone?). We struggled to refer to this as actual "camping," but we were excited about sleeping outside. So we wanted to look into some tents and shit.
And look into tents and shit, we did.
But we didn't buy anything. Really. I, who once spent $15 on hair gel with bits of lemon in it--bits of lemon that promised "locks of blonde hair by beach season" but really just made my head smell like a yellow jellybean--didn't buy anything from the tantalizing out-door aisle. Thought I was tempted, I did not purchase the Mount Everest-tested sleeping bag that could withstand an avalanche and the claws of an adolescent bear. I did not take home the eight-person tent that came with its own porch and dinner table. My secret? Well, Shmyler wouldn't let me.
"Fine," I said, "but we should look into getting a tent later. For future camping trips."
"Okay. Another time we will do that."
"Maybe when they go on sale. Please put the sleeping bag back on the shelf."
The truth is, I haven't changed--not much. I only avoid ridiculous spending when Shmyler is with me. He is many things to me: partner, scheduler, traffic guard, phone-finder, news-source, among others. But Financial Adviser is his most frequent honor/punishment for choosing to date me. If he hadn't been present at that Sports Authority, I'd have brought home a small base camp. He argued that we needed lunch meat more than a portable fortress so we did that instead.
He was not, however, in my company when I recently visited a luxury soap store named Sabon. Sabon is a place where the sales reps are hypnotically charming and are full of shit--beautiful, fragrant shit that smells like fields of lavender and high self-esteem. I was doomed the moment I spotted their discounted gift baskets from the sidewalk.
"LET'S GO THERE," I said to my friend Kyle, who was looking to buy a housewarming gift. Luxury soap store = fuck-fest of housewarming gifts.
As we walked in, two reps greeted us immediately. One of them was tying an apron around the waste of the other. I was intrigued by this, because it either meant that the woman getting her apron tied on could not tie a bow, or she couldn't touch her apron with her own hands. This made them seem professionally mysterious; my sucker-brain thought, Ooh, they have to help each other put on aprons, ooh, how collaborative.
The store had many smells, but none too abrasive. Everything from the soaps to the light fixtures and shelving units looked expensive and hand-made by Polish farmers who summer in Narnia. What struck a chord most was a large and circular brass faucet in the center of the store. As I looked at it, I remembered that I had actually been here before.
Sabon's schtick is that they guide you through a five-product hand washing routine that makes your skin feel like the ass cheek of a fucking newborn. This leaves rubes like me with no choice but to buy buy buy. The only reason I know this is because Shmyler has a friend who works at the store in another part of the city.
"Have you two been here before?" The first sales rep asked, the apron tie-er having since disappeared to the back.
"I think so!" I said. "Can we wash our hands?"
"Oh! Well... yes, come right this way," she said, somewhat surprised. This guy's making my job easy, she probably thought.
Kyle looked apprehensive, but I ignored him and rolled up my sleeves.
Sales Lady positioned us around the faucet so that we were each in front of our own pedal-operated spouts. We wet our hands and she squirted our palms with various lotions, soaps, and exfoliates. As we washed, the she chattered on like a docile bird. With an unidentifiable accent, she spoke in a tone that made me feel both comforted and consoled, though I didn't know what I was being consoled for. By the fourth rinse, she procured an Arabian looking pot with a light blue substance inside.
"Now this one," she said, smearing my palm with a blue cream, "is our specialty. It's a face polisher made form mint and lemon, which is a very good herbal combination. It's great for evening out your skin tone and making you a better person in general."
She didn't say that last part, but that's what I heard.
"Oh woow," I said.
"Yes, it's our specialty," she said again. "When I put it on, I feel as though my face can... breathe."
Not for nothing, my hands did feel ridiculously smooth. Even Kyle was nodding in agreement.
As I rinsed my hands off yet again, I noticed that the small "exfoliates" in the cream had painlessly removed my hangnails, which made me feel like I just watched myself perform a magic trick I didn't know was coming. Oh mhmm, I thought, this is both luxurious and useful. I was enchanted with the magical face polish, and asked myself if I should take it home, even though "face polish" sounds like a phrase made up at the end of the day by a marketer who just wanted to go home.
|Le face polisheur|
I stalled my decision by informing Sales Lady that my friend needed a gift.
"Oh lovely!" She beamed. "What are you looking for?"
"I don't know, maybe a candle," he said. "Like the ones in the window?"
"Perfect, yes, those are our specialty."
I was under the impression that face polish was their specialty but whatever. Who says you can't have multiple specialties?
"OH, yes, yes," she said again. "Come look at these. This one is nice, right?" She uncapped a glass cup to reveal a blue candle inside that was named, Mysterious Water. The name was idiotic, but she was right. The scent was indeed, mysterious, and... watery. Kyle said "Sure," and decided to buy it.
"Do you gift-wrap?" he asked.
"Oh, yes. Yes, it's our specialty."
Apparently this was an multi-talented establishment that only accepted specialty-level service across the board.
"Now," Sales Lady said looking at me, "what about something for you?"
After see-sawing for three seconds, I said, "Face polish! I would like polish for my face. Where is it."
"Right here, oh it's right here." For a moment, I heard Shmyler's voice in my head, suggesting that maybe $40 for a jar of something that might not be a real thing is an unwise purchase. But it was too late. I had already lathered and rinsed in the Kool-Aid.
Kyle and I brought our items to the counter, where a cashier began to wrap the candle. We both watched in confusion as she tied one ribbon around the box and handed it back. "Specialty," was a loosely used term in this place, and I lost some respect and love for Sales Lady. Though, not enough to put the face polish back on the shelf. I bought that shit. I bought that shit right quick.
"Sucker," Kyle said.
"This is for me and Shmyler!" I protested.
"BullSHIT," he yelled unnecessarily, "You got that crap for you and you know it."
"Okay, I did, but he may use it. In fact, I'll encourage him to use it, because we are a team and I am doing this for us."
"That's just sad," she said, looking down at his $26 "wrapped" candle.
When I got home, I immediately got in the shower and used the face polish. In my excitement, I accidentally got some in my mouth and swallowed it, which made my esophagus close up a little. And in case you were wondering, it didn't make my face feel like it could "breathe." It did, however, make my skin feel cool as if there were a small person blowing on my face at eye level. I'd say this was a successful purchase then, considering how much more expensive it would be to hire a live-in face blower. #win