It was Valentine’s Day.
I went to work on a dusty ranch and bought Spenser. The sun was blazing hot and though we were slathered in sun screen, I got some color; I’m always worried about a crepey decolletage. As a Valentine’s Day gift, production got us an ice cream truck. Yes, I was a little surprised at how handsome the man who asked for our order was… S ordered a chocolate ice cream cone with sprinkles. (the story of the handsome ice cream man ends here.)
We were sweaty, dirty and windblown by the time we left, late afternoon. And I was covered with more chocolate ice cream than my son. Traffic kept us in the car for over an hour and S fell asleep. When S woke up we were near the mall. He was cranky and restless and I was sick of driving. I hadn’t bought him a Valentine’s gift yet. My mother had always bought us gifts. I wanted to do that too. “Wanna go home or to the mall?” I asked, knowing my boy would say the mall…
My plan was to go to the toy store and buy him some little figurine he wanted and then go home for dinner. I knew I might be tempted to eat out at the mall (and drop another $20) so I made a home dinner plan in my head. I was stressing a little about the added expense on my credit card. I could keep the gift under $20, I was pretty sure.
We walked through the outdoor mall as cool breezes tried to refresh us from our long, hot day. We pointed at stores and talked about the times we’d been here before.
On the way to the toy store, a man handed me a moisturizer sample from a skin care store I’d neither seen nor heard of. “For you,” he said. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“Me?” I asked, feeling so gross and tired from sun and dirt and… mommy-ing, that I was surprised I was worthy of the sample. The man nodded and I walked towards him to take my offering. As I walked closer, another man swooped in. He was very tall, dark and handsome.
“May I show you another sample?” the new handsome guy asked with an accent, already guiding me into the store.
OK. I know this drill. I know this routine. I know the hard sell and I know how to say NO! I know how to get out in time and how to stay closed off. But I like samples. I could just go in and see what this was all about, get another sample and leave. Spenser is my get out card. No problem.
The handsome man led me to a chair in a well but softly lit room. I sat down with Spenser on my lap as the handsome man talked fast. He went on and on about my aging skin and the dryness and collagen and stem cells in this cream. He dabbed a tiny amount of cream on his long, masculine fingers and then massaged my under eyes.
When I say massaged my under eyes, I can’t quite explain how this small gesture felt. Though the touch was very light, I felt embraced and relaxed thorough my whole body. The hard sell continued and I didn’t care. “What kind of skin care do you use now?” He asked in his accent from somewhere.
I really couldn’t think clearly. He was still touching my face so gently and yet so assuredly. It felt so good. I felt fuzzy. “Um, I just use… Egyptian Magic.”
I haven’t bought real skin care in maybe 5 years. My sister gives me some sometimes, but I’ve been so keenly aware of harsh chemicals and EWG approved products (and yes, because I don’t ever spend money on myself anymore- except an occasional haircut) I’ve been using things like Trader Joe’s $5.99 coconut oil, Argan oil and Egyptian Magic which is a combo of olive oil, bee wax and royal jelly. And yes, I’ve noticed my eye area is really aging. Am I crow’s feeting, sagging and puffing more rapidly because I’m getting older or would I be getting the same results if I’d been using my old products?
I used to use ReVive. One jar of moisturizer would cost as much as $250. I swore by it. But this was when I wasn’t buying diapers and paying for two health insurances and the occasional Valentine’s Day figurine.
The handsome man nodded at my skin care routine, but didn’t say anything too judgey. He continued to gently caress my under eyes and the the meat of my eye apples, as he said in a strange yet raw way. “Where are you from?” he asked as he smoothed in the cream.” He listened and smiled and told me how he was new to the area but really loved it here.
I felt cooler and cleaner with every stroke of his strong, soft finger. The handsome man pulled back to look at me. “Wow,” he said.
My whole body just melted into my chair.
“Wow,” he said again.
It wasn’t a normal Wow your skin looks great. It was soft and gentle – it was an intimate Wow. It was a Wow, you are so beautiful. It was a Wow, I see deep into your soul. Wow, I could make love to you all night. OK. Well. It wasn’t weird or sexual… it just felt appreciative. He handed me a mirror. “Look, look at the difference.”
I still saw my deep lines.
“Don’t make any expression. You can see the results better if you don’t make expression.”
Well, duh, I thought. Spenser wiggled off of my lap and went to look at the lovely fountain with rocks against the wall.
I was back to reality. Handsome eye cream man was selling me stuff – he was good at it and I wasn’t going to buy it! I had to get up and leave and go buy Spenser’s little figurine!
“Watch how it works on your mouth lines,” he said, gently caressing my cheek. His touch made all thoughts leave my head.
I was putty again. What was wrong with me? Were they blasting Xanax though the vents?
Spenser threw a rock in the fountain. Everybody looked. I didn’t even care. Let the kid have fun. Keep rubbing my face, Sir.
“Wow,” handsome man said again… in that way, looking at my smile lines. It was a short, quiet Wow, almost like his breath was taken away. “The lines are just vanishing, see.” He held the mirror close to my face again. “Don’t make any expression.”
Now, for some reason, this time I started to see how this stuff was instantly making me look amazing. It was like he was airbrushing me… that or I was being brainwashed.
Handsome eye cream man was swarthy and stood at about 6’3″ with a perfect build; slender and strong. He was dressed in a nice clean white shirt, with the top button open. His boots looked expensive. He smelled ever so slightly of cigarettes – not in a strong offensive way, but just enough that I imagined he was out drinking and clubbing the night before. His eyebrows were waxed and trimmed (much neater than mine) and his skin, was smooth and flawless, of course. But his teeth… F’d up. Most notably one front bottom tooth stuck up about half a tooth taller than the rest. I guess it gave him character. I couldn’t stop staring at the tooth as he wiped more creams on me.
Spenser came back and go onto my lap.
“And when you get these,” Handsome eye cream man said of the products, “I will throw in this exfoliating cleanser.” Now he was rubbing my arms with sh*t. I really didn’t even know what it was. I didn’t care. I wasn’t really listening. I knew I wasn’t buying it so I was just going to enjoy. The effect was almost as good as a full body massage.
I became self conscious of my arm hair as Handsome moved my arms. Then he put his hand behind Spenser, just in case there was a loss of balance, just to make sure Spenser didn’t fall. Well, I wasn’t going to buy this stuff from him, but maybe I loved him.
“So, let me tell you about the price,” my new boyfriend said, like the super speedy salesman he was. He rattled off a lot of things that weren’t numbers like: organic so there’s no shelf life, lasts two years, throw this in for free, ingredients like LaMer, amazing results, I want you to have it… he went on…
Get up now! I told myself. Walk out! Say Spenser is starving! NOW IS YOUR CHANCE… MOVE! Why is Spenser being so patient?
But I didn’t move. Oh, God. I kind of wanted to buy this stuff! I kind of needed it! It was going to erase and lift my eye lines and puffiness. I’ve been waiting for this…
“Usually $400 for each…” I heard him say. But before I could react he added, “but I’m going to offer them to you today for $400 for both.”
I was too relaxed to say Spenser is starving, or Spenser has a big load in his diaper or whatever excuse I could pin on him. I didn’t need an excuse. “I can’t. I really can’t afford that,” I said calmly and honestly. I stood up as he showed me more free things he’d throw in.
I hugged my amazing child who was calmly waiting to go get his Valentine’s gift.
“I understand,” he said, and continued to talk about what a great deal it was and how I would look so amazing if I was using it and how it would last 2 years so it was a great value. Strangely, he didn’t lose his cool nor did he ever get obnoxiously pushy. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he was SUPER pushy… but in such a soft, calm, gentle way. Maybe because he also listened to me. He never talked over me and he really made all his sales pitches seem like he was just thinking of them after listening to me.
“I really can’t,” I heard myself say. “I’m a single mom.”
“Oh,” he said in the same tone as Wow…. like a deep, understanding and appreciation of my strength and beauty. There was a slight flash in his eyes (or so I imagined) and I think he was moved. Was he raised by a single mom? Was I just too far gone into handsome eye cream man world?
“I’m going to give you this at my cost,” he said, sotto voce… “Now I mean it. This is my cost. They would be really mad at me if they knew I was doing this for you, so don’t tell anyone I’m giving you this price.” He opened the cash register and pulled out a Visa receipt. It was for an $800 sale of two $400 creams, thus PROVING that he was giving me the mother of all deals. ”I’m not joking here,” he told me. “This is what we sell it for. And I’m going to give you these for $200, for both of them. I’m serious, you can’t tell anyone I gave you this price. They sell for $800. Will it be cash or credit?”
Wait Wait Wait. I was still too relaxed (maybe tired is what I really mean to say). I was alert enough to know that $200 for two large eye creams wasn’t that big of a rip off… if the product is good.
I wanted to buy them. I really did. But why? Was it the hard sell? Was I brainwashed? I had never heard of these products or seen them before! What if they were made from glue or what if it was just Ponds cold cream… how did I know anything. What if it had tons of yucky chemicals (as most things do… especially things that work.)
“Wait,” I said. “Can I just look at the ingredients here?” Why was Spenser still being so patient? The Xanax in the vents? I needed Spenser to get restless and say he wanted to go. ”And wait… how do you apply it all?”I asked, realizing I didn’t remember anything he had said while he was stroking my face..
“Of course. Here.” He turned the box around and showed me all I wanted to know. He wrote the directions for use on stickers and stuck them to the box. I didn’t recognized too much on the label. I did read the word Persian. Could this skin care line be Persian? Was handsome eye cream man Persian? And, I’ve seen a lot of Persian women with beautiful skin….
Was I being naive? Stupid rash? Yes! This was insane! I usually research and compare things like this. I don’t impulse shop anymore! I’ve never heard of this brand! I have no idea what it is!
I can’t buy this!
“I want you to have this and be my calling card. I want you to have this at my cost and you can tell people how much you love it and have them come to me… Cash or credit?”
I handed him my credit card, without too much pain. Was this how all victims of cons felt; almost happy to give there money over? It was only $200 of impulse buy. Only $200 of being totally taken in by an expert salesman. It could have been $800. Someone else paid $800… unless that receipt in the drawer was fake too! He did reach for it so quickly and easily.
OK, maybe not totally taken in. I mean I KNOW it was ALL an act. All of it… even the have this at my cost part. Even the Wows and the moment of being moved by my being a single mom. All an act. Right?
When I got home, as Spenser played with his Valentines day gifts (I spent $36) I convinced myself that my crows feet had diminished. I started to Google search the eye creams to find out what this stuff really was all about… and then I stopped.
I don’t want to know.
And that’s why I’m not going to tell you guys what it’s called. I don’t want you to tell me stuff you’ve heard or looked up.
I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know if I got ripped off (even saving $600) or if this stuff is a chemical wasteland or what. It was my special, weird little afternoon binge, that I will use and live with.
It’s like when you eat the cheese cake, you don’t want to know how many calories were in it.
It’s like when you stay up late doing something fantastic, you don’t really want to know what time you actually went to bed.
It’s like when you have sex with someone and then find out they had an STD, you don’t really want to know what disease it is… OK, well, in that case, you do want to know because you need to get treated immediately. But…
I’m going to choose to believe that I bought something good. I choose to believe that my handsome eye cream man really gave me a good deal because I was a single mom and because he was WOWed by me. After all, why wouldn’t he be?