Doc was shopping for shirts and ties back in the Big and Tall department.
I was excited to help him — for about seven minutes. Shopping for men's dress shirts is about as fun as emptying the dishwasher.
"I'm going up to the makeup counter. Come get me when you're done, okay?" I told him as I went scurrying up to get my Free Gift with purchase, a marketing strategy so brilliant cosmetic companies do it on a regular basis.
Getting a Free Gift — a five-or so-item combination of creams, lipsticks, eye shadows, bronzers, brushes, lotions or anything else that can be tucked into an irresistibly colorful zippered pouch — from a department store cosmetic counter is the closest a grown woman can get to her Barbie-playing days.
I stood at the Lancome counter looking around, adding up items in my head, figuring out a way to get my purchase as close to the $35 minimum needed to get my Free Gift when a stunning woman impeccably made up appeared on the other side of the counter.
"Our makeup artist is in the store this morning. Let her make you up and then you can decide what products you want to buy," she said.
I looked toward the Big and Tall department. No sign of Doc. Still rooting around in the ties, I figured.
"Okay," I said as she led me to a director's chair in front of an array of cosmetics that seemed almost as big as the deli counter at Publix. The makeup artist went to work, first taking a cotton ball to the remnants of my own makeup. Then the application process started. Lotion, cream, lotion, cream. A layering of different youth-inducing, wrinkle-erasing, brown-spot-removing potions — none of which assuredly cost less than 10 pounds of lunch meat from that aforementioned deli counter.
Next, she pumped a dab of cover-up into her open palm, scrubbed it around with a fat brush and applied it with upward strokes (so as not to make sagging skin sag even more). A dab of concealer here and there (on those pesky brown spots).
She picked up an even fatter brush, dipped it into the wispiest amount of powder and applied it with the gentlest of touches.
The blush. The eye colors — one for the top, one for the lid, one for the crease.
A penciling in of eyebrows. Eye-lining, below, not above, the top lashes.
Mascara. Lip-lining …
Up walks Doc. I could see him out of the corner of my eye. Oh, shoot, I didn't want him to have to wait for me.
The makeup people (there were three of them now) seemed to know to hurry up. Guess this wasn't the first time they watched a patient, package-laden guy plop in a chair in the adjoining shoe department.
"You look great," he said, coming over as I stood up. "Just get whatever they used on you."
Gulp. Eyes wide. An offer to buy me such a luxury! Feeling gluttonous, I offered slight resistance.
"… then you can throw away all that old stuff in your bathroom," he said.
The makeup people gathered up the items, ringing up one after another. The number of Free Gifts to which I was entitled amassed like coins spilling out of a Vegas slot machine.
"I feel like a rich woman," I said to him as we walked away — he, with his shirts and ties; me, filled fancy tote bags (part of the Free Gift packages) slung over each shoulder.
"If you really were a rich woman," he said, "they'd come to your house. You wouldn't have to sit in the middle of the mall in front of all those people."
Hmm. I thought about that for a minute. About his not-so-veiled attempt to alleviate my guilt. About how everything's relative. And I kept walking.
Still feeling like a rich woman.
Contact Patti Ewald at firstname.lastname@example.org.