Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Conan the Saleswoman

I feel dirty. I think I’ve been molested.

She was young and sexy and somewhat voluptuous. She mastered the lead wagon of the vendor wagon train that lay woven through the main thoroughfare of the shopping mall. Her cart was filled with a single product - a kit of some sort containing three items of the feminine cosmetic/skin care realm.

I drifted too close to this Salesmobile of Doom and she stepped right in front of me, halting me at once. She stared right through me with haunting terrible eyes.

“Do you ‘ave a girrrlfriend?” she asked. Her voice dripped with a syrupy European accent. Parisian French maybe? She sounded like the guy from the Alberto hair product commercials of my childhood. Alberrrrrlto…

“Um. Not exactly.” I sensed at once I’d stumbled into a pit of snakes and high-pressure salespersons.

“No? Zomeone zpecial?”

“Well. Something like that. It’s very secret though – and dirty!” I widened my eyes and bobbled my head just slightly, half hoping she’d think me crazy and let me go. Instead she changed the approach.

“What about your muhzzare?”

“My mother? What about her?”

“You are shopping for ‘er present. No?”

“Well – I have something in mind already.”

“I ‘ave what she want. ‘old out your ‘and.” I turned up my palm. She tipped a sleek white plastic bottle over it and dumped a mound of cream onto me. I stared at it stupidly. “Go on. Rub it in.” I did so. God, there was a lot. I spread it over both palms and after much rubbing I still glistened. Later that night I would watch a movie and idly wonder why the popcorn tasted like hand lotion.

“I need one finger,” she said, taking my right hand and turning it palm down. She took firm hold of my forefinger, brandished a white block about the size of a spice jar and began stroking it vigorously back and forth across my fingernail.

This went on for quite some time. Frankly it was becoming a tad painful.

“You know – I think you’re rubbing away some skin there while you’re at it.”

“No-no.” She continued to sandpaper me and make small-talk.

“Um – excuse me but I’m in some discomfort here-”

“You won’ believe the rezult when I am done. You’ll be amazed.”

“Yeah, um – is that blood?”

“She’ll only ‘ave to use this once every tree month or so.”

“Is that how long it takes for the finger to grow back?”

“I’ve zold so many of these today. Everybody love them, you know.”

My mind drifted back, summoning the survival lessons learned from my mom when I was four or five years old. I tried to slot this experience into the lesson scenarios. ‘Is this where I punch the bully in the nose and then run away? Or is this where I kick her in the crotch and run away?’

The buffing mercifully stopped at last. She put down the sanding block while simultaneously covering up the target finger with her other hand.

“Now,” she said, “Before I reveal this to you, you must promise to remain calm. You will be amazed. You will wan’ to jump up an’ down an’ zcream – you will be so exzited.”

“I’ll restrain myself,” I muttered.

“Voila!” She took her hand away. My one fingernail positively gleamed. It stood out from the rest like a sore – finger. “Well? What do you zay?” She produced the third item – a smaller clear plastic bottle – and spilled a drop of clear liquid onto the nail.

“It’s very shiny,” I said without emotion.

“Incredible. No?”

“If you say so.”

“So ‘ow much would this cost, do you think?”

“I have no idea.”

“What would you zay if I told you it cost only thirty nine dollar?”

“Mm. Well, thanks for the demonstration.”

“So ‘ow many would you like?”

“I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks.”

“Wait! Wait! Look ‘ow many I ‘ave zold today! Look at all these bills of zale! Everybody love them!”

“Wow, that’s a lot. Good for you.”

“Wait! Come back! I ‘ave more to show you!”

“Thanks again!” I waved without turning back – flashing the back of my hand. The one nail positively sparkling. It glowed like the grail-shaped beacon.

‘Great. Now Sir Galahad will be after me. He’ll chop my finger off to get it…’



Anonymous said...

Sweet Jesus! You should warn someone to pee before they read this. Some kind of disclaimer or something would probably be appropriate, too. You don't want to be responsible for ruining someone's brand new leather desk chair that they got for Christmas, do you?

I was assaulted by a nail polisher in a mall in Miami, FL. Sadly, she didn't have an accent, though.

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

Some piddle in the middle of your little leather chair
Is not pleasin' but no reason to be wheezin' with dispair

(A quote from the compendium "Dr Seuss & Mother Goose - Together at Last")