Sunday, July 31, 2011

This Old Face

Several years ago, I looked in the mirror and a strange face looked back.  Sallow and as dry as crepe paper, with wrinkles around the eyes and creases around the mouth. Odd little bumps dotting a bony ridge of nose.

A 50-something face.

How could I make that face go away? My skincare routine consisted of deodorant soap followed by a slathering of whatever lotion was on sale at the grocery store. Clearly this wasn’t adequate.

The next day I surveyed the racks at the newsstand and bought a magazine whose cover girl looked more like a covered woman.  I began to leaf through the pages…and there was the answer: Two Steps To Youthful Skin. After 2 days, skin will glow with improved luminosity. After 2 weeks, fine lines will disappear. After 2 months, overall complexion will be radiant.

I tore the page out of the magazine and went in search of this solution.

Clutching the glossy ad, I ventured into the local department store’s cosmetics department. Chrome and glass gleamed. Glittering green packages seemed to tumble off the counters. Everywhere I turned, 400 choices of lip color, 300 choices of eye color, and 200 complementing shades of blush greeted me.

Where was the product in my ad? I walked around and around, squinting, peering. It wasn’t there. But I had come this far. I wasn't going to leave without a way to get rid of that face in the mirror.

Then the title of a brochure beckoned. Newsome skin is young skin. This line of products had a two-step process, too! Only, the first step had three phases. And the second step had a choice of creams, depending on whether you wanted to reverse the aging process or just slow it down.

Which did I want? How far gone was I? I needed professional help. And lo, “Cheryl” appeared before me, in her smart black smock. “What are you looking for?” she asked as she grasped my face and held it to the light for a clinical examination. “Umm…Not too bad.”

"Cheryl" proceeded to pull out pots and tubes and jars and jellies. Moving them around faster than a con man with a shell game, she grouped first two, then three, then one, then four. If this, then that. With that, none of this. This one once a day, but the other twice a week.

Math was not my best subject. “But what about this system?” I pleaded, pointing to the brochure.

“Oh, I wouldn’t waste my money on that.” She returned to her configurations.

I backed away quietly and headed for the exit, with a lingering glance at the counters on either side. I stopped to read one more display, to find that it didn’t address aging skin at all. Only bleeding lipstick. My disappointment must have been palpable, for I heard a gentle voice say, “May I help you?”

Across the aisle, against a backdrop of brown and orange — “The Colours of the Harvest” — was a pleasant young lady (“Karen”), wearing a cream-colored (or is that “creme-coloured”?) blouse with a Peter Pan collar.

“I’m searching for a system to make my old face go away.”

“Ah, we have the very thing.”

She produced a tidy little bag trimmed in green. “In here is our daily three-part system to Purify, Activate and Restore.  I can let you have this collection for $22.50 with a purchase of $30.00 or more of other merchandise.”

I quickly bought mascara, lipgloss and some hand cream. I was anxious to get my system home, to put it to work in restoring my youth.

It worked even faster than “Karen” could have imagined. For as soon as I squirted the first drop of Moisture Intensifier into my hand and smelled that sweet chemical smell, I was twelve years old again.

That was the year I was interested in make-up. From the pages of Teen Magazine  I had ordered the COMPLETE COSMETIC KIT. Cleansing Crystals. Milky Moisturizer. Firm Foundation. Lilac Lashes. Silky Shadow. Ruby Rouge. Luscious Lipstick. All for $6.99.  The package arrived in the Saturday mail and I immediately applied it all. When I went downstairs for dinner, my mother took one look at me and said, “No daughter of mine is living in this house looking like that. Now go wash your face before you come to the table.”

As I massaged these new lotions into my cheeks, I half-expected to hear my mother’s voice: “Kathy, what are you doing in that bathroom?”

Five days passed in using my new system, and all was quiet. My husband and children didn’t complain about any funny smells. And I believed I could already see a difference in my skin’s texture, elasticity, and color — I mean, colour.

So if you happen to be in the Philadelphia area and you spy a slightly graying woman surrounded by a luminous halo, that’s just me, radiating with the freshness of youth.

This old face...


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