Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Common "Scents" can be Dangerous

My good friend Joani gave me a gift card from Bath and Body Works for my birthday with a note that said, “Pamper yourself.” I do what Joani tells me to do. So, I headed to the mall and found the store, armed and ready for pampering.

I have been in Bath and Body Works twice, both times for just a moment or two. I never buy lotions because a) I always get them as gifts and b) my mom raised me in a Jergens only home, so I have never really used anything but your basic whatever-looks- like-Jergens-at-the-store brand.

But today was my day of pampering. I thought I was ready. I wasn’t.

After only a few moments in the store I felt overwhelmed. I was unprepared for the majesty, the pure extravagance, the mass quantities of lotions, body sprays, bath gels, and shower foams to just name a few. Three large walls housed families of different scents. Cherry blossom, sea cucumber, sugar vanilla and more. They all stared at me.

Non-shopper panic set in.

“Can I help you?” She looked twelve and was way too perky.

“Um, well...” I didn’t know where to start. “I guess I am trying to pamper myself.”

“Oh, like, good for you!” Once again, way too perky. “How can I help?”

The next question was born out of self-preservation. I didn’t know what to do, (Joani if you read this, I apologize) and I thought I should just run home. Ergo, I asked the tackiest question humanly possible.

“Do you buy back gift cards?”

Her perkiness disappeared, replaced with a teenage disgust used mainly for mothers and anyone with clashing outfits.

“Like, no.” She walked away.

I sighed. “Okay, Robbie, you can do this.”

I don’t know what I expected when I walked in, maybe a personal masseuse or a guide to scents who wasn’t dealing with, like, acne. But I set the expectations aside and set out to find something that would pamper me

Once I began sniffing and spraying, a sense of feminine power came over me. I am woman, hear me roar. Well, actually smell me…smell good. Anyway, everything smelled so nice that I couldn’t choose. I ended up selecting several little bottles of different scents.

At the counter, I was waited on by a woman closer to my age and much less perky.
“Congratulations! You bought some excellent products.”

“Thank you.” I wondered why she would congratulate me. It wasn’t as if I received a degree in scent-ology in the aisles of Bath and Body Works. It wasn’t like I passed some milestone in my life, having never shopped for lotions. Well, actually...

As I walked away, I started to feel woozy.

“Wow.” I thought. I smell…strong.

Then, and only then did I notice little white sheets of paper below all the scented lotions and sprays. Apparently, spraying those little pieces of paper helps the consumer distinguish between scents and saves the rest of the world from coming in contact with said consumer after having sprayed each and every scent upon her person.

Too late.

I walked out of Bath and Body Works with a Pig Pen cloud above me full of cherry blossom and sea cucumber and sugar vanilla and more.

The smell was so strong I felt a bit dizzy. I couldn’t figure out which way the food court was. I was completely disoriented.

“Excuse me, miss, do you need some help?” The voice had an accent.

I whirled around and saw a lovely young woman with huge teeth.

“Which way is the food court?”

“Give me your hand and I will tell you.”

“What?” I was in a scented fog.

“Give me your hand.”

She took it and began buffing a nail.

“I’m sorry…”

“The food court is that way, but first let me show you something.”

For the next few minutes I was completely in Shirley’s control. It was as if I couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, couldn’t do anything but listen to her dazzling sales speech about the Dead Sea Nail system. Shirley was from Israel. She knew the Dead Sea’s power.

She showed me the one nail she had buffed.

“Wow!” I was completely intoxicated. In my right mind, I would’ve said thank you, but no thank you and been on my way. But the scents, her powerful sales pitch, the glistening fingernail under the mall’s fluorescent lights. “Wow.”

“How much?” I couldn’t help myself.

“It is $99. But for you, only you, I make it $49.99.”

“I’m sorry, but I…”

“Do you have sister?”


“Okay.” Her Israeli accent was strong as ever, but she ducked her head and whispered. “I give you one for $49.99 and a second one…” She paused for effect. I was completely with her and actually leaned in to hear what she would say next. “…free.”

“Wow.” Again, I felt drunk with the Bath and Body love and still dizzy. The food court was where I was headed, but at that moment, the Dead Sea Nail system was the most important thing in my life. Karen, my sister, and I could enjoy one strong shiny nail a piece. But then I saw John’s face, the keeper of the budget.

“I want to, Shirley. I do.” She was my best friend at this point. “But I can’t.”

“Fine,” she said and for a second I thought I had offended my new soul mate but then I saw her reach and get a Dead Sea Nail system and thrust it in my hands.

She turned her back on me as if the deal were done. “You take, $25.”

This is when I said something that completely proves how out of control my faculties were. “You would do that for me, Shirley?”

“Yes. How you pay?”

I took my stinky self with one shiny strong nail and stumbled into the food court, Bath and Body scents and Dead Sea Nail system in bags. I sat down with my Subway sandwich, two chairs away from a couple.

They got up and moved while twitching their noses.

I almost apologized to them, but at that point I trusted no one. They could’ve been Amway salespeople and I would’ve actually invited them over to my house to hear about an exciting opportunity.


cj marley said...

Almost like the ladies that meet you at the front doors of fancy department stores with sprayers loaded and ready. Might as well be Uzzi's or AK47's or some other assault rifle. Almost as effective. :)

John Iobst said...

We have all met Shirley haven’t we? For me it was at a timeshare presentation when they started popping balloons and welcoming new members to the Villa “Whatever” family… Next thing I knew I was signing up to pay the “low low price” of who know what for a time share we never used or saw. At least this time “Shirley” only got 25.00 from our family. I loved the story and I am so blessed to live with such a talented woman.

Bradylake Man said...

I laughed till i almost cried!

I always love the smell of those candle shops and really go out of my way, in my rare appearance at the mall, to go past the experience. But when i go in and start looking at candles i start having flashbacks of drug riddled adventures and silly attempts at masking the smells.

On one visit to the intoxicating smell great candle store I think i asked the salesman where the bongs were; as you would imagine i got a poor response.

Now days I just overuse incense in the garage to try and make the smells of a fine cigar less obnoxious to my family. Maybe i should go to your shop!

Great story Rob!

Jan Parrish said...

I saw that Dead Sea Nail lady! And there are two more in that mall somewhere. They prey on those who don't have fake nails because the system is virtually useless on them. They thought I was an easy target but I found the special nail file on sale at Target and saved myself from all the other stuff I didn't want. :)

I thought I smelled Vanilla Sugar at WFTJ today. Yummy.

Like you, I am a Jergen's girl but I love the Better Than Lather bath soap. Won't leave home without it.

Stop by my blog. We are celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month with prayer request, praise reports and memorials for those who have or have had breast cancer.

Laurie K. Lewis said...

Being a "Jergens baby boomer" myself I realized when I left home that there was a whole world of dead sea salt, Kama Sutra lotions, body butters, pedicures, manicures, cinnamon, nutmeg, spice, vanilla sugar scents, home scents, car scents, hair scents, body scents and other ways to pamper myself and spend extravagant amount of money to make myself look, smell and feel better. And I do believe that aroma therapy does work if you work it! LOL Does this make any sense??
I just loved your story, Robbie. What a crack up. Which mall was that? We have the Dead Sea lady here in San Diego near the food court too. Is she omni present or does she merely have a lot of sisters who all got the $25.00 deal.

Pam W said...

Oh you are to funny. This was a great story as it has happened to probably all of us. Me especially. I hope to get to meet you some day. I bet we would laugh and giggle all day long.