A Beautiful, Elegant Shell Game

Posted on December 4, 2019


Life in the boomer Lane spent Thanksgiving week with her youngest child and his family. His children are age two and eleven months. After spending five or six days getting into various positions on the floor that no one over the age of 50 should subject themselves to, she had a free morning. She decided to walk alone along Charleston’s historic and trendy King Street, with no thought in her mind other than good coffee, shopping, and an awareness that the dark circles under her eyes were decidedly more pronounced now than when she left DC.

Shortly into the stroll, she came to a store in which a beautiful young woman stood in the doorway, handing out free slivers of soap. LBL’s brain said “Don’t take the soap,” while LBL’s feet stopped and her hands took it. The young woman offerred to wrap the sliver of soap for her in the store. Again, LBL’s brain told her not to step into the store, while her feet once again disobeyed.

The store was elegant and beautifully appointed. The beautiful young woman bombarded her with questions about skin care. LBL felt herself falling into a semi-conconcious state, resulting in her being seated at a mirror and having another beautiful young woman come over and start applying cream to her face. Phrases like “anti-gravity” and “collegan boosting properties” wove their way around LBL’s brain, overriding other brain cells that were now screaming, “Don’t buy the cream! Run! Leave the sliver of soap behind!”

The second beautiful young woman then applied the cream around LBL’s eye area. All puffiness disappeared. The depressions under LBL’s eyes disappeared, resulting in the dark circles vanishing. LBL was a goner. She was set to buy the product, even if it cost $50. It turned out that $50 would have only gotten her the bag the cream came in.

LBL will not embarrass herself telling readers how much the cream cost. But the beautiful young woman offerred her several deals, because she was a tourist, because she was a grandmother, because her eyes were far too beautiful to live one more minute without the magic cream. The price was still in choking range, but by now, LBL just wanted out. She strongly declined the offer of a free facial and headed to the register to pay for the eye cream. the second beautiful young woman exited through a door behind the register

A new person appeared at the register, a handsome young man. LBL will not belabor readers with details. She will simply say that within mere seconds she was seated back in the chair, having a free facial, administered by the handsome young man and a laser light machine. LBL watched a film while she sat. New phrases were introduced, like “NASA technology” and “deep cellular reconstruction.” The few brain cells that were still functioning informed LBL that now she would be required to purchase the laser light machine. Hundreds of dollars would turn into thousands of dollars.

The machine did its job. But now LBL fought her way back to full conciousness . While she was told that her various statuses in life would qualify her for one discount after another, she simply repeated “I have to think about this.” The discounts piled on The boxes were switched. Now she would get all the discounts PLUS get the larger, more powerful machine.

LBL was steadfast. When the handsome young man realized that she was not going to buy the machine (several thousand dollars), he morphed into another humanoid entirely. No more sparkling white-toothed smiles. No more jokes about marriage and family. No more insider discounts. The conversation became:

I just spent an entire hour with you and you tell me that you aren’t going to buy this machine.

That’s correct.

You just spent (seriously embarrassing amount of money) for a cream that doesn’t do anything, compared to this machine.

Uh, I guess so.

I’m done here.

Handsome young guy disappeared through a door behind the cash register. LBL picked up her bag, exited the store, walked past the beautiful young woman at the entrance, handing out soap samples and, because of her commitment to being a civilized person, LBL smiled at her. She then continued down King Street, carrying her elegant bag of inferior-to-a-laser-machine eye cream and the world’s most expensive sliver of soap.