“Oh fuck me, another gift with purchase? You know, if it is in fact a gift, shouldn’t you pick it for me?” my strained and whinny voice as I stood with my pudgy, sweaty arms pressed against the thick glass at the Lancome makeup counter. Face scrunched to hell, back screaming from a day of running stacks of wine on a dolly, with the added tension of knowing that I would have to take my greased up, day-caked ugly mug to the makeup counter at the fucking mall. There to buy makeup from some tartish looking twelve year old chick that while sporting a pound and a quarter of face gunk I would never, in my life, try and putty on would blink her fake lashes at me, my head cocked as I looked at them thinking, “So that’s what it looks like when spiders hump” as she sized me up by the spent balls of day old makeup that filled in the deep lines of my face like caulk.
Feeling deflated, fat, old, ugly and deflated I was reduced to begging the tart for help, “Can you….can you just pick something for me? If this” me waving my day weary hand in front of my face like a deranged mime, “tells you what I am in need of and you have a tiny bottle of it or whatever in one of those options, just please, for the love of whichever god you chose, just toss it in my bag and charge me, thanks.” Slung the perfumed stanking bag of needed face junk and not needed “gifts” over my shoulder and shuffled my thick frame through the heavy, and heavily finger printed Macy’s door and headed home to wash the caulk from my mug. Tossed the bag of free goodies in a corner of my bedroom, until a Hoarders marathon sent me blazing through my pad, black trash bag in hand, riding myself, and the others that live or have lived here, of stuff I was sure we didn’t need.
Happening upon a shiny white bag beneath some piles of old clothes I wanted donated to the local woman’s shelter, “What the hell is in here?” my muttering as I rested my hinny on the bed and dug through the bag that held empty boxes from my last face makeup and powder purchase to find two baggies full of rag-tag makeup and lotion samples. Poor little whorish 12 year old, I freaked her out and she gave me both “Gift with purchase” options. That or she took one look at me and my caulky face, figured I could use all the help I could get. Either way I chucked the frosty lip junk, put the face cream on the bathroom counter, the tube of body lotion on the table beside my laptop, there to soothe my elbows or whatever other chapped bits I might have whilst digging through the internets and answering emails.
“Damn, that smells so good” the growl coming off my curled lips as I rubbed the much needed, and nicely aromatic goo into my dry bits late one night while I was bumping around my nearly dark living room. Found myself reaching for the smallish tube a couple times a night and have been guilty of nuzzling my nose extra deep in my pudgy upper arm on the nights when I slather on a thick layer of free lotion. Always well past midnight, just moments before falling asleep, my nose deeply sunk into arm pudge when I flash on a memory. A fuzzy recollection of thin legs, tightly curly hair, smooth dark skin, Levi’s always a size too short, the sweet voice that cooed and begged, and the dry, old looking hands that would twist my flesh when I teased just a little too much. As all the little windows shut down in my brain, my day closing down to a slow hum just loud enough to lull me, I would drift off to sleep wondering why I chose him first, why I pushed him away when he came back for me years later and why the fuck I was thinking of him thirty years after the fact, while I was trying to sleep no less.
“I’m going to start with the red Burgundies, then the whites, from there the rest of France then I will come find you and you can have me taste whatever it is you want. Work?” my strangely sergeant major sounding words to our newest buyer at a trade tasting the other afternoon. I actually ended up starting with Billecart-Salmon, (still a no go for the store folks. Too much for too little, resting on reputation I’m afraid) then moving on the Vogue. Comte de Vogue. Started my tasting afternoon swirling, sniffing, zhoozhing Bonnes Mares and Musigny, some of the rarest and most stunning Burgundies on the planet around in my mouth whilst scribbling notes on my folded over tasting sheet. And that, that was just the beginning. Ran through no fewer than sixty wines that afternoon, teeth stained and burning from the acidity but we still had Cognac, Armagnac and Calvados to access.
Twisted the key into the lock on my front door, grocery bags digging into my palms, mouth dry and stained, tongue fishing around under my top lip looking for any kind of moisture. Dumped the bags of fancy dinner fixings on the dining room table before kicking off my shoes and changing into by biggest and most comfy pair of jeans and my pretending-to-be-sexy see through thermal looking shirt dealie. The day’s booze not taken in for fun but still saturating in that way that makes any chore seem like more of a….well, a chore. Tossed dinner doings in the fridge, heated up a couple smoked turkey hot dogs, (Oh shut up. Trying to do little shit to eat healthier) before flipping on the music and cranking the clumsy knob on the bathtub….bath. I needed a bath, stat. One loud whoosh and the shattering, splashing sound of water falling back onto itself as I stood and I was steaming, pink, wrapped in a towel, and steaming. Lumbered up to the table for that strangely intoxicating tube of lotion to smear on my still warm flesh. Puddle of cool cream in my hand as I swiped it across my shoulders and began rubbing it in….that was when he came again. Tight curls, smooth dark skin, big begging eyes and wrinkled hands digging into my thighs. What, the fuck?
Polo. Polo cologne. Somewhere above my knee I realized that the white goo I was rubbing on myself reminded me of Polo cologne and that, that was why my first lover, the one from 30 years ago, was on his knees whispering and begging, touching and visiting me. His scent sliding between my fingers as I rubbed his memory deeper into my skin. Didn’t take long before I was on the interwebs seeing just how much this “free” tube of memory lane was going for….
“Take it out of that awful wrapper and put in the foil” my mother when we would get back to our house after our under cover procurement of weirdly orange government cheese. My mother a proud but desperate woman that was resourceful enough to talk her best friend into being the one to stand on line for the hand out…the big, hulking block of ugly and texturally unsound cheese that we would sustain ourselves on when actual food was a couple-days-from-payday-away. I remember the reckless abandon with which I would hack into that hideous block of tasteless dairy. The big solid strips I’d cut off and not even finish when we had the giant log to slice from but….as the month wore on, those slices became nearly as see through as my after tasting blouse and you can bet your ass I gobbled down each and every flavorless morsel. Never quite sure if there would in fact be a next meal, I learned to gauge my hunger and want and calculate how many more x’s there were on the kitchen mounted calendar before payday. Orange cheese of waxy texture is right up there with pancakes as far as shit I hope to never eat again. A constant reminder along with the holes in my shoes that my mother’s life didn’t work out as planned….
$35.00, that’s what a tube of Lancome Hydra Fraichelle, (come on Lancome, a regular name wouldn’t kill you and it would make things far easier for your 12 year old counter whores, and me) memory lane lotion costs. I thought of him, how he sweetly and just as innocently as I was, seduced and taught me. Got me to wiggle out of my jeans simply by pressing his slight but hard chest against my shoulder blades, my tummy and hips bruising from the force of the floor under me, his flesh sweating and the scent of Polo cologne, all oily and pungent filling my bedroom the more I touched, kissed and folded beneath him. $35.00 to be reminded of the second he shivered and succumb….the second I figured out that I could be, wanted to be, and would be in charge of him and this. In charge of my body and what I would put inside me, what I would finish.
Started with waxy cheese
Fears and insecurities that splayed me wide open but….
Left me with an acute sense of smell and the awareness of just how powerful that truly is…
Vogue and 33 year old Armagnac, long way from government cheese.
Feeling very humble, and grateful right about now, for this unasked for but given gift with purchase.