Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Cosmetics Girl

I was taking my time browsing through the make up and perfumes in the duty free shop at Glasgow Airport, killing time while I waited for my flight back to Paris. The trip home had been seriously short - I'd only really had two full days in Scotland - but I'd done everything I had needed to do. I'd spoken to the priest about marrying us in his church, I'd viewed three venues for the wedding reception, had my highlights done and even managed to squeeze in a lunch with Zannie. It was hard to go back to France after such a whirlwind visit, but at least I was going home having made headway on the wedding plans.

"Can I ask you a question?" A girly voice interrupted my thoughts and I was confronted with an orange-faced, platinum blonde, blue-eyeshadowed member of staff.

Before I even so much as uttered the word 'yes', the girl whipped out a cosmetics brush from her back pocket quick as a flash, and before I even knew what was going on, she brushed it across my cheek. I stumbled back slightly from surprise. Then, with the same lightening flash actions, she pulled a pink hand-held mirror from somewhere else on her person and showed me my reflection.

Ah. A cosmetics girl.

I should have recognised her before she approached me. I could have avoided her, hidden behind the Chanel N°5 perfume display perhaps, if only I'd seen her hovering around. Looking at her then, I couldn't believe how I had missed the signs; the ten shades too dark foundation, the overpowering waft of strong perfume that followed her around, the name badge that read 'Sophie Jane - Cosmetics'. I was a fool for not having been en garde in the duty free shop, a fool.

I have always been very wary of these make-up girls who work behind the cosmetics counters in department stores. I don't trust grown women who plaster their face with every single product that they are trying to sell all at once. No normal person would honestly believe that their orange foundation, blood red lipstick and multi-coloured metallic eyeshadow would convince any customer to buy cosmetics from them, surely? I mean it's hardly a good advertisement for the products, is it?

I looked at my reflection in the pink mirror and saw a startled girl with a single circle of red blusher on her left cheek looking back at me.

"Stunnin', innit." Cosmetic girl said. It was more of a statement than question. I looked helplessly up at her, my mouth opening and closing like a fish, unable to find the words to reply.

"But don't worry," she continued, grabbing my hand and leading me to her counter. "I wouldn't leave you with only one side of your face done! Sit up here," she patted the seat of a high stool. "And I'll even you up!"

She had been trained well, this cosmetics girl. All her actions were so fast and sneaky that you had no time to argue, no time to even think of an excuse in order to escape. In the end, I suppose I climbed onto that stool because it was easier than finding a plausible excuse and let's face it, managing to walk away with my dignity intact when I had only one cheek covered in blusher was impossible. The damage had already been done.

"So, what's your name?" The cosmetics girl asked as she whipped out three different types of foundation and dotted them on the back of her hand.

"Linsey," I replied, realising that it was the first time I'd had a chance to actually speak to her. She mixed the three blobs of foundation into one vile brown colour, and began applying it to my face. As she did this, my eyes darted around the shop, wondering how I could escape, where I could run to, where were the nearest toilets so that I could scrape this muck off my face and what I could possibly say to get out of this situation.

I realised that since we were in an airport, the best bet would be to look at my watch and gasp, state that my flight was boarding soon and then make a mad dash. But I had already done the unthinkable. She had gotten me to sit on the stool, and everybody knows that once you are in that stool, you are there until the bloody end.

"So Linsey," she spoke up, breathing her morning breath into my face. "I'm going to make you look stunnin' today." Stunnin', it appeared, was her favourite word. She finished rubbing in foundation and several layers of unknown creams and lotions, before she whipped out the mirror again and I saw that I was a fetching shade of tangarine orange. The girl then grabbed my hand and, without asking, spritzed three sprays of perfume on the inside of my wrist.

"This perfume is called Seductive," Cosmetic girl stated. I raised my eyebrows. "Are you feeling seductive today, Linsey?" She was so cheesy, I almost rolled my eyes.

"No." I replied matter-of-factly.

She glared at me. "Well, you will."

Next to come was another layer of foundation, which was supposed to give me a 'bronzed glow' but when I looked at my reflection in her hand held mirror, I saw that it only made me a glittery tangarine orange. Classy. Very classy.

It took almost twenty minutes, but finally, finally, she was done. Cosmetics girl took out her mirror for the final time and showed me the result. My heart jumped into my throat.

"You look stunnin'," she said.

I almost punched her right there and then. My skin was orange and glittery, my lips silvery pink and I had two big, red, round circles where my cheeks used to be. My eyelids were painted with metallic gold and in contrast to my face, my neck was completely white. I looked like an eejit.

Apparently the cosmetics girl took my silence as a sign of delight. "So, what do you see that you want to buy?" She chirped, confirming my fears that she was on comission. There was a large pile of products lying on the counter next to me, according to her, all those creams and potions and lotions had been used to make me look this...er, stunnin'. But I didn't want to buy anything. I had only walked into the shop to browse! I have no money! I didn't need any of this stuff, I didn't like any of this stuff!

So what did I do?

"Um," I pointed timidly to my chin. The area that was least affected. "I'll, uh, I'll take the shiny stuff." Cosmetics girl's face lit up and I could almost see dollar signs in her eyeballs. She packaged the tiny and extortionate 'shiny stuff' up for me and I paid, grudgingly, using my credit card. As I made my way out the door, keeping my head down and trying to navigate towards the nearest loos, I couldn't help chastising myself over the fact that I can never just say NO.

I really need to get a back bone, damn it.


Lis of the North said...

I'm sure you're much more stunnin' au naturel ma cocotte ;)
This did make me smile, somewhat ruefully of course, because I have real trouble just saying NO. Our manners must be too good ;)

Loth said...

This had me howling with laughter - I hate those girls too but fortunately I am so clearly and obviously a lost cause that they never approach me! But I know if they did I too would buy something out of sheer embarassment rather than tell them to sod off with their overpriced muck.
Did you wash it off in the loos then, or keep it on and scare the bejasus out of your fiance when he met you off the plane? Imagine his face if you'd greeted him with "This is the look I've decided on for the wedding!"

Kim said...

Haha Loth, I love it! or FP wondering what sort of great weather there must be in Scotland at this time of year - "oh, hey my Princesse, it is you... ahh you look ah tanned.. plenty of sun in Scotland then?"

I can imagine the lights in the shop probably make the makeup look even better.. imagine what the girls must look like in daylight - frightening small children.

Jane said...

Aw poor Princess, you were well and truly "got" weren't you? I feel for you!

I've always found the simplest and quickest way out (without saying "no" of course, cos I can't do that either) is to get in as quickly as possible, and say "you're right, it is/I am stunnin', and I would love to be able to buy these, but unfortunately I am really really skint. No cash, no money at all."

It's amazing how quickly they will leave you alone after that!

Have you managed to remove the last traces of orange yet?


KatduGers said...

And you didn't even get a picture to share with us!!!!

Great post!

T.D. Newton said...

Yeah, seriously, that's a picture I would have paid for!! Especially if you made it look like a mugshot (or creepy myspace photo).

Teuchter said...

You're so right about there being no escape once they have you impaled on that chair.
Did it take a lot of scrubbing to rid yourself of all the clart?

My daughter and her friends used to refer to the orange girls at school as The Oompaloompahs.

Your tale reminded me that every time I go through a particular store in Beijing, I get attacked by the same woman, wanting to give me something to deal with the dark circles under my eyes. Unfortunately, my mandarin isn't up to telling her "It's effin' jetlag, for goodness sake".

Ghosty said...

Hello Princesse! You and I have nothing in common in the store ... I am famous for going through all the motions the sales girl puts me through, smell this, and look at that, and won't your lady love this ... only to get to the end for me to say "No, I'm sorry ..." Cruel man, I am. :)

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Lis I really think it's a Scottish politeness thing!!

Loth Haha! There you go, I knew not being able to say no was a Scottish politeness thing! I did indeed wash it off in the loos, although not all of it was willing to come off, so I still wandered around with vile eyeshadow. If FP had been planning to meet me at the airport I may well have just left it on for the laugh but I had to travel through Paris by myself and thought that would be taking the job a tad too far.

Kim LOL! I can just imagine his face! Those girls are worse than I thought if any of them actually go out wearing their make up that way! I thought it was in their contract stating that they had to wear an entire bottle of perfume and every make up product available, but perhaps some of them actually choose look like that...all of the time. SCARY!!

Jane I must try this method, because if they are on comission it should work. In theory anyway. However, this is how I usually deal with those annoying sales people who phone you up and ask you if you want a new mobile phone contract, and no matter how many times I say I have no money, they always bounce back with an answer.

KatduGers Fortunately, for me, no!

TD The next time, perhaps. Depending on my sense of humour and desperation for blog content!

Teuchter Those girls are so like oompaloompah's! It's the skin tone. Add some blue hair and voila!

Ghosty You are a cruel man, aren't you! But I dare say you only do it to balance it all out for those of us too embarrassed to say no!

Bethy{aka}lilsis said...

Be mean to pushy sales people :-)
I sound like a jerk for saying it but I really despise it when anyone invades my American-sized personal space... and it's usually the sales girls in clothing or cosmetics stores.
And I always get ugly about it too- I just point out that I can feel their beady eyes on me and that if I wanted their help I would do the mature thing and ask for it. :-)
Sadly, that usually only buys me 5 minutes of freedom from their presense and then they are back and irritating me again lol.

Zhu said...

This is exactly why I never ever step into a beauty shop if it's empty or if the salespersones do not appear to be very busy chatting about their week end.

I like it best when they ignore me... I have no willpower otherwise!

my cup of t said...

haha, this is hilarious, and so relatable, yet it is somewhat comforting to know the cosmetics girls look equally disastrous all over the world! (I'm from New York). Just last week I was in Macy's when one of them approached me who had fake contacts and fake eyelashes that had a purple streak on them from where the eyeshadow was poorly applied, and too pink blush slapped on to skin that was too dark for it to ever look natural... and I'm supposed to want to buy products from her? Once my friend dragged me to go get free makeovers at one of these places, and the products had such a horrendous smell, or maybe it was the woman putting them on, I couldn't tell. She seemed annoyed when I told her I don't usually wear a lot of makeup, and then when she asked what I'd like to buy, I asked to see a list of prices, and she said "You tell me what you want to buy, and I'll tell you how much it costs," in a menacing voice! I don't know how I got out of their alive without having bought anything. Anyway, glad I found your site. I lived in La Rochelle too actually, in 2006 as a teaching assistant! Would love to hear more about your time there and compare experiences. Jess xx

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Hi my cup of t! Ah yes, I would imagine the majority of country's throughout this world have Cosmetics Girls and of the many I have seen, they all do have the same traits. The plastered-on-with-a-trowel make up, and as you mentioned, the typical aggression when the customer doesn't want to buy anything! It's so sad!

So glad you stopped by and I'm rather amazed that you also lived in La Rochelle! I lived there in 2006 too, can you believe it! Well actually I was there from August 2005 to August 2006, but still what a coincidence! In fact, my man and I are off there this weekend for a wee romantic getaway! I'll say hello to La Rochelle for you :-)

my cup of t said...

Hi again! That's crazy, I must have just missed you, I got there in October of 2006 and left in May of 2007. I miss it so much, my desktop wallpaper is of the vieux port and I still talk to friends from there on facebook/msn all the time... I miss so many things about being there... I really wish I could live in France again. You're really lucky. I never ended up with a French boyfriend, although I did date a British one while I was there, haha. Were you studying at the university? I wonder if we knew any of the same people. What bars did you frequent? Let me know how your trip went. (Put up pictures too!)
I don't know if this counts as much of a coincidence too but I also have Scottish roots! On my mom's side, last name Young. As a kid I was always dragged to Scottish Games each year and competed in Highland dancing, crazy right. (I'm a huge Belle and Sebastian fan too.) Also coincidentally, I was also going to apply for a job in La Defense at ESCE but someone got it before I could! I have a friend who works there. So needless to say I relate to many things in your blog. Will keep reading and living vicariously.
Jessica x
P.S. my msn is meinetassetee if you'd ever like to chat.