Thursday, March 27, 2003

Aphrodite's Temple

Linda decided last night that with the stress we're both under of uncertain job futures, we could benefit from throwing all caution to the wind and enjoy a relaxing evening. The goddess Aphrodite, with her promises of beauty and love beckoned from her temple in Sherman Oaks. You were thinking Paphos, maybe? Please. Although Greece may have been easier to get to versus the traffic in Los Angeles during rush hour, we opted for the location that would allow us to be home by 8:00 for Survivor.

We breezed in past the golden pillars and stunning displays of the Macy's men's department and forged ahead to the inner sanctuary of the Lancome counter. Black-clad acolytes awaited us with promises of beauty and youth contained in vials and bottles of unguents and oils.

The first offering we were required to make was a detailed listing of our skin issues and flaws, along with what we hoped to accomplish at the altars. Under the burning 200-watt torches, our faces were closely examined, analyzed and found wanting.

Mousse-y cleansers washed away impurities and dead skin. Toner firmed up our pores, and tinted moisturizer provided our faces with a healthy golden tone, while also delivering a necessary minimum SPF of 15 and necessary nutrients to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Next was a skin color scrutiny. My skin has slightly more pink-ish (read: Anglo-Saxon non-pigmented boring) tones to it than Linda’s, whose Teutonic ancestry provides her with warmer colors. Her blue eyes were enhanced with a lovely blend of bluish / purplish / brownish colors making them appear even more doe-like and inviting than before. Her beauty expert was very complimentary of each one of her features. “Your eyes have such a nice shape!” “Your cheekbones are perfect!” “Your lashes are so long and beautiful!” “Your pores are so delightfully small!”

Cynthia did not have much to gush about where I was concerned. Though never demeaning or rude, she made it clear through the tips she gave me where she thought my flaws were. They mostly seemed to deal with my eyes, which are apparently squinchier than I thought. “By applying mascara at the ROOT of your eyelashes, it forces your eyes OPEN and makes them look larger.” “This color combination nicely enhances your green eyes and really opens them up.” “Make sure to put a lighter color shadow on the top of your brow – that will really open your eyes UP.” It must be a large miracle that I can even see with all of the squinting I’m apparently doing.

After an hour at the altar, we were invited to gaze upon the images of the new women we had been transformed into. I believe I had more makeup on than I’ve worn in the past five years combined. I do have to admit, however, that my skin looked smoother than it’s looked in a long time. My only concern was the way the under-eye concealer appeared to bunch up the skin. I didn’t realize how wrinkly I was there, but that part of my face looked like it was 50 compared to the rest of the 36 year-old me. I was informed by both Eileen and Cynthia that if I sufficiently moisturize and exfoliate my face, particularly under my eyes, there won’t be any dead skin for the makeup to cling to. Hey, I moisturize! I guess it’s time to graduate from my cheap-o drug store brands to what real women use.

Cynthia began tallying how much my offering to the goddess of beauty was going to cost. One bottle each of foam cleanser, tinted moisturizer, exfoliator and heavy-duty eye cream were deemed as the absolute bare essentials of what my skin needs to not only retain its youth, but keep it there for awhile longer. I balked a little bit at the idea of spending $60 on the eye cream, but she assured me that not only would it diminish the baggy, wrinkly skin under my eyes, it would attract men. Wow! Aphrodite not only heard my spoken desire for beauty but my unspoken wish for love too.

Feeling reckless with the prospect of love waiting around the corner, I threw in a tube of lipstick. One hundred seventy-seven dollars lighter, I left the womb of Aphrodite’s haven with a new-found hope, contained in a Macy’s bag with many free samples thrown in. My beauty may be guaranteed, but I doubt love is. And anyway, I have to wait four to six weeks to find out (the amount of time that eye cream needs to really do its job. After all, Cynthia assures me that’s all I need to catch a man!) No amount of creams and promises of smooth skin can keep me from having my shirt on inside-out unawares for the better part of this morning. I might have the smoothest skin in the world, but until I get some other basic life skills figured out, my Prince Charming will remain just out of reach.

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