She got me. Worse, I didn’t even know she was coming. A quick detour through Waikiki’s evening street market district and I was one hundred dollars poorer.
“This is all your fault,” I said, grumbling to my husband and handing him my wad of ‘fun money’. “You had to check out that alley. I should have known we were going to get mugged.
He laughed. “As I recall you bought this stuff willingly. Besides, you might have fun with these products.” He was more cheerful than I expected. “It’s good for you to pamper yourself sometimes.”
Easy for him to say. He grew up in a house whose motto was ‘Life is good’. By contrast, our own family motto was ‘Hide your money and your women. The Vikings are coming’. Needless to say I wasn’t a spender, I was a hoarder. Giving the woman all this money, just for something that I was going to slather on my face then rinse away, seemed wasteful.
But she was so smooth, and beautiful, and from Israel. She had skin like soft desert sand and eyes the color of the ocean. And she appealed to my Achilles heel - my vanity.
“Look there, April.” She handed me a mirror as she sat me down at her cosmetics stand. “Do you see those spots on your cheek?”
I shook my head. I hadn’t seen them before. But here, under the unforgiving glare of her fluorescent lights, they stood out like craters on the moon.
“And over here, you have a bit of rosacea going on. You must not scrub very often do you?”
I shook my head again, ashamed.
“And those little lines on your forehead. Those are only going to get worse.” I started to say something but she stopped me. “You have bags under your eyes too…you must not get enough rest.”
“Fix me!” I burst out, unable to control myself any longer. “Fix all of me!” How had I not noticed this all before? Suddenly, I felt like Franken-beast out terrorizing the villagers. How could my husband have let me go into public like this? I glared at him as he checked out the nearby stands.
“In my country,” she cooed, taking my hand to let me know everything was going to be okay. “I got addicted to these products when I served in the Army. They are from the Dead Sea. You can look at my skin and see what they do.”
I not only wanted to look at her skin, I wanted to lick it. It didn’t matter that she was twenty and I was…not twenty. I wanted a face like that.
“How’s it going over here?” My husband ambled in our direction. “Need my debit card?”
I looked at her to ask ‘can we do something about this?’ She nodded.
“Yes, honey,” I said to my husband. “I need your debit card.”
For the next fifteen minutes she showed me how years of bad nutrition, bar soap, and not living in Israel had taken its toll. “Buy these April. They will make you look very beautiful, for your age.”I didn’t want to be beautiful for my age. I wanted to be beautiful for her age. I let her know and she sold me two more items for my patch and repair kit. I was a target, but I didn’t care. I had spent weeks dieting so that I would not feel ‘fat’ in Waikiki, but I hadn’t counted on feeling something else: old. So after a very good sales presentation I schlepped away with a bag full of products, and a promise from a beautiful Israeli girl that in just one week my lines softened, my jaw tightened, and the bags under my eyes gone for good.
As we left I noted that most of the people on the beach were young. There was a glow around them, and not just because their skin was still supple. It was because they had years left to plan, and live, and dream. The road to the world lie ahead of them, paved with possibilities. They had so much time ahead of them, and I did not.
Maybe that was the real reason I bought all those products. If I looked as young as they did, maybe I could fool time into letting me go back, letting me do it all again. Relive every moment I had heretofore taken for granted: holding my sons, kissing my husband for the first time, spending time with my dad before he passed. The lines that were beginning to emerge on my face were a new reminder that time was passing, and I was passing too.
“Want to go back to our room and watch a movie?” My husband asked. It was 9 PM. I looked around me. There were young, fashionable people scurrying off to clubs and piano bars. If I ran to our hotel, slathered on a week’s worth of product, I might look good enough to infiltrate their group. I wasn’t that young anymore, but with the right clothes, makeup, and miracle cream, I could pretend.
“I’m glad you bought yourself something,” my husband said, taking my hand. “But you didn’t need it. You’re already beautiful.”
“For my age?” I looked up at him and batted my eyelashes.
“For any age. We have lots of years ahead of us, and they are going to be good.”
He was right. I smiled and wrapped an arm around his waist. The siren’s call of a warm bed, popcorn, and a movie with my husband was stronger than the call of the world. I realized I didn’t need to go back. I had all that I wanted, and needed, right now.