After we finished lunch, we walked to the escalator and rode up to the floor above, stopping near Best Buy store. ‘You walk around, Dad, while I go look up a dress to buy.’ Months ago, she would have invited me to join her. Today was not such a day – not that I relish chaperoning and picking up tabs. Any self-respecting, decent father can sense from their daughter’s voice when their company is not custom mink eye lashes needed.
‘Sure, you have thirty minutes to shop; I’d like to get out of here by 4 pm.’
My tone was not offensive or mean when I responded. Middle-aged men have a page full of random, unimportant things to do each day. Nowhere in that list would you find ‘walking around in the mall.’
While my daughter weaved herself into the mix of other bargain hunters, I contemplated for several seconds how to kill time, a whole thirty minutes. Any other person would have settled for the obvious, held a handrail and watched people and objects compete for attention.
Before we rode that escalator I had eaten a heavier lunch than I wanted. So, like any diet watcher, I felt some sore inner guilt. Saturday was my exercise day and I was yet to break a sweat. What should I do?
Walking would do it. Unlike jogging, one does not need to dress up in other clothes to walk. My hat, a brown chateau, fit in nicely with the mall crowd, and my narrow toe box shoes were comfortable enough.
Hskiea right turn from Best Buy put me on a long stretch of mall corridor. Human traffic was heavy, but everybody was in their own selfish, life-lonely path. Macy’s came up, with store lights blasting like a music boom box. Coffee drinkers lined up patiently at Starbucks. I resisted joining the queue.
Further down, at Adore, two store employees, a young woman and a man, waited. They were holding mini size plastic bags containing two sachets of lotion, which they handed to passersby.
It was after I walked passed them that I looked back. Don’t ever look back. People always get in trouble when they look back. My gaze met that of the young woman. She leapt a yard and offered me one of the bags.
Mid-twenties is my estimate of her age. She was charming, her color resembling peeled ripe banana. She wore black lipstick, painted her nails black, her black hair swung to the right and stopped at ear level. Her black custom mink eye lashes extended like opened louver window frames.
‘No thanks, I’m just taking a walk while waiting for my daughter.’
‘Try it out,’ she begged.
I accepted the bag. Through the transparent front glass wall, I could see inside the Adore store. Numerous glass cabinets containing cosmetic wares hung on the side wall. There were no other customers at the time, which to think of it was why I stopped.
‘Why don’t I show you how the lotion works?’
She led the way to the right side of the store behind the glass wall. On the low-lying shelf were jars and tubes of lotion. I knew a sales pitch would shortly follow, so I repeated my plea in case she did not hear the first time.
‘I’m just walking to kill time while waiting for my… ‘ I began to explain again.
‘Give me your hand,’ she requested.
I offered my right hand, hoping to get the demonstration over with quickly. Two willowy fingers scooped a pecan nut-size dollop of lotion from a yellow jar and deposited it on the back of my hand. First with her right hand, and later using both hands, she massaged cold white cream into the skin.
As she worked on the knuckles and the custom mink eye lashes of the back of my hand, I wondered when the sales pitch would come. Regaining my freedom and continuing walking was on my mind. Slimy cold lotions are not my thing.
Somehow the massage yielded a shining back hand and a small trash of debris – debris which she said was dead skin exiting my hand.
Thirty minutes blew by, gone forever. The mood to walk had been swept away to join the scrap pile of abandoned ideas with the same whimsical wind that blew it in.
‘What do you think?’ she asked, a ripple of a smile over her cheeks. ‘Apply this cream to your face and it will rejuvenate like the back of your hand.’ Like a baby’s buttock, I imagined. ‘For you, I can sell the package at half the price.’
Our eyes went to the low wooden shelf holding a red tube and a small blue jar of lotion, as well as a box of cotton balls.
For several minutes I wondered in silence. The glamour was present. The cream magic was impressive. The cost wasn’t such a big deal. So what’s the drag?
The answer appeared. Out of the repressed memory of mistreatment many married men endure over the years, a clear voice began to whisper in my ears.
‘Don’t buy,’ the voice warned. ‘Facial rejuvenation only belongs to women. The purchase of a facial massage kit is a sign of an out-of-control, errant man.’
If my Android cell phone hadn’t rung right then, the whispering voice would have continued nonstop.
‘Dad, I’m here, where are you?’
‘On my way to Starbucks,’ I said.
‘Coming!’ and she hung up.
If you enjoyed reading this article, please donate a small sum to a nonprofit organization that helps elders in my custom mink eye lashes (Akokwa, Nigeria) live out their lives in dignity.