Sunday, April 20, 2008

Going for Mascara

I figured running this errand - "Frank, would you mind, when you're at the store, getting me some mascara," would be easy enough to do. I mean, how hard can it be to buy two tubes of mascara?

When I went into CVS, my first task was to figure out which aisle mascara would be in. I stood there in the front of the store, gawking like a tourist, looking at the aisle headers: Nope, not fragrances. Certainly not feminine hygiene, eye care, mouthwash, or hair products. Hmmnn. Then it dawned on me that mascara was cosmetics. The aisle on the far left. Easy enough; I'll just pop in, get this done and be out in a flash.

Next thing I knew I was standing there staring at four different but side by side floor to ceiling displays of mascara and related products. "Oh, shit." I thought. Maybelline, L'Oreal, Revlon, and Almay. This is not going to be easy. I barely know what mascara is; I mean, I know it's stuff that women (for the most part) put on their eyelashes to make them look - look what? Beautiful? Luxurious? Exotic? Accentuated? Accessorized? Cat-like? Catty? (No. Not catty. I need to stay out of trouble here. It's hard enough to focus on this much less veer off on a tangent.)

Does she want longer lashes? Maybe smoother ones. No, how about longer and smoother; certainly not clumpy. Clumpy and lumpy would not be cool. Should the eyelashes curve or be straight? If they naturally curve would you want them straighter? If they're naturally straight do you want them to curve?

Does she want smoother, longer, fuller eyelashes? Is each lash supposed to separate to... to what? To be separate - from what, each other? Why would you want your eyelashes to be separate from each other? Are eyelashes fuller if they're separated?

How about color? Does she want black eyelashes, brownish-black, brown, mostly black (or mostly brown), or some other color altogether? No, I knew black was the color of preference. But what color of black? One choice was blacker black. The mystery deepens. Sweat starts forming on my brow and under my arms. It's starting to get warm in the store.

I remembered something about waterproof. I understand if a person wearing mascara has their eyes tear up (hopefully from joy; but, you know, you never know; at least, most guys don't), the mascara runs all down their cheeks and onto your shirt and then...Whoa, Frank, don't go there.

Oh man. It's really getting warm now. I'm sorry I agreed to run this errand. I'll just tell her they didn't have any. Instead, I pick up matching tubes from each of the four displays. All four choices are black, waterproof and cost $7.49 each. I make sure there are two tubes of each. God forbid if I were to come back with non-matching tubes. Why does she need two tubes, anyway? Is it one tube per eye? Don't go there, Frank. Focus on the prize.

Standing there, I read the backs of each tube in the hope of finding something that will make my choice the best it can be. A couple of the tubes have aloe and vitamin B15. That's got to be good, doesn't it? All four are hypoallergenic and have been opthamologist tested. Tested for what? I can just imagine an opthamologist, wearing a white lab coat, standing on the podium in front of a thousand people with a tube of mascara in his/her hand, saying, "Yep. It's a tube of mascara, all right." I guess that proves it.

Okay. I discard the two that don't have the aloe and vitamin B15 in them. Now I'm down to two. Jeez. Twenty minutes have gone by and I'm still standing in this aisle trying to pick mascara. It's become an insane process. I'm starting to hyperventilate.

Ah! The difference! One brand has, as it's 20th year anniversary promotion, a buy one full price and get the second one 50% off. There you go: buy two, get one half off.

So, I finally get two tubes of black, waterproof, hypoallergenic, opthamologist-tested, mascara with aloe and vitamin B15. And, it's only taken forever.

I trot on back to the house, fairly secure I've gotten the right stuff and able to defend my choice based on exhaustive consumer research. I've even managed to save a couple bucks in the process.

Here you go, my dear: Two tubes of mascara. Gee thanks, she says. Well, wait, I say. Don't you want to know what I got? I mean, I'm ready with this whole spiel justifying my choice. In return, I get two questions - is it waterproof and is it black? Well, yes; but, what about all this other stuff about it, I ask?

"Oh, I don't really look at all that," she says. "I just go in and grab two tubes off the rack. Doesn't matter which kind, you know." she says, "I'm in and out of there in a second." Then, as a final, afterthought, she says, lightheartedly - "You guys. Always looking to save a buck."


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