That’s right. I’m a kiosk hater. I don’t like to go to the mall in the first place. It’s too much for my ADD brain to handle. So many busy window displays. A different song blaring out of each store I pass. The smell of cinnamon buns mixed with burritos wafting from the food court. Not to mention the kiosk merchants that hunt you down.
From the moment you enter the vast Shopping Super Highway, you see them standing there. Smiling at the passersby, ready to lurch at the next victim with their “you- can’t- live-without-this” product. They scan the crowd for the person who screams
biggest sucker. Or the one who clearly needs to get her hair straightened by the most amazing hair straightener ever created. Or try on the sunglasses that will revolutionize her life in the great outdoors.
I look straight ahead. I look at the store windows opposite their kiosks. I look at my phone. I look anywhere away from the kiosk stalkers. Yesterday, I must have been the one wearing the “biggest sucker” tatoo. Why else would I have been accosted by the Miraculous Eye Cream man?
“Try this,” he said, lunging at me with a small tube.
“No thanks,” I replied as I did the two-step to get around him.
“Oh, but let me ask you a quick question,” he said as I made my way past his intrusive self. “What kind of eye cream do you use?” He was getting louder as I continued to walk away.
I turned around and said, “I don’t.”
The whole mall waited for his reaction. All the people froze, the music silenced, cinnamon buns inhaled their own aromas, and even the mannequins leaned forward to hear him GASP. “WHAT what what?” his voice echoed throughout the mall.
“I. Don’t. Use. Eye. Cream.”
Apparently my admission was so disturbing to this poor man that he abandoned his kiosk. He was willing to let any ol’ hooligan or jealous competitor walk right up and stuff their pockets or purses full of Miraculous products so he could save me from my ways. When I saw him following me and yelling, “Wait. You have to try this,” I grabbed my son’s hand and ducked into the closest store which just happened to be Victoria’s Secret. I covered my boy’s eyes and ducked behind the Second Skin Plunge Satin Demi Bras. Boy tried to see through the cracks in between my fingers so I tightened my grip while watching out for Miraculous Eye Cream Stalker Man.
When the coast was clear, I let go of Boy, forgetting where I was, and sighed with relief. “Why did he want you to try that cream?” Boy asked.
“That’s what he does,” I said.
“But why did he follow us and yell ‘WHAT’ through the mall?”
“Maybe he hasn’t sold enough eye cream,” I replied.
“Or maybe he really thought you needed that eye cream,” Boy answered back.
“Nah. It’s not like I have bags under my eyes. I’m only 41, after….” then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. A Victoria’s Secret mirror, no less. Standing there next to Miss Very Sexy Push Up Bra Model, I saw them like I never had seen them before. Bags. I had bags. We’re not talking full-on luggage but maybe a small, overnight duffle bag. Regardless, I had bags… and lines… and suddenly I wanted to run back to Miraculous Eye Cream Stalker Man and beg for his mercy.
But I sucked up my pride and proceeded to use the moment to teach my son a lesson. “Did you see how he came at me when I least expected it?” I asked Boy. He nodded. “We were coming out of H&M, and we were distracted by our new purchases.” Boy nodded again.
“And did you see how he had the little bottle all ready to put into my hand before I could even think about it?” Another nod. “Well, that is what someone might do to you with drugs some day. What if one of your friends came up to you with something and handed it to you before you could even think, and he told you to try it, what would you do?” Boy wasn’t talking, just nodding.
“That was not a yes or no question,” I said. “What would you do if someone pushed drugs on you like that? Hello? Hellloooo?”
Boy was staring into my eyes but I could tell this lesson was not registering in his pre-pubescent brain. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
“You’re tell me not to do drugs or something, but it’s kinda hard to concentrate with all these… all these bras and underwear in here,” he said.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said, laughing. “Does this embarrass you?”
“Not really,” he replied, and then it hit me. He wasn’t distracted because he was traumatized by Miraculous Eye Cream Stalker Man. And he wasn’t speechless because he was embarrassed. He was distracted because he is a boy, a boy whose hormones are just staring to leak out. A boy who could care less about eye cream or bags under his mom’s eyes or the drug talk she feels she needs to give him right now. He is a boy standing in the middle of Victoria’s Secret for goodness sake!
I quickly grabbed him by the hand, covered his eyes and navigated us through the store and back onto the Mall Super Highway, in the opposite direction of any kiosk. When we got in the car, I vowed never to put him through that horror again. What I really meant to say is that I would never put myself through that horror. The eye cream incident was one thing, but my son actually enjoying a store like Victoria’s Secret was another thing altogether.
From now on, we are strip-mall shoppers only. Wait, did I just say “strip?” Oh, Boy!