Kiss and Make Up: Retail Therapy with Little My.

My daughter is a serial shopper, whereas I am as happy about setting foot in a shopping centre as Brigitte Bardot would be with the prospect of a full-time job in a fur coat factory.  So when Little My asked me for an afternoon at the local shopping centre this week, I bit my lip.

Shopping seen by Little My.

Little My’s shopping philosophy: “Shop till you drop”.

It would be easier to convince Robert Mugabe that democracy is a viable form of government than it is to get me to partake in retail therapy. But Little My has had a tough time recently, and deserved a bit of quality time. So I grabbed my bag and set off with my beaming daughter to the nearest shopping mall.

As we walked along chatting, Little My suddenly grabbed my arm and yanked me out of the sunshine into the dark interior of what smelled suspiciously like a brothel. I choked on the unexpected lungful of eau de pong. My eyesight adjusted to the darkness, and I gaped in horror. She had done it again. I was in a “parfumerie” -a high-street den for felines who spend more time in front of the mirror than I spend in front of the fridge; women who pluck their eyebrows, pay to have their pubic hair ripped out by wax-yielding sadists, and touch up their lipstick during their coffee break (presumably incase George Clooney bowls through the door on an unexpected visit). In short, women from another planet who scare the pants off me.

I resisted the temptation to do a runner, and meekly followed my ten-year-old to a make-up stand. Little My was enthusiastically inspecting a strange collection of mud cakes, and started rubbing brown gunk on the back of my hand. “It’s foundation, Mum,” she kindly explained to her cosmetically challenged genitor. As I protested that I knew what it was, a voice piped up at my side. “Are you looking for something in particular, Madame?” Swinging around, I relished seeing the sales girl’s realisation that it would take more than a swish of her magic mascara wand to improve my sagging façade. Her eyes peered out of a generous circle of shimmering, electric blue eyeshadow. Combined with her white shirt and close-fitting black suit, she bore an uncanny resemblance to a penguin wearing Sir Elton John’s glasses.

I'm still standing

Another long day in the make-up department drew to an end as Elton John Penguin sang  “Blue eyes, baby’s got blue eyes…” (Photo credit: rogiro)

After establishing that my skin is dry and that I am allergic to most face creams, she proposed a “bébé crème”. Although this may sound very sexy, elegant and classy to  French women, I found it more reminiscent of blotchy babies’ bums than a beautiful complexion. She reassured me that I had got it all wrong: Blemish Balm Cream is the new Rolls Royce of the make-up world, le must for a flawless complexion.

But what about madame’s allergies? Another black and white apparition hove into sight, also sporting electric blue eye sockets. Cue Jaws film soundtrack. This was a solitary killer whale, cruising the diva-infested depths of the shop in search of prey with the ideal combination of low self-esteem and a high bank balance.

She glowered suspiciously from beneath a mercilessly lacquered black fringe and inspected me from head to foot. Once the customer scan had been completed, “ Tomboy Alert” flashed in red lights in the thought cloud above her head. “If madame has allergies, madame will have to buy a Clinique BB cream,” she snarled, pointing towards what was probably the most expensive brand in the shop. I informed her that you could probably feed a family for three days with the price of one pot. She hitched one nostril upwards in a condescending snarl and wished me a good day, then flicked her fins and glided off into the darkness of the anti-wrinkle cream abyss, where she had spotted an unsuspecting bottom-feeder seeking a solution for facial gravity.

As Elton John Penguin sorted out a tester so that I could blotch in the privacy of my own home, my eyes roamed along the shelves. It’s my problem: I can’t switch off from work. I find spelling and grammar mistakes everywhere I go – see the post about Super Saver Tomato for more about this foible.

Sure enough, there it was, screaming at me:

A pot of BB Crème will be awarded to the person who pot the missing letter.....

A pot of BB Crème will be awarded to the person who spots the missing letter…..

I resisted the temptation to correct it immediately with a red lip liner, and diplomatically suggested checking if the word “beau” required an “x”. Elton John Penguin appeared dubious, and darted off into the seaweed to seek the advice of Killer Whale.  Five minutes later, she tapped me the shoulder, and reassured me that it was fine the way it was…. “because beau is an adverb”. Little My looked at me, and her mouth opened. It was my turn to drag her out of the shop.

“Beau is an adjective, Mummy. And it should have an “x” at the end. Didn’t they go to school?” Little My concluded that although it’s great to know how to apply make-up, it was tragic to have the IQ of a pot of Nivea. I think I enjoy this shopping lark after all…..

27 thoughts on “Kiss and Make Up: Retail Therapy with Little My.

  1. Here is again your love for finding all sorts of spelling and grammar mistakes. You are perfectly right : there is a lot to write and photograph on the subject as it is distressing to see adult people convinced that an adjective is an adverb while Little My knows the difference since several years ago…
    I remember you driving me in St Augustine to show me a panel with 3 spelling mistakes on its 3 lines and, lately, a shop-window in St Tropez.
    La “crétinisation” est en marche !

    • If some French people could speak their own language as well as you speak English, I’d be delighted. I always seem to be with you when I see spelling mistakes…. the last one was a missing “M” in “consommateurs” outside a restaurant, remember? 🙂

  2. Very impressed with the metaphors….I’m still with BB in the fur factory. By the way, there seems to be an “s” missing as well as a missing “X”. Essex speak might use “beautiful” as an adverb as in – “You done that beautiful”.

    • I don’t know why BB popped into my mind, but she’ll never read the blog (says she crossing her fingers). I think I’d commit murder within hours of arriving in Essex: I’d bludgeon them into submission with a copy of the OED.

  3. I didn’t get to guess the missing letter… and I so wanted a pot of BB Creme! 😦 Love how you liken the shop assistant to a penguin and her manager(?) to a killer whale… can picture her vividly with your description of her lifting one side of her nostril in a condescending snarl 🙂 and good on Little My, that girl’s got her head screwed on right! Thanks for the laughs… went down wonderfully with the morning coffee! 😀

    • The missing letter is an “x” on the adjective “beau”, as “yeux” is a plural noun. The two of them were a real dream: luckily they had no idea what was going on in the imagination behind my wrinkly façade!

  4. I love this little anecdote. I, like your daughter, love to shop, but I always dread walking through the cosmetics section of department stores because there is always an immediate onslaught of people waving makeup at you and spraying you with different fragrances.

    • Glad you enjoyed it! Littly My doesn’t wait for anyone to squirt her with perfume; she goes up to the shelf and grabs everything with a price label of over 100 euros. She smells like a fruit bowl all the way home. I always feel like running when I get cornered by salegirls wielding make-up 😀

  5. OK, this is just fabulous. The mother/daughter thing when the d is ten; the whole not being into makeup; the analogy with killer whales and penguins, dens and caves. I was absolutely standing in your skin – at the same time laughing with pleasure at how well you captured and created the scene. Thank you so much for this – and you know I’ll be back!!

  6. I did enjoy that…..I could see it all, skin creeping with horror.
    I wonder if that reaction is why one always looks at one’s worst in these dens of fraudulence.

    • You hit the nail on the head there, Helen! I always feel totally old, wrinkly and decrepid every time I see one of those sales girls. I bet they hang upside-down from the rafters at night to battle against the effects of gravity on their jawlines.

  7. I was with you every step of the way, MM, and very glad it was virtually, not literally. 🙂 Another shopping phobic here and as for make-up departments, they are bad enough in the UK, but with French staff they would be the stuff of my nightmares.

  8. Snarling !!! This was hysterical and you are such an entertaining writer! I have to say that my daughter was my constant creative and shopping companion up until the switch at 12 1/2. After that there was no more “mom and My” She is now 19 and II would gladly follow her into a den of stench just to spend some time together. !! Enjoy this time. Hmmmm. would have been a great
    ” Fleeting” post ……

  9. Hilarious post!! I did enjoy reading about your mother/daughter adventure. She seems a smart young lass that one and confident enough to experiment a bit with make-up. Good for her.

    I did spot the deliberate error and the almost correct ‘well they both start with ad’ explanation from the shop witch. Last time I went into a shop like that it was to buy a lipstick and discovered that they now wipe the end of testers with an antibacterial wipe so you can try it on your lips instead of the rather useless back of your hand. I still bought the wrong colour though. I was just desperate to get out and escape the intense rays of bitch that were being beamed at me from the assistant. I’ve since discovered that La Foire Fouille does really really cheap make-up (mascara for €2!) so it doesn’t matter if you get it wrong. I bought some summer nail varnish for my toes there the other day. Bargain at €1.25!

    • Thanks, Sarah! Don’t make excuses for them, they’re a bunch of numpties 🙂 I actually bought a lipstick (in a shop that didn’t have spelling mistakes) to make Little My happy, and it was the first I’d bought for four years…. I still have the lipstick I bought for my wedding in ’93!

      • 1993? Goodness, I think I threw out all my antique make-up relics recently in an effort to get organised. I wear a bit of make-up to work so do tend to get through, slowly, mascara, lippy and eye-liner.

  10. Very funny 🙂 I always feel I have to have a full face of slap before I can even venture into the make-up department to face the penguins. I am the only builder’s labourer the LGB has worked with who wears mascara and a bit of lippy!
    Back in France now with no internet on site (staying with friends tonight), so will catch up with you as and when. By the way, loved the ‘curve’ photos, especially the lady.

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