Shopping… for a Smile

Picture this…

She’s wearing more makeup than clothes… For real! Her lips are so swollen, you can’t tell if it’s the Botulinum Toxin (vulgarly known as Botox) or permanent surgery; but you surely could tell they did not come with the original package from her mother’s womb. She must have depleted a whole lipstick of dark blood-red to cover both lips, around which, an interrupted and uneven line of black liner painfully tries to trace a contour. Her mouth looks like stuck in an endless kiss rictus.

Bright green contact lenses hiding the irises and forbidding the pupils from dilating give her an eerie empty stare. She is looking at you but seems to be in a drug-induced trance. Look her in the eye and you will be in the presence of a Borg craving to “assimilate you”… Her eye lashes are stiffened with the excess of black Mascara and the rest of the eyelids displays a peacock-tail color palette that reminds you of a “Cirque du Soleil” performer… Minus the talent!

The eyebrows are reduced to a hair-thin line bestowing upon her a Frau Blucher look from Young Frankenstein. Poor thing, if she could at least smile…

Her hair makes you wonder how do the neck muscles cope with all the weight… Add to this the whole works, huge metal and colored crystals necklace and earrings. Thank God, she’s blessed with a pea-sized brain to counter-balance…

I won’t even indulge in describing the rest of the body. All I’ll say is this: When we called the coke bottle “sexy lady” we did not only talk about the shape, we also meant the proportions…

Tight white jeans, tight pink t-shirt through which transpires an even tighter bra squeezing her breasts like a baby buttocks and lifting them up all the way casting a late afternoon shadow over the wavy hills of her belly. Bracelets and rings cover her hands and wrists, producing a percussion cacophony every time she lifts her hand to take a puff of her Super-Extra-Wildly-Slim mint-flavored cigarette. To top it all, she’s wearing flip-flops that came straight from some bedroom. It seems that her feet hurt from all the standing outside the shop to smoke…

Of course, to subtly accessorize it all, the gum. Chewing and clicking sounds place her between a ruminating cow and an old ham radio plagued with interference noises.

She’s bored from the lack of shoppers on that hot spring mid-week day. She yawns every now and then, slowly opening her mouth so wide you could see her panties, so loud, whales do actually answer her song, ending it with a long “Aaaakh ya Allah”!

I step in looking for a pair of black jeans to try on. That was a mistake, a big mistake… Although bored, she was not happy to see me. She was actually finishing a cigarette just outside the shop, with a grumpy face, leaning against the wall, right next to a small poster that promoted anti-smoking.

I walk in. She stays out for some time before she reluctantly decide to follow me in after a frowning grimace. Obviously, the aim was not to help me choose the jeans, but to make sure I don’t steal anything first, and second to insure she turns my experience into a living hell as quickly as possible for me to leave as swiftly as possible. She did have one last cigarette while sending a couple of text messages; one to her boyfriend reminding him to fit the dark fumé on his 1977 yellow BWW 2002 Tii windshields, and another to order a Rami Ayache song as ringtone…

She finally follows me in and starts sizing me up from a very short distance, so short I could smell the nauseating mixture of cheap perfume, sweat, and tobacco. She did not say a word, but I kept thinking she did… Until I noticed it was the chewing. So I said to myself, since she’s there pretending to help, let me pretend to need her. I turn and ask if she had black jeans. She points to the opposite shelf of the store and manages to mumble the word “there” between two chewing gum clicks. I smile oh so cynically and leap to the opposite shelf. There was no black jeans either… Damn! Now I have to ask her again. She was texting again with a smile. Should I interrupt such an “intimate” moment? Hell yeah!

“Excuse me, but I can’t see any black jeans there either”. “No?” She asks, “reverse-bursts” a bubble with her gum (Author note: You know, those bubbles blown inward inside your mouth and then popped?) and continues “look over there” pointing to the display at the end of the shop, right next to the fitting booth. I walk to the display. No black jeans… I walk back towards her like on a death-row and tell her. She sighs rolling her eyes upward (but subtly I have to note), continues texting for a few seconds and then looks at me, or so she seems with her zombie contact lenses, and says “Mmmmm, yeah, we must be out of black jeans!” And she leans against the shelf, chewing her gum louder and looking everywhere except at me.

Fine, fine. I understand. Time to go. I walk out, and while passing by her, she says “Ya ahla!”… It all simply looked like a movie played in reverse, which normally starts with welcome, and ends up… Well… with a cigarette…

Be afraid, this is what most of the sales people at shopping outlets in Lebanon look like and behave. I once asked a saleswoman, in a very reputed outlet, for the price in Dollars instead of Lebanese pounds, she went for few seconds and came back with the answer. When I asked her the second time, she went and came back with a calculator and… gave it to me…

Two lessons:
One: If you can’t handle this job, go and be the personal assistant of some cadaver in a remote cemetery.

Two: Shop owners, while you sit in your air-conditioned offices, behind Jean Nouvel desks surrounded by switched off laptops, mini-fridges and fake antiques, some employee is ruining your business and reputation trying to get a Rami Ayache ringtone to work on his $30 monochrome Nokia!!

And guess what? To hell with black jeans, I’ll stick to my worn out denim.

©2011 Ibrahim Lahoud

Creative Commons License
Shopping… For a smile by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at ilahoud.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at htt://ilahoud.wordpress.com/.


7 Responses to “Shopping… for a Smile”

  1. June 21, 2011 at 16:13

    What a read!!! Amazing description, so very (unfortunately) true!

  2. June 21, 2011 at 22:22

    They are so ruuuude. I went once to buy some black clothes , grieving over my mother’s death. And I found one item that was torn from the side, and asked one of the ladies if they had the same in a better condition. WIthout even looking at the dress, she said ‘la2 ma fi’ ( No we don’t) in disdain and superiority. I was already out of myself and remember throwing the dress up her face screaming my lungs out. Honestly, I don’t regret doing that! And shop-owners need to take drastic measures.

  3. 5 cathy abou-jaoude chaftari
    June 22, 2011 at 18:41

    LOL can’t describe how hard i was laughin’…everything is sooo true & more 😀

  4. 6 Carina
    March 29, 2012 at 08:15

    what a description! you have talent! its like i was there! 🙂

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Creative Commons

Creative Commons License
Reason To Believe by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at ilahoud.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at htt://ilahoud.wordpress.com.

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