Friday, October 28, 2005

candied apples, malls, and rape

It's my fault and I admit that. But it has been a long time since I have been near a mall and I forgot the rabid look of a crazed queen next to a woman whose face looks clean and unvarnished by paint or tan, a blank canvas begging to be used. It's my fault.

Yesterday a couple of friends (I almost wrote fiends and that would have been right had I known what was going to happen) called and asked me to meet them at Wendy's on 30th and Colorado. I needed a break after 14 hours of nonstop work and even fast food sounded good when I did not have a single piece of organic fruit or a carton of Boulder Mexican Chocolate ice cream in the house. I needed to run errands and go to the co-op to stock up on fruit, vegetables, free range chicken, and 7 grain cereal, so I said yes. As I finished the last job in my queue, they called again. "How about we pick you up?" they asked, innocent voices hiding their nefarious plans.

Against my better judgment (the voice in my head screaming, "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" I said yes and sealed my doom.

"We might be a few minutes late," they said. "We have a stop to make on the way."

"No problem," I responded, thinking I'd have enough time to finish the last dictation, wash up, and change clothes before they arrived. Besides, I owed them one. I had been late two days before when going to meet them at the theater because the landlady took a little longer than usual to candle my ears. "See you there," they chorused and were gone.

I finished work, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and put on some clothes, finishing just in time as they rang the doorbell. Grabbing my bag, swatting away the buzzing NOOOOOOOOOOOOO in my head, I went downstairs and got into the car.

We went inside Wendy's, ordered our food, and both B & B took their food back a couple times because the counter clerk didn't understand "no tomatoes, no mayo, and extra sour cream." The guy even tried to scrape the mayo off the buns and hand them back, but B stuck to his guns and demanded new sandwiches. Obviously something more than a trip to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory was not going to be enough to soothe their rattled nerves. They needed something more-- a LOT more.

It was as if the god/dess conspired against me yesterday. Mountain Mama's did not have another copy of the magazine with the 30-day colon cleanse diet in it and RMCF did not have candied apples. They had lots of caramel apples in various flavors with a myriad of toppings, designs, and extras, but no candied apples. Oh, well, time to take me home, I thought, but that wasn't in the cards either. B asked if one of their other stores had them and would not be dissuaded because B had never in all his young life ever had a candied apple, one of the symbols of Americana youth.

I still don't know how it is possible to go through childhood and teen years without even a taste of a candied apple at a fair, circus, or carnival or never having the sugar rush of cotton candy melting on your tongue and spangling your face with liquid crystal gems of food coloring-laden sugar. Even kids in poor families have tasted the airy spun sugar confection and felt the gluey sugar cement coating lips, tongue, teeth, fingers, and face from a candied apple, but not B.

The only RMCF that had candied apples -- the only one in the city that was also in the process of making them at that moment-- was the one at Citadel Mall. A mall. A MALL!

I don't like malls. I like to go to a store, get what I want, and get out of there as quickly as possible. The idea of mall crawling is like being caught in a George Romero zombie horror flick and knowing you're the next to die and neither brains nor brawn will keep you safe.

I forced the fear like a molten lump of bile rising into my throat back down into the pit of my stomach, clenched my sphincter muscles tight, and held on to my pentacle for safety, mumbling prayers and promises. B told B, as he broke out into a cold sweat, that the RMCF was right inside the door. We'd go in, get the candied apples, and get right back out before the mall riptide could take hold of us. It was a quick snatch and run -- or so I still naively believed.

The RMCF was right where B said it was. They had candied apples still warm and gooey ready to be sold. We ordered three and I waited impatiently, ready to run at the first sign of weakening and being carried deeper into the bowels of the mall, while the clerk put each candied apple in a separate bag, took the money, and handed us our purchases. Free! I thought as I looked hopefully at the door.

"There's Foley's," B said.

"What's Foley's?" I asked, unaware of the riptide swirling hungrily at my feet.

Too late.

"You don't know what Foley's is?" he asked. He turned to B, "She doesn't know what Foley's is," he gasped in shocked amazement at B.

While they talked over my shocking ignorance, I wandered over to the calendars keeping a sharp eye on any break in the ghostly zombie cordon gathering in the shadows to push me deeper into the mall. But they found me, linked arms with me, and drug me moaning, crying, and begging to be let go toward Foley's. Once inside it was obvious I wouldn't get free without a fight, damaging something I'd be forced to pay for, something really useful like battery operated socks or crystal faceted vials of smell water with fancy French names and even fancier price tags. But I never suspected I would be raped in front of the salespeople and that they would even stop to offer helpful tips and suggestions. Never in my wildest nightmares, but I didn't know the intoxicating, overwhelming, and biologically imperative lure of the makeup counter to queens with a blank canvas of a woman like me.

Yes, it was my fault I was makeup raped. I know that now.

From the Shiseido counter where they attacked me with brushes, sponges, mascara wands, tissues, lipsticks, glosses, and makeup to hide my natural protective coloring amid taunts and criticisms of my minimalist look, I hung onto a high stool while they assaulted me again and again and again until the fresh, clean, naked canvas of my face was obliterated behind a wall of artfully applied color and contrast. Not content with painting me, they bombed me from behind with noxious smell water and yanked, twisted, combed, and pulled my hair into something less simple and more fashionable -- or at least as fashionable as it could get without the tools of their trade and a borrowed hairpin more suitable to picking locks than holding my hair in a twisted but fashionable rope snaking up from the nape of my neck to the crown of my head.

Thinking they were done with me, I wandered dazed and confused toward what I thought was an exit, but they forced me over to the Lancome counter to continue their assault, unhappy with the first five layers of paint and gloss. Dazed and overwhelmed by color, scent, and shock I purchased a tube of lip gloss and a lip pencil, but my feint did not work. B bombed me from behind with more smell water and they drug me past jewelry arguing about class and style versus big, gaudy and glittering (the kind of jewelry my mother loves so very much and keeps in plastic bags she carries in her suitcase of a purse wherever she goes), on through purses (same arguments and offerings), and on into shoes. "What do you prefer?" they asked in chorus. "Beauty and style or comfort?"

Silly me. "Comfort," I said boldly and loudly.

"You are a Lesbian," they said, giggling. "We knew it."

"No," I argued. "I believe that a shoe should fit me not the other way around. I can have both," I said, chin out in defiance.

They tittered and giggled and pointed and laughed as I worked my way slowly and carefully, so as not to arouse their suspicions, towards the exit and closer to the doors that led out of the mall from hell. "I need to get back to work," I explained as I bolted for the door.

They were disappointed, but finally agreed to follow me, fingering the goods and trying to tempt me with shoes, purses, more makeup and whatever else was close to hand. I needed to get outside. The noxious fumes of the commingled smelly over priced waters had given me a headache and my stomach felt like it was swirling between Scylla and Charybdis.

I finally made it to the car, got inside, and stuck my head out the window breathing fresh city air while they drove me home, wondering how fast I could get up the stairs and into my apartment to the bathroom to wash the French whore stench off my neck.

When I got home, washing didn't help. I ended up having to change clothes. I left on the paint because I realize that despite their makeup rape they did do a creditable job of turning me into the BBW version of America's Top Model, even though I could barely keep my eyes open from the weight of the mascara on my lashes. I didn't take it off until just before I went to bed -- and it took two cotton patties and lots of eye makeup remover, washing twice in my homemade natural castile soap and essential oil concoction, 20 minutes behind an egg yolk mask, and another washing and application of moisturizer before I felt back to the glowing naked canvas of my every day face smiling back at me.

But you can be sure that next time I will remember not to be in the vicinity when rabid queens crazed for candied apples see a mall where the cosmetic counters wait like baited traps for clean faced females who just want to be girls in comfortable shoes.

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