Saturday, September 15, 2007

Skepticism in Action, or Messing With the Norms

When GPop, Son, and I were gathering up our formalwear for Brother 2's wedding, we found ourselves in the mall where I worked, oh so many years ago. There was a kiosk there hawking new-agey skin care cr@p made with salt from the Dead Sea. Somehow, this is supposed to be good for your skin. As one of my friends stated, "If it's so good for your skin, why is everything in the Dead Sea dead?"

Anyway, we had split up to make our shopping experience more efficient. Alas, I should have remembered from my years of watching Scooby-Doo that nothing good ever comes from splitting up. This kiosk had two salespeople staffing it. A young woman with a heavy accent of some kind accosted me and demanded to know what I used to wash my face. Unfortunately, I didn't think fast enough to say, "Whale placenta," so instead, I just said, "Soap."

She recoiled from that response as though she were a vampire and I had severe garlic breath1. "Soap? Soap? You use soap on your face?" I might as well have been using Soft Scrub on diaper rash.

"Give me your arm." I decided that since I didn't have a pressing time commitment yet, I could afford to play along for a moment. She grabbed my arm and started her spiel. "Have you heard of the Dead Sea." I answered in the affirmative. "Do you know why people go there?"

"It's sort of a spa thing."

"That's right. The Dead Sea has many health benefits. This soap, made with salts from the sea, is specially balanced to exfoliate and remove toxins..." OK, if human bodies needed as much help removing toxins as all the skin care products claim, we'd all be dead of toxicosis before we were old enough to reproduce.

"Let me show you." She dipped the soap in water and smeared it on my arm. "Can you feel it working? You only have to leave it on for a few seconds, then you can wipe it off with a damp paper towel." She wiped some of the soap off my arm with the damp paper towel. "See how it exfoliates? Look at that dirt!"

I wanted to say something to the effect of, "The soap is the color of charcoal, so whatever you wiped off my arm is probably some kind of residue from the ALMOST BLACK soap," but I also wanted to punish her for accosting me, so I thought I'd play along with her power pitch up until she had rung up the sale, then I'd walk away without purchasing anything.

She pulled on my arm, and said, "Step in to my office." She aimed me at the cash register.

The random factors always seem to conspire to keep me out of trouble, because GPop appeared out of nowhere, tapped me on the shoulder, and murmured that we had to go - now. "I'm sorry, miss, we have to go."

We shopped a bit more in one of the mall's anchor stores, where I washed the rest of the soap off my arm. As we walked back down the mallway, I rubbed my arm furiously to make it red. I wanted to stop back at the kiosk and tell them that their stupid soap had caused a rash on my arm. GPop wouldn't let me. Darn Jiminy Cricket.

1For the record, she was not, and I did not.

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