Monday, July 26, 2010

Ode to La Prairie

I like to stay young, so I listen to trendy music (at least trendy for a fourteen-year-old), get lots of rest (like a toddler), and moisturize as often as I can. Yes, I moisturize—and not just in any old tub-o-fat. I massage the old wrinkles with the La prairie collection of exorbitantly priced creams and emulsions . . .

Every time I’m at an airport.

Whoever came up with the concept of letting customers sample face creams was nuts. NUTS. The people who run the duty free shops have to know there are people like me out there who rely on the “TRY ME” signs to reduce their own aging signs.

For years, I stuck to the likes of Clinique and Clarins before I wandered off to see just how expensive these face creams could get. And, oh my Lord, I hit pay dirt.

“Not with the finger!” a salesperson yelled at me the first time I tried a La Prairie cream.

But it was too late. I’d already dipped my finger into the fountain of youth.

“With the paddle!”

Ah, yes. There was a little gray paddle lying next to the pot of gold. Your Cliniques and your Clarins don’t bother with such accoutrements. A cute little paddle. Next time, I told myself. And the next time. And the time after that. And then the one that followed. And so on. I fly a lot.

I even introduced the entire line of La prairie products to Bruno the Flying Walrus Cleaner’s mother. When she saw the prices, she was reluctant to “TRY ME,” but I assured her everything was on the up and up.

“With the paddle,” I said, proffering my little gray friend.

So for months I’ve been using La prairie products (in the truly exploitative meaning of the word “use”) and can report to my readers that my face is as soft and smooth as a prairie. Life has been better and more unctuous than before. Or so it seemed.

On Friday morning, I was a bit sleepy as I made my way to my cosmetic cabinet, better known as the Duty Free Shop at the Munich airport. I was running a bit late, so I headed straight to the La prairie section without my usual tapdance around the shop to let the salespeople know I was just “looking.”

I went for the Anti-Ageing Day Cream (€120), dabbed about five euros’ worth on my hand and started to screw the lid back on the jar—at which point the lid, the jar and the paddle slipped out of my hand and landed at my feet. Luckily, the Anti-Ageing Day Cream is so thick that almost all of it survived the fall.

There was, however, about two euros’ worth on my left leg and at least three euros’ worth on my finger. Had my finger accidentally gone into the jar? Oh no. In the style of Mr. Bean I began to rub the cream onto the back of my left hand. I’d hoped in vain, rather like the Bean himself, that I could get rid of it before anyone noticed; but the more I rubbed, the whiter my hand got.

“Can I be of assistance?” A salesperson must have heard me yelp.

“I’ve had an—”

“Oh, that is really too much. You have taken way too much.”

“It was an accident.”

“Did you stick your finger in it?”

“No, of course not. I used the paddle, like every time.”

“Like every time?”

“Oh, I think I hear my flight boarding. Yes, yes. That's my flight. Sorry . . .”

I think I’ll hold off moisturizing at Duty Free in the Munich airport for a while. Sad though. My left hand has never felt so soft.

I must be off,

Friday, July 16, 2010

Waka Waka!

This year I didn’t travel to Africa; Africa came to me—and millions of other people, but hey.

I don’t love football. But this year the World Cup wasn’t about football. It was about uncountable hordes dressing up like idiots and smiling themselves silly (and blowing that darn vuvuzela thing until their lungs burst). I don’t know about you, but after the first or second game, I put the TV on mute and watched the 22 millionaires kick the ball around in beautiful silence.

During the last few days of the world football championship, I was tooling along the curvy Mosel river in Germany, listening to the radio and enjoying the air-conditioner. It was 100 degrees outside, and Germany had already lost to Spain in the semi-finals. So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t so interested in football.

But then the DJ broadcast an interview with Shakira. I love Shakira. Say what you want; I’ll just stick my fingers in my ears and yell, “I love Shakira” for thirty minutes. Then I’ll open one eye to make sure you’ve left. Then I’ll whisper, “I love you, Shakira. Waka waka.”

Waka Waka

When Shakira arrived in South Africa for the World Cup, the customs officers sang and danced “Waka Waka” with her. I love these customs officers, too. I love anyone who’ll sing and dance with me (no, I rarely believe I’m Shakira, but that’s another story). That’s what the World Cup is about. “Waka Waka,” by the way, was originally released in 1986 by Golden Sounds from Cameroon and was titled "Tsamina" or "Zangaléwa.”

Golden Sounds Version

“Wavin’ Flag (The Celebration Mix),” another official World Cup song is derived from a song about war. The original lyrics—quite seriously depressing—have been spiffed up for the World Cup version, a happy song that makes me smile. The original version makes me think. It also makes me want to dance with Africa. It still has many problems, but then we all do.

Wavin' Flag

Yesterday in the pedestrian zone in Munich, an African group were playing xylophones and singing. I got very emotional. Either I’m pregnant (which I find highly unlikely), or I’ve been touched by Africa’s visit. This time for Africa.

I must be off,