Planning ahead to Father's Day, I decided I would capitalize on my mall visit with a gift purchase of cologne for my dad. He deserves it. However, he enjoys a hard to find cologne called "Fujiyama," which sounds more like a brand of motorcycle or camera than after-shave.
In the past I have had luck at Boston Store, which I am convinced Satan devised as a front for doing his evil bidding on unsuspecting shoppers such as myself. It's just entertainment for the Lord of the Underworld, as he sits on his couch and eats popcorn in front of his big plasma screen--reality television for the damned.
The entrance to Boston Store, with its imposing white facade and blinding florescent lighting shiny down upon wet looking white tiles should be the first clue. Anything made to resemble the heavenly lights of salvation must be hiding something more sinister.
Those floor tiles have been waxed to a level that a soccer player wearing metal cleats would still be forced to walk with tentative steps or end up on his back looking up at the smiling painted on faces of pale, pasty mannequins proudly showing off the latest fashion trends.
I felt like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade as I tip-toed my way across the floor without falling. My patience yielded success, which brought me to a much more dangerous task: avoiding interaction with fragance sales clerks.
It cannot be easy to work on commission, and I feel pity for these hard working women (there were no men present); but I cannot help but think that these women must have been serial killers or child abusers in past lives to deserve such a fate as sitting behind a counter schmoozing customers in attempts to finagle the last dollar out of their wallets.
I wisely stayed on the outside perimeter, somewhat in the middle of the walkway, and I only took furtive glances at the cases in attempt to spy the correct box. This way a clerk would not know I was looking at the fragrance; I could be nonchalantly passing by with a languishing gait. I even looked off in other directions as if I were trying to hunt down renegade children or other family members.
And then I saw it, out of the corner of my eye, the box with the little silver foiled stripe, grey lettering--kind of like if the Beatles' White Album had been repackaged into a fragrance. Score. With my newly found bookstore confidence, I sauntered up to the counter prepared to barter and dodge enticements of upgrades to box sets including decorative soaps.
No sooner did I get close enough to the case to realize that the box was not the correct brand then a voice from behind me chimed in with, "May I help you, Sir."
It was like acid to my ears.
Turning to the side, a rather robust woman in her mid-50s smiled up at me. Her black hair was pulled back into a severe ponytail and had a wet sheen; black eye-liner made her blue eyes burrow deep into my soul as she invaded my personal space.
I had been snared in their cologne cage, and I stole a glance at the case to give a quick but deadly glare at the box that looked so similar to the cologne I desired.
After a brief explanation, she grew giddy and told me to follow her into the bowels of the fragrance department. With head hung low, I followed. She popped behind a counter and started to search the shelves.
"Huh," she said tossing me a look over her shoulders (and was that a saucy smirk I spied on her lips) as she said in hushed tones: "It looks like we don't carry that any longer. However, we do have...."
And it began.
White business cards with brand names were produced, sprayed upon, fanned in the air, and passed under my nose as she went on and on about the similarities between X-brand of cologne with the one I was wanting.
"This one may not be suitable for your father, but this is quite popular with the young ladies..." she said with a little wink as if we were sharing a secret.
Various sizes and shapes of bottles started to clutter the glass counter top as I politely refused each. Why couldn't I carry my cellphone with me like every other human being on the planet? No, I had to leave it my car all the time--if I carried it, I could have feigned a call from anyone, the President of the United States if I wanted, just so I had a means to get out of the fiery pits of fragrance Hell!
Instead, I did what any spineless, introverted people-pleaser personality would do: I bought something. My head spinning from the blends of smells, the woman thrust yet another piece of paper under my nose.
With a fear of throwing up or passing out, I didn't even inhale. "Oooo, I like this one," came out of my mouth instead. And before I could say another word, she had wisked me over to the cash register where she gleefully punched in the numbers that would give her a little added cash in her own wallet.
I was exhausted. No one bothered me now that I had a Boston Store bag in my hands; next time I'll just carry an empty one with me when I enter the store. But, for this day, I had danced the forbidden fragrance dance with Satan's minions, and I did not escape unscathed. $75 later, I'm the proud owner of some blue, smelly liquid that I'm not even sure I like.
I'm sure the whole incident will probably rank as one of Satan's favorite episodes of "Boston Store: Where the Children of God Get Screwed Over."