I was Christmas shopping at the mall when the woman in a white lab coat jumped in front of me, blocking my path.
"Ma'am, do you worry about the moisture in your skin?" Her tone was shrill and a tad desperate. Apparently, it had been a long day. Her bumpit was listing to one side as though she was hiding a chocolate muffin for later above her left ear.
Clutching a pump dispenser of lotion, she seemed hell-bent on getting the goop on my hands.
"Give me your hand! I will make it beautiful!"
Unless she was planning on giving me the diamond eternity band that I've been hinting to Duh Hubby about for the better part of 12 Christmases, this conversation was officially over.
"No, thanks," I muttered. I didn't get far before another kiosk vendor, this time a man in a shiny shirt and tight black pants, gave me his best smile-by-Lumineers and asked, "Madam, if I may ask, wouldn't you love to have the shiny hairs?"
Ooooh, the shiny hairs.
He was holding some sort of flatiron gizmo that would've fried my baby-fine hair in under three seconds, a fact which didn't deter him in the least.
I hated to think where that thing had been. I'm no Mr. Monk, but I'm pretty danged close. The thought that I'd let a stranger put something in my hair that had been on at least 500 other random heads that day made my hot-dog-wrapped-in-pretzel-dough lunch nearly come up. Or maybe that's just the way you always feel after eating those.
I scurried away and he yelled at me: "I just want to show you something AMAZING!"
Something told me it wasn't his Mensa scores.
There were other offers, of neck and shoulder massages (too gross to even think about, this notion of strangers touching strangers between the Dippin' Dots and the "Stuff-Your-Own-Freakin'-Bear!" kiosks.)
There was even a Mrs. Santa type dressed in a light-up apron and hawking cones of glazed pecans with the passion of the dirt-caked toddlers I saw selling Chiclets to tourists in Tijuana years ago. Farther along, a jewelry cleaner salesman demanded: "Give me your rings!!!" and I reflexively looked for his gun.
In the meantime, a teenager grinned demonically while tossing a toy glider plane dangerously close to my head. He must've visited an Ecstasy kiosk a little earlier.
A tiny woman sprang like a cheetah toward me: "Can I see your nails, Miss? I make them healthy for you."
I kept walking which made her frown. "You no want bee-you-tee-ful nails?"
"Oh, G0d, no!" I said. "And no soft hands, clean rings, pecan cones, eye-putting-out toy planes, shiny hairs or public backrubs either."
But there was one thing I really did want. Another hot dog wrapped in a pretzel. I'm not an idiot, after all.