I used to be addicted to infomercials. I’d wake up early on Sunday mornings to watch them then beg my mother to consider Ron Popeil’s Showtime Rotisserie Oven. How badly I wanted to “Set it and forget it!” How I longed to buy anything that would cost me just four easy payments of only $19.99!
No matter the particulars of the product it sold, each segment adopted a similar format. First, a mustachioed man and his enthusiastic sidekick would narrate some household grievance: “Are you tired of chopping onions and mincing garlic?” Or: “Do you wish you could blend exotic smoothies at home?” Then: boy, did they have the solution for you.
For twenty-five minutes, this pair of hosts proceeded to extoll the virtues of such indispensable home goods as the Magic Bullet and Miracle Blade knives. They presented the new and improved Talavera Split-Ender Maxi Kit (“Say goodbye to split ends forever!”) and a motorized can opener endowed with life-saving properties.
Of course, I could be swayed by less sophisticated schemes as well. After perusing an article entitled, “Prom Prep!” in an old issue of Seventeen, I sent away for a vial of Costa Rican tea-tree oil. My ashen locks did not assume reflective properties, but I did spend several days smelling like hand sanitizer. Last month, I had to actively resist the urge to purchase a Shake Weight at Target.
In retrospect, I’m surprised it took me so long to discover luxury facial spray. 30mL bottles of “Beauty Elixir” are exactly the kind of shams that the Home Shopping Network and my childhood dreams were made of. But despite my weakness for Sharper Image catalogues, I spent many happy years ignorant of caviar-infused creams or Evian Mineral Water Spray.
The Popeil Automatic Pasta Maker was productive and timesaving. But an undrinkable $12 bottle of water? Not for me.
We were first introduced in an apothecary some blocks from my apartment. It was fall. I had ambled into the boutique on a whim, but no sooner had I crossed its lacquered threshold than a pore-less saleswoman — or, you know, fate —intervened.
“This season is so hard on the skin,” she said.
I nodded noncommittally.
“Have you ever tried Eau de Beauté?”
I had not.
Without warning, she sprayed it in my face.
Using the kind of voice that had once narrated the Sunday mornings of my youth, she prattled on about grape-seed extract and free radicals, but I was no longer listening. I was too busy inhaling the most intoxicating scent I’d ever encountered. My skin felt fresh and rejuvenated. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a mirror. Had my eyes always shone so brightly? Had my complexion ever looked so radiant? Did I want to say goodbye to dry skin forever? Indeed, I did.
I bought it immediately. And unlike that tropical nut oil or the vaguely masochistic Japanese hair accouterment that languishes in the back of my medicine cabinet, I’ve been stockpiling it ever since.
I mist it on before flights and subway rides. I spray it on after lunch and before dinner and in the morning so that my eyeliner smudges just so. It reminds me of my grandmother and Albus Dumbledore. It makes me happy.
Facial mist isn’t going to ward off deep wrinkles or fine lines or evil spirits — not even one purportedly inspired by Queen Isabelle of Hungary’s “elixir of youth” is capable of so much. But every once in a while, it’s nice to buy into a myth. And given that the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer after which I once lusted retails for two easy payments of only $49.99, eighteen bucks doesn’t seem like such a high price to pay.
You must be guilty of a similar charge so let’s air out our feckless, feel good splurges, shall we?
Illustration by Charlotte Fassler