In my family I had four brothers and one sister. When I was a young girl my mother had this Avon lady come to the house. I loved this lady as if she were my fairy Godmother. She had tiny white tubes of lipstick samples and catalogs small enough to fit in my extremely petite hands. Why did my mother have an Avon lady? I don’t know! My mother didn’t wear make-up nor did we have any extra money. Maybe my mother wanted to do something nice for us girls among all of those boys. Or perhaps, more likely my mother, much like myself, couldn’t say no to people. (Me at every knock on my door: sure I would love to hear about Jesus, Yes I would love to hear about your cause, sure please try to sell me the meat and fish that is in your van on this exceptionally hot day….I don’t want to be rude, I leave that for my husband, you’re welcome hubby!) Either way we had an Avon Lady, and I loved her.
One day my mother would say “Oh crap, Mrs. Whichadinger is coming today!” (sidebar, 1st: I actually thought her name was Mrs. Whichadinger. My mother was my MOM and what she said was gospel and also I didn’t know she was cool and gave people snappy nicknames. 2nd: What I actually heard was “Our fancy cosmetics lady is coming so go grab your catalog from which you dug out of the trash when no one was looking and circled all of your favorite things” Let’s be real, I wanted just about everything so there were over a hundred red crayon circles in that tiny book of magical goodness. My sister (whom I always compared to the good and naturally beautiful Mary Ingalls, never appeared to want anything….I on the other hand was more like…you know the other one…..what was her name? OH yeah, Wednesday Adams from the Adam’s family…I was pale and had huge circles under my eyes…and not really that good and wholesome.)
So Mrs. Whichadinger showed up and didn’t let the woman ducking around the corner deter her from knocking incessantly because there I was all two and half feet of me…holding my red circled catalog over my heart ready to pledge my oath to beauty….with all of my want and dreams. Stars in my eyes bigger than my parents bank account…..I was her real customer and Mrs. Whichadinger probably knew it. “Mom, she’s here!” I called out in my breathy lust for anything she would sell me and the samples, don’t get me started on those samples. My poor mother stood up and brushed the wrinkles out of her clothes with defeat and came out from her hiding spot to let Mrs. Whichadinger in. There she was my lovely Mrs. Whichadinger and her caddy of samples ready to show us all of the things we cannot afford.
Now my mom, again probably like me and can’t say no to this woman who is clearly trying to make a living selling cosmetics to strangers, buys her usual item “Skin so soft”. I know some of you love this item and perhaps you have great stories about this product removing tar from your favorite shirt or saving you from that swarm of killer bees. But to this little girl (who dressed up in her best dress for the Avon lady to visit) with her wish list several miles long….skin so soft wasn’t on it. Is this why I still to this day hate that product? I don’t know (you’re bitter) But I can tell you there is a reason it scares away bugs. Because it stinks! Once my mother put in her order and handed Mrs. Whichadinger her meager check….off she went. I watched her as she carried her satchel of fun and loaded back into her car…just once I wished she would accidentally leave it here..I hope she wills it to me when she dies (if Fairy Godmothers even do die, which I doubt) I sit at the window as she drives away…daydreaming about make overs and other practical things. I eventually was pulled back to reality and reality came in a blue and white bottle of stink.
I didn’t cry because I was always told to be happy with what you get. But what I was about to get was a year long supply of skin so soft baths! (first of all it was the seventies before they realized that what they actually created was bug repellent and car fuel. Second of all, What did they sell it for? To force your kids to bathe in it, it was for your bath….it was for MY bath) Don’t get it in your eyes because that shit burns! Don’t get it in your mouth because, weren’t you listening, that shit burns. Don’t get it in your hair because it doesn’t wash out. I used to call it ‘hair so slimy’. But this doesn’t make me hate my cosmetically genius Mrs. Whichadinger….it just makes me lustful for the big tube of blushing pink lipstick or that really cool pallet of eyeshadow that resembles a rainbow.
I knew it wasn’t going to last when Mrs. Whichadinger didn’t come around much. My mother probably told her the truth, we had enough skin so soft to soften the skin of all of the elephants in Africa. Or the real truth, she didn’t wear make-up. Or the real, real truth, that we didn’t have any money. However, one day, (insert the harps of heaven) there she was, that glorious woman with her really oddly colored black hair piled atop of her head and her bright blue eye shadow and her purple cheeks with lips and nails to match, shopping at our grocery store. There she was, that woman that I admired and secretly hoped that she would adopt me (for like a week tops because I didn’t want a new mom, I just wanted an unlimited supply of make-up and I was afraid of the dark and my mom knew how to save me from that.) I would recognize that angelic woman anywhere. I saw her and without pause, I stuck my hand in the air and waved it ferociously…my smile growing ever wider…eyes all lit up like sparklers and I yelled “Hello, Mrs. Whichadinger! Hi! Hi! Mrs. Whichadinger, hello!” ……
…….What happened next, I can only explain as mass confusion and utter chaotic embarrassment. Not to mention the scolding of a lifetime. How was I to know that wasn’t her real name? My mother called her that EVERY TIME!!!!
Moral of my story: if you are going to dole out snappy nicknames to people, let your kids in on it or suffer the embarrassment of losing your Avon contact and your lifetime use of skin so soft in your bath. (honestly if you showed up at my mother’s house she probably has that bottle in her closet…because no one really wanted to use it. Hey mom, maybe you could sell it on eBay…there maybe some vintage bottle collector on there willing to pay a fortune for that stuff?!!) Also we weren’t allowed to buy bubble bath I once asked and my mother said “No, bubble bath gives you urinary tract infections”….and I still make that mistake. UGH!!!! Bubblebaths are luxurious until you burn when you pee! But skin so soft didn’t cause burning when you pee and was deemed safe for my urinary health…because it has like 190% alcohol in it….and it was oily…chemical ingenuity in a plastic bottle sold by little old ladies everywhere. Get yours today. 🙂
So that is my story of our Avon lady Mrs. Whichadinger…. I never did learn her real name….it will forever be Mrs. Whichadinger to me….I hope you enjoyed…
Until next time when I talk about being in the Justice League of our Living room. 🙂