Today, I bought some make-up.
I did not realise before I entered the shop how difficult the process would be, else I might never have taken the first steps on the long and arduous road to purchase some new foundation. I may well have considered that remaining flawed and blotchy forever would be an easier course of action than the one I was about to take. And believe me, I AM flawed and blotchy. Don't be fooled into thinking that would be a sight that would not scare small children and give old ladies fainting fits. It would. But perhaps I would not have cared about the pain of others, had I known that which I would have to endure myself.
I knew what I wanted, but they didn't sell it. They sold something really quite like it though - almost exactly the same, in fact - from a different manufacturer but 'they make ours anyway, so there's no difference'.
Only when I had naively sat in a chair at the make-up counter did the sales assistant add "Of course, our products are completely different to one you already have". I tried to move, but the bright light shining in my eyes prevented me from doing so, and I swear that invisible stealth-belts had silently and swiftly pinned me to the chair.
"Our products are more natural. Because we are more...fragrance-free and 'clinical'", the assistant assured me. "You know what I mean", she said, as a statement rather than a question.
I didn't know what she meant in the slightest but before I could inform her of this fact and ask her to clarify it in a way that made actual sense, she had loomed over me and scrubbed my cheek with a damp ball of cotton wool.
Instinctively I jerked my head away from her. "What are you doing?" I hissed, crossly.
"Oh, is it cold? Sorry." She smiled a slightly frightening smile. The fear I felt may have come from the fact that now she was standing at an angle which meant I was looking up at her, I could see the line on her jaw where her bare skin and her made-up skin joined.
"No, I mean what are you..."
"Just keep still for me there, that's it" she commanded, her hands steadying my head and preventing me from speaking, while she proceeded to slop foundation in a completely incongruous shade on to my newly cleansed face.
"I don't think that one..." I started, but trailed off as she quickly and thickly applied a stripe of a different colour below it, and a third below that.
"Right, I'll just serve this lady while you just sit there for a moment so we can see if your skin likes them" she breezed. "Don't worry, you won't look like a Red Indian for long!"
So I sat in a shop, the spotlight upon me, wondering whether there could be a more politically-incorrect remark for her to make, and sheepishly realised that I was trapped. Even without the invisible stealth-belts, I could hardly walk out of the shop and through the town with three big stripes across one side of my face. I mean, I like Adam Ant as much as the next person, but I have no desire to actually be mistaken for him.
Eventually, she returned. I had to admit, begrudgingly, that one of the stripes, when applied at a lesser ratio of half-pot of foundation : 2 square inches of skin actually looked quite good.
She scrubbed the rest off and applied the one I liked again on the whole of my cheek. I ripped through the stealth-belts and demanded that I take the mirror to the doorway to inspect the results in natural light, since she clearly hadn't performed that vital step herself. Perhaps she had done it purposely, as a warning to her customers. But I doubt it.
It looked fine.
I had a slight dilemma now. Buy this product from this scary lady who uses racist terminology and assaults women by cotton wool without prior consent.
Or face the prospect of having to do this again.
"How much is it?" I asked.
It was a few pounds less than the product I had originally intended to buy.
"I'll take it", I told her, as I shamefully sold my principles for the royal sum of £4.00.
To all persons native to America, I apologise. But in my defence, it really does look nice.