“I look old and I hate it,” I say to a friend over Skype. “Should I try some fancy anti-aging cream?”
“Try a homemade mask,” she says and sends me a Youtube link. “It’s a Brazilian woman, she’s very popular.”
I don’t speak Portuguese but click on the link anyway. The ‘Brazilian’ woman is blond and speaks English with an Australian accent.
The recipe of the homemade mask that promises youth and beauty in ten minutes and forever is simple. A tablespoon of turmeric powder, some milk, two drops of oil. The ‘Brazilian’ applies the mix to her face to demonstrate how smoothly it looks. Then she washes it off and claims that, due to this mask, she always looks young and fresh and pretty without any make-up.
“Well, she is young and fresh and pretty,” I think. “She barely needs any mask at all.” But I have an hour before my son leaves school so I decide to give it a try. What do I have to lose?
I prepare the pumpkin-colored mix and spread it over my face. When the mask dries I rinse it off and look at myself in the mirror.
My skin looks fresh and smooth and pretty. And it’s bright-yellow.
“Oh my god!” I’m ready to faint. “I have to leave in half an hour! And go outside! Where there are people!”
I grab face cleanser and nervously rub it into my face. My face is still yellow. I grab soap. It works. The yellow turns green. My skin is still surprisingly soft and tender. I could be the most attractive corpse in the cemetery beauty pageant.
“I have to leave in ten minutes!”
I call to the friend who sent me the damn link and skip all the preambles, “My face is green because of this stupid mask! Was it a prank?”
My friend sounds innocent and surprised, “Has it stained your skin? Really? They should inform about this, don’t you think?”
“I’ve no time to think! What can I do?”
“Uhm… Well… Maybe, try olive oil. They say it cleans the skin.”
I hang up. I won’t add greasy glitter to my already olive face. I take a deep breath and think. Then I grab a bottle of baby cream and a roll of kitchen towels. After five minutes of aggressive scrubbing I sit before a huge pile of dirty paper, and a desperate red face with greyish-green spots all over it looks at me from the mirror.
I give up. Seven blocks of shame on the way to school are inevitable.
In the street, I fix on the tips of my shoes. I don’t look at people. They look at me.
I rush into the school, grasp my son’s hand and turn to leave.
“Are you all right?” My son’s teacher stares at me. “You seem… agitated.”
“Uhm… Yeah… I don’t feel well.” I put my hand on the stomach to prove it and pull my son outside.
We almost run home and bump into Mrs. Gossip right next to the house.
“Hi Joan! Have you heard what happened to…” She breaks off and stares at me for fifteen long seconds.
Great! Now all neighbors will talk about my green face.
“You look… somewhat younger,” she finally says. “Have you used Botox?”
I search for sarcasm in her eyes but find only disapproval and envy. She keeps talking about how inappropriate it is to do what I’ve done, but I don’t listen. She said ‘younger’! The mask works! I’ll have to do it again!