On our recent trip to Maui, we went into the nearest town of Lihue to browse through the obligatory tourist gift (junk) shops. This experience is something all tourists must do when in a new city. Usually, all we ever buy is a Christmas ornament for a souvenir. Hubby generally finds one or two ornaments in the first shop we visit, and thus sees no need to enter another store, as we are “done.” I, on the other hand, prefer to roam through at least a half-dozen more establishments because, invariably, I see a Christmas ornament I like much better than the first ones we bought, always at a cheaper price. But since our Christmas tree can support only so many ornaments, I refuse to buy another from Maui. Still, who knows what other treasures await that I might miss? Younger Son, who was just along for the ride, inevitably manages to find a “must have” overpriced item that he will either break or lose on the first day.

I had pretty much exhausted Hubby’s good nature to peruse gift shops after about thirty minutes, and as we walked quickly past each additional shop with Hubby asking, “Do you want to go in this one?”—the obvious answer being, “no,” of course—a clerk accosted us on the sidewalk with a “free sample” of a skin care product. We each accepted one, as it would be rude to refuse, and before we knew it, she had managed to kidnap us into the salon.

Now let me just say that I can count on one hand (probably one finger or less) the number of times I have ever stepped foot into a beauty salon other than for a haircut (and I don’t need anyone to point out that they can tell I don’t patronize these establishments). Before I knew it, she had applied an innovative, miracle “stem cell” treatment (developed by a real doctor) to the bags under my eyes. Within minutes, the bags had magically disappeared! Okay, she had me. I hate my baggy under eyes. Granted, it felt like someone had sucked all the feeling out of my skin, but who cared? She kept up a running dialogue to Hubby and Younger Son about how much younger and beautiful I looked. Then she applied it to Hubby’s eyes (even as he rolled his eyes), and I must say, he looked great. She promised this treatment would last for a week. AND, if I purchased this product for a mere $399, the salon would perform a free non-surgical face lift on us. Okay, by this time, I was ready to get out of there, even if I had to fork over $399 to do so, as her over-the-top salesmanship was wearing me out. She took my money (what I chump I am), and set up an appointment for the face-lift, which I never intended to keep.

But WAIT! By a shear stroke of luck, they just “happened” to have a cancellation for RIGHT THEN, and we could have the treatment NOW! There was no backing out. Hubby and I were ushered into the back, where another high-pitch salesman-technician demonstrated another new technology using red light and blue light, along with stem cells, designed to tighten our skin and produce new collagen, blah, blah, blah. We even had to watch two videos touting the science and rationale behind the development of these products by an actual MD. Then the technician applied the cream to half our faces and used the lights, which actually felt pretty nice. And yes, we could see a difference between the two sides of our faces. Poor Hubby was mortified, as he has no vanity whatsoever, and is more than content to live with gray hair and wrinkles rather than submit to “foo-foo” treatments. By this time, we’d been there for about an hour and a half. I kept mouthing to Hubby, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” I know this was NOT the way he wanted to spend his vacation. Me either, for that matter. While we were undergoing our beauty transformation, the salon sat Younger Son in another area and gave him a complimentary face mask. (I’m not talking Halloween, although he did look rather scary.)

After demonstrating the remarkable products, the technician then dropped the bomb shell. The lights were only $5000 apiece, which came with free stem cell cream. Okay, parting with an unintended $399 was one thing. Ten thousand dollars was quite another. When we politely said we would have to think about it, he lost interest in us, stuffed some literature into our hands, and began to escort us out.

“Wait!” I cried. “Aren’t you going to do the other half of our faces?”

“No, the effects will wear off in about eight hours,” he informed us.

“So we have to walk around looking like we had a stroke for the next eight hours?” I began to panic, but he clearly wasn’t concerned, as he left the room, leaving us no choice but to exit.

We collected poor Younger Son and made our escape. I put on my sunglasses and pulled my visor low over my face. Then we hightailed it back to the car and back to our condo, not daring to be lured into any more businesses.

I needn’t have been concerned. In the hour since we left the salon, my face was back to its normal saggy, wrinkly state, including my puffy eyes that were supposed to be unpuffy for a week. Who has time to go through an hour-and-a-half beauty routine that just lasts for an hour? Being beautiful is too much work. And beauty is more than skin deep. It’s also deep in the wallet.