Last night I had the single most horrifying experience of my life. It didn’t involve a severed human torso or carnies with brown Chiclet teeth; those things I can handle. This experience took me completely out of my comfort zone and into some alternate universe where faces are spackled and painted, each hair is frozen into place with layers of Aquanet, and you can hear bangles jingling from down the hall.
I attended a Mary Kay holiday meeting.
Not the kind that takes place in someone’s home with friends or women you vaguely know pushing their lip glosses and hand moisturizers. Those are bad enough. But this was a whole different animal.
It started when my friend Becky asked if I wanted to go to a Mary Kay thing where you learn about color and get a free lip gloss. Sounds kind of fun, right? I asked where it was taking place and she said the Holiday Inn down the street. That should have been my first clue. I didn’t have shit else to do so I agreed to go.
We pulled up at the Holiday Inn at 7 p.m. and walked down a corridor until we reached a table manned by two middle aged women who were entirely too perky. They gave us name tags and we were ushered into the meeting room. Becky and I sat down next to her friend that had invited us there. After a few minutes of chatting a woman with a high pitched voice and a red apron yelled at everyone in the full room to pipe down.
She immediately launched into her welcome spiel in which she equated Mary Kay to a sorority for adults. I should have bolted for the door at that very moment. She then announced that there was lots of recognition to be given that night. She asked the women who had sold $100 or more that week to stand up and then told the women who had sold $200 or more to remain standing and so forth until she reached $800.
Of course we were encouraged to clap each time and by the time the final woman was left standing the whole room was in a frenzy. I’ve never seen grown women act this way in real life. Jumping up and down and borderline crying. It was like an Oprah’s Favorite Things episode.
After the hour of recognition was over we had a short break. I wanted to grab Becky and make a run for it but I kept my composure. Every time she would glance over at me I would make a face and we’d both start laughing.
After the break it was time for the main event. The displays of makeup, skin care items, perfumes and holiday shit. The head Klansman asked one of the women in the back of the room, “Mary Beth Ann, why don’t you start by talking about our Mary Kay fragrances?” And sweet Jesus, was Mary Beth Ann excited. She ran through the whole line and then turned the show over to another woman who discussed the skin care products and so forth.
We were then given a 15 minute break to test the products during which I just watched Becky try on different eye shadows. At one point the head Klansman came over to me and asked if I would like to try any of the products. As I tried my best to politely smile and disguise the fact that I was counting her spackled-over crows feet, I shook my head and said, “No thanks, just looking.”
Then came my favorite part of the night. The time when one of the junior Klansmen was brought to the front of the room to “Share the Mary Kay Opportunity.” She passed out a slip of pink paper to each of the guests and asked us to take notes. Take notes? Is she fucking out of her mind?! When Becky looked at me I pretended to slit my wrists and we both started silently laughing again. I had to cover my face with my hand to keep from being a complete asshole.
The whole thing was extremely cultish. I was waiting for them to bring out the Kool-Aid, but it never happened. I avoided the coffee just to be on the safe side.