At Bloomingdales fragrance counter a small woman, short-cropped grey hair, barrels through the crowd of holiday shoppers. She's on a mission.
Two women are blocking her from the coveted counter. "Get the fuck outta my way!" she spits, and they step aside to witness the show: Two grubby hands reach up to a tray filled with Chanel perfume testers. This woman knows what she wants, toppling over a couple bottles (clink, clink!) as she aggressively plucks it from the tray: The scent of JOY.
She then turns around and drowns herself in the stuff. She thinks she's being surreptitious, but honey, the woman is pumping out that tester like her life depended on it. Pump quick pump quick pump quick; her body, hands, clothes are covered. She feverishly sprays a puddle into her hands, rubs it through her short-cropped hair, and back down for more.
Danger: lack of Joy may induce symptoms of withdrawal
I watch her empty the tester, stunned. Mainly, I wish she'd just stuff it in her pocket and walk out. At least then the place wouldn't reek of pungent Joy. Ick.
"You've got enough of that on." I say. She keeps on. Furiously, madly, angrily, she pumps the bottle. Every last spritz she's able to steal is a major boon because she knows: I might stop her.
"Do you have any more?" she asks without looking up. She's distracting me, getting in a few more pumps. "It's Christmas," I say. "Leave some for others."
"I want more, do you have any more?" She says, crazy-like, and pumps pumps pumps again. She's dripping wet with Joy. Doused. Where's a match when I need one?
Through a choking mist of fragrance, I step in with authority. She puts it back on the counter and runs out. The tester is empty. Mission accomplished! The bottle is sweaty wet from all the action.
The manager returns from lunch, waving his hand before his nose. "What happened in here?" He asks, and before we can answer he notices the empty tester."Did Ann drop by?" He raises an eyebrow.
"Small older woman? Short-cropped grey hair?" I nod yes. "That's Ann."
Why is it that insane people always have unassuming little names like Ann?
Apparently, Ann regularly drops by to bathe in Joy. "She got away with it this time," he says.
Usually, he stops her before she reaches the counter. "How do you stop her?" I wonder.
"I hide the Joy," says the manager.
From the looks of Ann, he's not the first.
Byron - Byron, age 3Arroyo Grande, California (1969) I ran across this picture in a box of photographs. I don't even remember taking it. My mother used to like to ...
5 days ago