Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Layover Trilogy: Estee Lauder Is Dead But She Still Looks Good


There isn't as much to do during an eight-hour layover in LAX airport as you'd think. Once you've learned everything you can about your immediate environment, all that's left is to learn it over, harder. If you happen also to be playing Travel Scrabble with a man who always wins because he takes up to forty-five minutes to consider what move will jam the board up the worst until you're so sick of looking at the game that you drop in some dumb-ass word as soon as you get the chance so that it will at least appear that time is not standing still--say--you have lots of time to study your surroundings.

Such as an enormous ad for Estee Lauder Perfectionist wrinkle cream featuring an attractive 23-year-old model who, indeed, seems to have her wrinkle problem well in hand. The ad proclaims that their product is "the first wrinkle lifting serum using CP+R technology," and I have no basis upon which to dispute it. In fact, I suspect it is true. There may be only a limited number of wrinkle lifting sera out there, and even if one or two of them use CP+R technology, they probably wouldn't say they were the first unless they really were. Such a bold statement, so easily disproved. And they mean business--you can tell because it's a serum. "Save the serum!" the mortally wounded scientist hollers into the wind as the precious bottle goes whacketing down the swollen river and the life of a major protagonist hangs in the balance. Serum is serious.

My companion places five tiles on the Scrabble board, hesitates for several minutes with his finger on the last, and peels them back off again.

But wait. "Serum" specifically refers to the clear fluid obtained from various animal tissues, such as blister goo, or blood with the red crunchy bits taken out. Can Estee really go around claiming to have rendered the snot out of critters for her potions? I decide that the word is being employed in a poetic manner, in the service of marketing, and as long as no outrageous claims are being made, no harm is being done. "Goo," after all,  would not have the same emotional appeal to a potential customer facing the heartbreak of looking her age. Estee gets a pass, I conclude charitably, as my companion places his tiles and begins laboriously to tot up his score.

He has used all his letters, and yet five of them are adhered to other letters in such a way that there is no real opportunity to hang any good words on them. I slap down a word in a clear spot devoid of bonus squares, squandering my "X." I fire up the wrinkles between where my eyebrows used to be, and resolve to get to the bottom of CP+R technology. I look it up. CP+R stands for Correct, Protection, and Repair. That's irritating right  there. Why not Correction, Protection, and Repair? Or Correct, Protect, and Repair? Get me Edit!

But then it gets interesting.  Perfectionist is made of a patented combination of natural artemia extract, whey, and Chlorella vulgaris, which is not, as it sounds, something you might pick up in the locker room at the Y, but a micro-alga. Which means that for only ninety bucks per eensy beansy bottle, you can rub your face with a paste of cheese, pond scum, and dead brine shrimp. Brine shrimp live in very salty water and yet rarely come out wrinkly; they may be on to something.

My companion taps on the table with his tiles. Tap tap tap. Tap tap tappity tap. Tap tap tap. I glance at my tile rack and wonder if the Scrabble dictionary accepts "FUCKER."

After four weeks of applying the pond scum-brine shrimp-cheese serum, the skin looks (it says here) redensified, and its collagen-building power is doubled. I haven't asked my skin to go to any extra trouble for me, so its power, doubled, would still be zero. Also, one is advised to "pay particular attention to your deepest wrinkles." Which, I don't know, seems as though it could go without saying. I've got another four hours before I have to even think about finding my gate.  Plenty of time to imagine which hopeful customer, in receipt of an extravagant bottle of ointment, decides to dab a bit in the laugh lines at the corner of her eyes and trust fairy poop to fill in the big suckers.

My companion, with due deliberation, lays out his last tiles and collects an extra eighteen points for my stranded letters. The skin between where my eyebrows used to be knits up in a serum-defying way. I'd try the stuff myself, if it were free, and came with a beer.


73 comments:

  1. Thought you two Scrabble fans might enjoy reading this :-

    http://www.savory.de/blog_nov_09.htm#20091112

    Stu

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    1. Oh! You have WAY more sensitivity than I.

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  2. There are two kinds of Scrabble players: Those who like to play for fun and those who not only aim to win, but want to chop up their opponents into little pieces with an arrogant, superior and disdainful look on the face... My sister is like that (but only when she plays Scrabble)... ;-)

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    1. It's the calm "I can do this all night" look that gets me. Our family used to be pretty fierce about word games, but I got back at them all (being the baby) by insisting on one annual game of Pit.

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    2. Oh, Pit! I'll take you on at Pit any day, my friend! WHEAT! WHEAT! WHEAT!

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    3. I think you mean THREE! THREE! THREE!

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  3. A pox on all lady face-products advertisers that use children to advertise their products. They should be required to use only those ladies who actually NEED those face-products. I have come to the conclusion that in the Good Skin Lottery you win only if you have good genes and dumb luck. But you can stack the deck more in your favor if you keep your face filled out a bit with fat cells. They fill out the wrinkles nicely.

    Maybe you can slow your Scrabble companion down a bit with Themed Scrabble.....only certain words can be used. FUCKER is a word.

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    1. I am taking your word for it. [penciling it into the dictionary]
      I probably had a good start on really wrinkly skin when I was younger, but moving to the Pacific Northwest has at least eliminated sun exposure for nine months of the year.

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  4. What a great post. My father played Scrabble to win, as he did with all games, which made playing not so much fun sometimes. I was just his foil. Your description of this magical skin potion is priceless, kind of like those teensy bottles of fairy snot.

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    1. But that's really what is in it! Do I ever make things up?

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  5. I couldn't resist looking at the words already on the board. Quatorze? That must have been one of your opponent's plays. I rubbed my own deep wrinkles after reading this and decided I like them as is. No goo for me.

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  6. Aw, come on, Murr, you know we can all look like 23-year-olds if we just use the right skin cream. *snork!*

    My "skin regimen" consists of sticking my face under the shower and then slapping on some sunscreen. It doesn't do a thing to hide the wrinkles, but if I drink a few beers, I find I don't care anymore. Maybe your Scrabble games need beer...

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    1. Doesn't beer just solve everything?

      And what did you mean by "maybe?"

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  7. I've been addicted to Scrabble for 56 years.. we must have had one of the first games produced. But... looking at the words on your board makes me wish we had your dictionary. Still... I think my mother would have contested that F word ;-)

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    1. My mother wouldn't have KNOWN that word. Hey, that's about as long as I've been playing Scrabble, too. You know how you think everything you grew up with was always around? I was startled to find out that the game only came out for the first time the year before I was born. I figured Henry the Eighth had invented it.

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  8. A 4-hour layover at LAX. Hell, you could have driven up to visit me in that time. I would have given you all the free beer you wanted and maybe even some serum. ;)

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    1. EIGHT hour layover! We totally should've. Dangnation. And I definitely want whatever serum you're using, Jayne.

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  9. My husband and I haven't played Scrabble since the game many years ago when I realized he was in it to win while I was in it for the chance to talk - somewhat opposing goals.

    I agree with pcflamingo - wrinkles are more a matter of genes and luck (and padding) than care or "product". For years I went merrily along on the assumption that I would take after my mother with her smooth, youthful face. Well. It turns out I have more in common with my father than just his sense of humour :)

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    1. It's good to get the whole Wrinkles-Humor package. It's a set!

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  10. I only play Scrabble against my iPad. I can usually win, and its moves are amazingly quick, while it doesn't mind if I get distracted watching the news between plays.

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    1. That there is the beauty of online games. No attitude.

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  11. One (possibly alcoholic) evening, many years ago, some students decided to play swear word scrabble. Not as easy as you might think. We found we needed to also allow proper names and foreign words.
    We laid the foundations for some pretty impressive crows' feet!

    (Note serum suckers - it's already too late to change what was begun in utero.Best solution? Polyfiller)

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    1. It's not that easy. Reminds me of the birthday party game in sixth grade where we had ten minutes to write down all the swear words we knew. I only came up with four. (I won!)

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  12. My mother used Oil of Olay for many years. I offered to get her a five gallon pail of it for Christmas one year. Figured if the skin cream didn't work she could at least put the bucket over her head.
    You need a timer when you two play Scrabble, obviously.

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    1. No, we need to go back to playing Cribbage. That is an airport game.

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  13. It really should be illegal to use young, wrinkle-less models for anti-aging products. Ditto photoshop.

    Serums are also the watery fluids from plants, per the dictionary. The hyperbole of the ads for the products is both entrancing and ludicrous. I have to fight to keep from geting suckered in.

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    1. You must still be young, and haven't given up!

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  14. Everything goes better with beer. Especially if it's free.

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    1. I have nothing to add to that, Jono, me boy.

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  15. I've decided to make friends with my wrinkles. I like to think of them as "texture", thus allowing me to find my own face in the dark.

    Pearl

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    1. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAHAHAHAHA HA!

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  16. "...an attractive 23-year-old model who, indeed, seems to have her wrinkle problem well in hand."
    You forgot to add, "... a personal makeup guy, and a Photoshopper with an airbrush."

    My aunt used to play Scrabble like your partner. Luckily, I have tendencies that way myself.

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    1. Luckily? You two will NEVER finish a game!

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  17. Yikes, 8 hour layover? Forget about reading, you could write a book.

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    1. I wrote three entire blog posts about that one ad in that one layover. Which I think is pretty amazing. I'm not really prolific. Part 2 coming up!

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  18. I used to put beer on my hair as a conditioner. Not anymore though, what a waste.

    Surely fucker is in the dictionary; every other possible combination of letters is there.

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    1. You just got confused when people said you had a good head on your shoulders.

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  19. Us? Wrinkles? Maybe when I get new glasses. But currently it's see no evil.

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    1. Or--not see much of anything at all! Always a good plan.

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  20. Someone may have already suggested this, but I would tell your Scrabble opponent that he has a time limit on plays - say five minutes - or I wouldn't play! Scrabble is my favorite game, but not when the opponent is a perfectionist.

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    1. I'd rather be grouchy. I'm trying to develop An Edge. As it is, no one is afraid of me.

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  21. I play Scrabble without a strategy. I just like to find words that fit together. My husband doesn't like the game because he doesn't feel he is as good with words as me. So we don't play. He loves Cribbage, though....I know some younger folks who are into cribbage. Is it making a comeback? My father would be thrilled!

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    1. It couldn't make a comeback here. We've always played it. In fact, the one time I got a facial abrasion from domestic abuse, it was when Dave held me upside down by the ankles to shake the change out of my pocket when I refused to pay my Cribbage debt. He slipped, a little.

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  22. It doesn't seem that long ago we could leave the airport to meet a friend for lunch and a movie, maybe even take a drive to the beach to swim or watch the surfers, but nowadays when one is subjected to the machinations of the diabolical minions of the TSA, a quick trip beyond the gates could mean being forever blacklisted from air travel. Better the Scrabble game or even a portable Cribbage board.

    I don't often find a blogger new to me who's as funny as you. I'm linking so I'll remember how to find you again.

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    1. That's what people always said. That Murr--she's a little funny. Welcome!

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  23. This post proves that wrinkles, at least in the brains of Scrabble-players, reign supreme.

    You've of course read the matchless Estee obit in the Economist. "The New York gossip columns trailed her obsessively, and still could not find out how old she was. Time, however, also trailed her, with his ghastly wrinkled face and his sallow hue that co-ordinated with no bathrooms. In 1988 she asked her elder son Leonard, then CEO of the company, to start dyeing his hair, as he was making her look old."
    http://www.economist.com/node/2628551

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    1. AHH! Thank you for that. I understand she was 97 when she died, which makes her even older now.

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  24. I LOVE Scrabble! I play online quite often but use the game where you do not have to challenge as it will not let you use a wrong word.
    I do prefer to play quickly, not ponder the board for very long. Like you, I get antsy when people take too long. You have not bashed him in the head with a beer bottle yet?????

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    1. Yeah. I play online too, and one of the things I don't like is that they DO let you use words that don't exist. If somebody somewhere has misspelled it, they have it in their dictionary.

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  25. Were there only a + symbol amidst the Scrabble tiles, imagine the serum-related acronym you could have laid out! Ah, but then Himself would have played off your + with the words two, two, equals, four, and hell if you could have rallied against that kind of blitz.

    PLUS, I chortled sixteen times while reading this, but none so loud as the one elicited by:

    I glance at my tile rack and wonder if the Scrabble dictionary accepts "FUCKER."

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    1. Ah ha! And that is because, Jocelyn, you are a woman of refinement and simple tastes, both.

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  26. I am not sure that the dead Estee Lauder does look nearly as good as the twenty year old she has advertising her product. And my cynical nasty self says that if they don't look good, who will?

    I too love the consideration given to plonking FUCKER down on the board. It seemed appropriate. And would certainly have occurred to me (assuming I had the right letters or sufficient blanks of course).

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    1. I didn't think much of my looks at age twenty. Now I look at the pictures and think: what was I thinking? [retrieves neck from shirt]

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  27. I know a few women who were friends of Estee Lauder and they all say she had the most beautiful skin in the world. Well, I'm sure they hadn't seen "everyone's" skin. Maybe it's her wrinkle cream and maybe it's her genes. Oh well.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

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    1. If she had it at age 97, she had every right to sell pond scum.

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  28. You could be describing what it's like to play Scrabble with our fiercely competitive son. For him Scrabble is an endurance sport, where the aim is to stop anyone else scoring more than the minimum of points!

    As for any-wrinkle serum, I know a lost cause when I see one.....

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    1. See, that's the thing. Why even start?

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  29. This post had me smiling away. I can imagine how frustrating it was hanging around the airport with nothing but a poster staring back at you and an annoying chappie taking scrabble FAR too seriously!!!! I think my nerves would have snapped forcing me to slap him. Lol xxxx

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  30. Quatorze? Holy owned and operated, Batman, the guy is a freaking genius!

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  31. My advice: http://www.scrabblefinder.com/

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    1. Oh, that's a slippery slope. I've already lost so many brain cells.

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  32. I wouldn't play with someone who could come up with "quatorze", in an airport no less. As for the fairy poop, I kind of like my laugh lines. I've earned 'em. Fifteen two Fifteen four and a pair is eight!

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    1. Well it WAS in the international airport.

      Also, looks like you're cheating in cribbage!

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    2. Cottage rules. hehe actually, I just didn't want to type out the whole rigmarole.

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  33. May all the claims made by serum-producing cosmetics companies come back to haunt them!

    Did he really produce 'quatorze'? No one can be that good!

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  34. Had no idea that Estee Lauder was dead. This explains why I don't hear the name as much as I used to :)

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    1. She couldn't get much deader. She was born in 1906, which makes her even deader than my father.

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  35. Well scrabble is a lot of fun. Do you have magnetic type? I sat beside a German couple on a plane last summer they played with a tiny board and the letters had little parts that snapped them to the board so they were firmly in place. They played several games and each managed a win
    Long layer over in the airport. Imagine that time in a plane on the tarmac for 13 hours. It happened here at Pearson Airport on Feb. 8 to passengers on a Sunwing flight! No food, no water! Yet there was a crew change when crew's flight time had passed!

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    1. We've got the snap-in kind of board, but it doesn't work all that well. Sometimes the letters poink out. I recommend Louis C.K.'s bit about air travel, by the way.

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