Friday, December 2, 2011

Chapter 6

“I don’t know about you but I’m bushed,” Betty sighed as they left the shoe store.

“Oh me too,” groaned Jessie.  “I feel absolutely drained.”

Betty’s laughed.  “I’m sure your bank account feels the same way.  What’d you say we go for a cup of coffee? I’ll buy.”

Dividing the packages between them they made their way to the Villa Capri, where they sometimes had breakfast before a shopping expedition or lunch after a shopping spree. Sometimes they just went for a quick cup of coffee and were usually enticed by the desert menu.

But the way to the restaurant was obstructed with all sorts of temptations.  Clothing boutiques, a jewelery store, a card and stationery store, a store of fine porcelain and crystal, and Jessie couldn’t resist looking at everything.  There was no way Jessie could afford the clothes in the boutiques, the jewelery or the porcelain and crystal, but she still liked to stop and look.  It drove Betty crazy.

“Jessie, it’s coffee time,” Betty groaned, “I thought you said you were bushed.”

“No, you said you were bushed,” Jessie turned away from admiring a diamond ring.  “I said I was drained.”

“Well, then show a little compassion and let’s go to the restaurant so we can sit down and have some coffee,” Betty pleaded.

“Alright, alright,” Jessie nodded. 

But her good intentions only lasted until the next boutique, where she just had to admire a jacket.  She didn’t go inside, Jessie limited herself to just window shopping, but it still made Betty impatient.

“Jessie, coffee!” she demanded again.  “I want … correction, I need a cup of coffee and I need it now!”

“Okay,” Jessie agreed, and without any more interruptions they made their way to restaurant.

At Villa Capri a waitress handed them two menus, but Jessie waved them away.  “Two coffee’s please,” she ordered, “and two pieces of cheesecake.  And oh,” she added, “could you hurry please, my friend is having withdrawal symptoms”

The waitress, who recognized Jessie and Betty as regular customers, nodded her understanding with a smile.  People could easily go for hours without bread, fruit or sugar, but let nobody take away their caffeine.

Awaiting their order, Jessie and Betty surveyed the restaurant.  It was shortly after one o’clock and the place was packed.  The mall had three restaurants, but this was by far the most popular.  Jessie guessed it had something to do with the Mediterranean atmosphere.  The dusty blue painted brick walls decorated with bright colored clay plates complimented with elaborate flower arrangements that spilled from huge planters, and the rustic tables and chairs.  The fast, friendly service and excellent food probably had something to do with the popularity too.  Soft music and a buzz of friendly conversation and laughter filled the air.

When the waitress returned with their order, Jessie and Betty wasted no time.  They simultaneously added two packets of sugar to their coffee along with one tub of cream and then took that all important first sip.

“Aaah,” Betty sighed with satisfaction, “there’s just nothing like a good cup of coffee.”

Jessie nodded her agreement.  “The cheesecake isn’t bad either.”

For a few seconds they sat in silence, enjoying their coffee and cake. 

“So are you finished shopping?” Betty asked.

When Jessie shook her head, Betty rolled her eyes.  “Where are you going to drag me now?”

“The drugstore,” Jessie said.  “I would like to look at some make-up.”

“But you never wear make-up,” Betty protested.  “Not even when we go to a club.”

“I know.  But this is the reinvented me,” Jessie pointed out, “and now that I have cute outfits, I’d like to fix my face.”

“But you look nice,” said Betty.  “You don’t need all that stuff.”

“Betty,” Jessie said slightly sharper than she had intended.  “I’m twenty-two years old, and my make-up consists of a pink lipstick and brown mascara.  I think I’m ready for a bit more.”

Betty nodded.  She didn’t agree with her friend, but she could understand her.  “Alright then,” she said, “If you want to do this, you should do it the proper way.”

“And the proper way is?”

“Certainly not a drugstore,” Betty said.  “Go to a beauty salon, let one of the consultants take a look at you, and advise you on the right products and colors.  Or even better … ask for a makeover.”

“A makeover.” 

Jessie liked that idea.  She’d seen people in magazines who had the before and after treatment, and they always came out looking beautiful.  She would be able to see what colors worked for her and how to apply them.  “Let’s go,” she said, already sliding out the booth.

Betty made a grab for her arm.  “Don’t you think we should ask for the bill and pay first?”

“Of course, of course,” Jessie reached for her wallet and put twenty dollars on the table.

“Twenty dollars for two cups of coffee and two pieces of cake?” Betty questioned.

“Not enough?”

“Far too much if you ask me.”

“Oh what the hell, I’m in a generous mood,” Jessie dismissed the issue.

She was so excited about the makeover, but when she arrived at the salon she suddenly got a severe case of cold feet.  She took one look at the brightly lit room, with its mirrors and bottles, and perfectly groomed ladies in white coats, and knew she didn’t belong there.

“Go on then,” Betty gave her a gentle push.  “Go in and make an appointment.”

But Jessie stood rooted to the spot.  “I can’t,” she whispered.

Betty didn’t understand.  First her friend had been all excited about the beauty salon and now that they were here she wouldn’t go through the door?  “What’s the matter?”

“I can’t do this,” Jessie said.

“Why not?”

“Because … because…”

“Because what?”

“Because … they’re going to take one look at me and laugh behind my back.  Let’s just go.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Betty admonished.  “Why would they laugh at you?”

“Because I’m ugly.”

“No you’re not.”

“I am,” Jessie persisted. 

“No you’re not.”

“Okay, maybe not downright ugly, but I’m certainly not pretty.  Look at me, my hair is out of control and my clothes are shabby and my shoes…”

“Okay, okay, I get the picture,” Betty nodded.  “So you’re not exactly looking your best today, but your clothes and shoes don’t matter, they’re gonna take care of your face and hair.  And you are beautiful.  When you came out of that change room wearing the new outfits you were a knock-out.”


“Would I lie to you?  Now come on, go make the appointment.”

Jessie looked at her friend in desperation.  She dearly wished she had Betty’s classic good looks.  Betty had a perfect heart shaped face, big blue eyes, a dainty nose and rosebud mouth.  She looked every bit like a Scandinavian beauty queen.  Not to mention her straight, smooth silver blond hair that fell like a silken sheet to the small of her back.

“Move it,” Betty urged.

“Alright, alright,” Jessie sighed.  “But you have to come with me.”

Like a lamb being led to the slaughter, Jessie approached the beauty salon.

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