I was mugged today. And buffed. And polished. All against my will.
It had been a very stressful morning. After it was all over, my friend CN and I visited a mall to decompress. Men drink. Women, being multi-taskers, shop first and drink later.
I'm out of practice at mall shopping. Hadn't been inside one since last Christmas. When a hunter doesn't keep in shape, she loses her edge. That's the only excuse I have for what happened next.
CN and I were walking through the center of the mall when a woman at a kiosk smiled at me. Without thinking, I smiled back. Huge mistake. Never make eye contact with a predator.
Before I realized what had happened, the woman grabbed my right hand and began examining my nails. Checking out her prey.
I tugged, trying to free my fingers, but she was already buffing my thumbnail.
Damn! Trapped. I would have to chew through the thumb to escape.
I looked for CN, but she was still walking. I called, "CN!" and then realized she had sacrificed me to save herself. After fifteen years of friendship, she'd thrown me under the bus without a second glance.
The Israeli woman released my thumb, and I dutifully admired what the dead sea salts had done to make my thumbnail shiny and smooth. She complimented my natural nails, saying my clean white tips looked like French nails, and I was lucky. I winced, hearing the ca-ching of pennies getting ready to depart my purse.
It was time for defensive action. "Okay," I said, trying to staunch the sales patter. "How much?"
"That's not the important question right now," she responded, refusing to take the bait. "Tell me. Do you cut your cuticles?"
"No," I said, already plotting my next move. Skills I hadn't used in more than six months were coming back. "How much?" I repeated with firmness.
She sighed in resignation, disappointed to find she'd snagged a miserly philistine instead of an extravagant Yuppie.
I suddenly realized why she had cut me out from the herd. I was dressed in business attire with makeup and my good jewelry. Apparently, my usual oh-so-casual-approach to attire innoculates me from becoming a target for predators.
She pointed to a little blue bag filled with a buffing brush and body lotion.
"Forty-nine ninety nine," she replied.
Annoyed at being taken for an amateur, I began to flex my rusty muscles. "Give me a break," I snarled.
She shrugged, accepting that she had overplayed her hand. "I do have a newcomer's special I can give you for $39.99."
"Thanks for the shiny thumb." I began to walk away.
"Wait," she called. "I can give you just the buffing brush for $19.99."
But now, the relative safety of the food court and play area beckoned. I could sense freedom just steps away. "I'll catch you on our way back through the mall," I promised, crossing my fingers.
"Let me do all your nails," she whined, her chirpiness giving way to desperation. I didn't bother to answer.
Whew! Freedom. Time to deal with the traitor.
CN was lurking behind a nearby pillar. "I didn't think you'd make it out alive," she said.
"No thanks to you," I growled. "If that had happened to you, I would have stayed to distract her until you could get away."
She shook her head. "Sorry. My contract only requires five hours of loyal friendship per day. I reached my quota for today about an hour ago." She grinned. "Besides, you would have had to set your hair on fire to distract that one."
I couldn't argue with her take on the situation. And, she had already proved herself a loyal and steadfast supporter on a day when I really needed help.
A woman at another kiosk smiled at me. My eyes automatically unfocused. I ducked my head and pulled in my limbs, making as small a target as possible.
It's like riding a bike. You never truly forget how to survive life on the veldt.
Thank you, CN, for your help today. I love you.