28 November 2009

In Honor Of Black Friday: Retail Stories

Long long ago, in a galaxy far far away, I took a Christmas job at a Big New York Department Store, as a “Perfume Model”. Every morning, the models would line up on the selling floor before opening, and a portly man who took both his job and his homosexuality VERY seriously, would give us our perfume for the day and the "magic words" (`which phrase still makes me feel sligtly ill)Our job was had to repeat these words -and never ever say ANYTHING else-to the customers, while attempting to spray them. Really and truly.

One fine morning,I was assigned a new fragrance by a film star to spray on unsuspecting passersby .The magic words I had to repeat ad nauseum were, "Hi! Have you heard about "Elizabeth Taylor's Passion For Women'?
One man stopped, gazed at me in surprise, and said "Oh, really? I thought she was straight!"
The next day, I had "Calvin Klein's Obsession." Can I tell you, it is extremely hard going through an entire day in which you are not allowed to say anything but "It lies somewhere between love and madness?" It provided some interesting challenges.
A flustered, overrouged older woman came running up and demanded "Where can I find men's dress shirts?"
I pointed to my left. "Um,that way...I mean, somewhere between love and madness".
She stared at me. "What are you, some kind of lunatic?"
I stoically repeated: "It lies between love and madness, madam." Then I whispered--"Just past the socks."

"Dominique? You spoke unauthorized words.You're out of here," said Portly Gay Boss Guy. (We all had glamourous perfume model fake names. I wanted to be called " Artemisia", but my boss said it sounded "too foreign". (This was the early 90's. You could still say stuff like that.)

I wasn't too sad to leave that job,although there was one perk I missed: because I reeked of perfume, I always got a seat to myself on the subway, on the way home.

Side note: Calvin Klein did so well with a perfume named after a psychological disorder, he might,in the future, want to branch out: "
Calvin Klein's Borderline Personality Disorder",
"Calvin Klein's Sociopathy",
"Calvin Klein's Severe Clinical Depression."
-There would be obvious problems with actually managing to SELL a perfume named "CK Kleptomania", and "CK Dementia" would only do well if anyone could ever remember the name.

If he really wanted to make a fortune, he'd market a scent called "Indifference." It is the one true aphrodisiac. There's nothing like just not being interested, to pique the interest of others.
So here's how you capture the object of your desire: break up with him right after being introduced. Here, try this as a template:

"Hi Peri, I'm Egbert."
"Hi, Egbert.Nice to meet you. But I'm sorry, I've met someone else."
"Oh, no! When?
"Ten seconds ago. He was on the bar mitzvah receiving line just ahead of you."
"Oh, Peri, no. I thought we had something special. Your handshake was so..firm. I thought what we had was real."
"Egbert, I am moving on."
"But WHY?"
"Because the buffet line is moving on too. I need some chopped liver. But I'll always remember you, and I'm so grateful for our time together."
"I am too. Maybe I'll see you...later."
"Egbert, I don't think that would be a good idea. Besides, the ice swan is melting. I have to go."

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Monogram Memories

This time,last year,your humble correspondent was working at the Louis Vuitton Flagship Store. Here are some notes from that time: my Last Days Of Retail.
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If you are a store, and you're French (which I'm going to assume you, dear reader, are not), here is how you assert your Frenchness during the Christmas retail season:

1) Leave your front doors open when it's 22 degrees out, ensuring that people shopping for $1600 handbags can see their own breath as they utter the words "I'll t-t-t-take it".
Expecting to be warm indoors during a luxury shopping experience is simply not chic. One must suffer for beauty. Also? We don't like you. Or care. And your hair is funny.

2) Refuse to play Christmas music. Instead, play depressing emo girls wailing about how their lovers have left them and it's probably their own fault, but if said lover doesn't return to make thm miserable again, they will probably either take pills or continue wailing. Or both. "Rudolph the RedNose Reindeer" is a bourgouis construct, and has been denounced by LeviStrauss in his famous tract "The Deconstruction of Rudolf de la Nez Rouge"., in which reindeer are proven to be a failed neo-Marxist syllogism.Parce-que: Christmas music at Christmas is so...predictable.

3) Refuse to have sales. Sneer openly at those customers who ask. Sneer openly at customers who don't ask, for their lack of courage. Sneer openly at anyone who happens to be walking by and within sneering distance. Nous sneerairons.

4) We spit on the concept of Christmas decorations. Instead, we have a conceptual artist who walks around the store before it's opn and murmurs the single word "holly". So spare. So simple. So chic.

5) Your hair is funny and your shoes are a laughable relic of the former life you have now outgrown. Your children are sad and your wife has a lover. Do not ask me what is the price of this purse. You can not purchase back the strayed affection of your spouse, who is sleeping with a german art student who moonlights as a garbage man in order to impress his marxist, much younger other girlfriend, with a $420 beach towel. Do not try, either to do the first thing I suggested or to understand the structure of this sentence. Pah- I spit on conventional sentence structure.

There ya go. If you ever want to be a huge, French, luxury retail store at Christmas, you now know everything you ned to be a huge success with people who would not want to belong to any club that would have them as a member. I.e., all of humanity.
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