Monday, January 31, 2011


I won't tell you if it's a he or a she. Not for kicks. It's just that I don't remember. Let's just call this person Aholic (wipe that smirk off your face and go 'heh-he' or 'tee-hee' in your head). Aholic has been to the store, my store, too many times for me to remember a first or to keep count. What I do remember is the look on the face. It's the same every time. There's a hint of hesitance and unfamiliarity  that's quickly overcome by a look of bravado tinged with cockiness. A playful voyeur stepped out of that dry skin and into the store.

My clients almost never ever come back. Best thing about this business. And even if they do, I'd never know if it was them. But this one stood out. Helped by the fact that I do remember what she had bought the last time and several times before that. I am in the business of masks, so I do tend to get biased. Every one of the products purchased by him were totally unlike him. Here, in my store, people come to transform. Some desperately want to hide from their pasts. Some have known to be nothing in their past. Another face would give them the freedom to be anything they want to be. It's like moving to a new city where you know no one. You open a new book - fresh, crispy, empty pages. What you do from there on defines who you are. So much so that you become that person and you forget you wear a mask.

Aholic never went away. I thought I knew what it was that didn't work. My products had no flaws. They work because people like you who step in to buy one, desperately want to hide their flaws. They always pick what suits them best. It's the most obvious thing to do. You get it right. Simple. I never have window-shoppers who drop in on a whim. But my clients have their fancies. I think that was Aholic's problem. But I'm not sure. Why wouldn't you want to be someone you could be when given the chance? Why try something just for the sake of trying it out.

One thing was consistent. Aholic stepped into the store like it was the first time. Every time. Browsing through the galleries, Aholic's eyes lit up with child-like wonder. At the possibilities that lay waiting in the shelves. There'd be the bunch of masks towards the end to pick from. Then the confusion and struggle to make a choice. Which one looked good? What would happen with this one? Uncertainity always existed for all my customers, but they'd be thinking practical thoughts. Making the math work. This one just had problems picking a lollipop from a bunch of multi-coloured lollipops. And when that finally happened there was always the apprehension. Hesitance. A backward step towards the pile left behind, or a glance at the ones close to the cash counter.

I think nothing ever happened when Aholic went away with a new mask. Worst client ever - especially for my ego.

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