Some girls remember their first foray into womanhood as the "first blood," or menarche, when they were 13 years old. Others consider it the moment their cherry popped in the back of a Buick at 17. Mine was at the tender age of 33 at the Skydome Hotel.
It all comes back to me when I see that the Burt's Bees seminar's back in town tomorrow (Friday, September 24) and Saturday.
A couple of years ago, I attended a Burt's marketing party with my friend Kathleen. I should start by saying that I'm not really all that girly. But on this particular occasion, there was the promise of free food and samples. We struggled in traffic on a cold night and parked the car for a mere $8 for a half-hour, tax not included. Then began our hike to the Skydome Hotel. We weren't totally sure where we were going, so I asked the gentleman next to us if he was going to the Burt's Bees seminar.
Me: "It's about skin cream."
Man: "I'm going to an Argos game."
Kathleen: "Is Argos football?"
Man: "Uh, it's a Canadian football team."
Me: "Is that the one that John Candy owned?"
We found our way through the lobby to the elevator and to the Northern Lights Room. The seminar had already started, so we found empty seats in the back of the nearly full room. Kathleen removed her many gloves and capes and pulled out a pencil and paper to take notes attentively.
I, for my part, began to scope out the free stuff. We were each given a bag full of products, and there were cookies, fruit, cheese and beverages. I felt better about paying for parking. I figured we'd nosh a bit and then slip out with our loot bags. Kathleen had other plans.
The woman at the front of the room was striding confidently back and forth. She was 7 feet tall, blond, tanned, muscled, full of energy, and her name was Sunny Justice. She was in her 70s. She talked about the skin as the largest organ and told us we shouldn't be putting anything on it that we wouldn't put in our mouths. Then she proceeded to pass out products for us to put on our eyes, hands and, yes, to taste.
She talked about how Burt's Bees is organic and a supporter of land conservation projects to save the north woods that once stretched unbroken from Maine to Minnesota.
I started lapping up the eye gel. Being preoccupied with all things gratuit, I had not noticed the look on my dear friend's face. Kathleen is one of those women who love all skin care products. Her bathroom is a skin aficionado's showroom. She's a proud user of all things that come in tiny bottles. The seminar was drawing to a close, and Sunny began to yell things out to the audience.
Sunny: "OK, so how do we start?"
"Cleanser!" Kathleen yelled out. I looked at her, shocked. But Sunny kept going, "Cleanser! Right, OK, and then?"
The strange voice in my ear called back, "Exfoliate!"
"What's with you. Kathleen?" But something was terribly wrong. I turned to see Sunny getting ready again.
"Right on! That's it. Exfoliate! OK, yeah, and then? C'mon, what's next!?!"
In a panic, I reached my hand to grab Kathleen, but my fingers slid off her Lemon Butter Cuticle Creamed hand as she shot to her feet for a full-throttle scream.
I should've gone to see those Argos.
Sunny looked over to us and shouted back, "TONER. Never forget the toner." Kathleen slumped in her chair, head in her milk-and-coconut-smelling hands.
"How could I have forgotten toner? What the fuck was I thinking?!"
"Uh, you know, shit happens. We all make mistakes."
"Not like that. Moisturize before toner? I don't want to talk about it."
And that was that. As people chatted excitedly and clutched their loot bags, I made my way to the front of the room with Kathleen in tow. When I finally got my chance to speak to Sunny, I'd totally forgotten what I wanted to ask. She was even more stunning and full of life up close.
"Uh . Is are Burt's Bees is this stuff vegan?" I said way too proudly.
Sunny blinked. It was the first time all night.
"No. Are you vegan?"
"Oh no, I'm not, but " I looked back at Kathleen, who had gone into a coughing fit. "But as long as the bees are treated with, uh, respect ."
"Burt's Bees is a cruelty-free organization."
Kathleen had somehow turned and was walking out of the room. Without even saying goodbye to my new Minister of Personal Skin Care, I ran, visions of exfoliated sugar plum fairies and respected bees dancing in my head. I am woman, hear me . buzz?