Sometimes I digress. Today's post is one of those times.
Pampered Now. Can We Please Stop?
For the past few years, I've been caught up in a bizarre phenomenon that seems to coincide with becoming an independent female adult--invites to what I like to call "product parties." A product party is one in which you are invited to sit with a group of friends and listen to a sales pitch on cosmetics, or kitchen ware, or candles or home decor, oooh and aaaah over the fine quality and "reasonable" price, and then purchase something in order to fulfill your friendship obligation to the hostess of the event.
It started innocently enough a year out of school, when someone at work brought in a catalog for Party Lights. They had a Party Lights party at work, and it was all very exciting to a naive young girl like myself, who was totally caught up in the smelly candle trend of home decorating (classier than incense with its pseudo-wiccan college hippy association, but aromatic and mysterious and exactly the way you imagine that the homes of successful single women would smell). So I bought a candle. Then all hell broke loose. See, part of the "product party" spiel is to entice attendees to have product parties of their own, and apparently the Party Lights Proselytizers had descended upon Raleigh like a plague of nice-smelling, flammable sirens, calling the entire female population of the city to its death on the rocks of votive candle holders and "scent sampler" candle packs. I cannot even tell you how many parties I was invited to, nor can I relate the pressure to "help out a friend" by attending, or just ordering something. To this day, my hall coat closet smells like an air freshener warehouse.
Finally, the candle craze abated. However, it was replaced by a string of (mercifully brief) successors: Avon, Tupperware, Mary Kay, some weird home decorating firm that specializes in giant swags featuring fake magnolias, about a million random jewelry companies, that damn scrapbooking thing with the acid-free paper and the photo albums that cost a billion dollars each--the list goes on, culminating with my current arch-nemesis, The Pampered Chef.
I don't have anything against the company per se; in fact, the stuff that I've gotten works pretty well. But I'm getting invitations to these parties on roughly a weekly basis now, plus co-workers are involved in selling it, and so everywhere I turn I am being threatened with Pampering. Here's the thing: I cook, so I already have all the cookware I need. So I end up getting "accessories"--garlic presses, meat thermometers, measuring spoons, etc. Not so bad, but the hoops I have to jump through to obtain some teaspoons are ridiculous.
A Pampered Chef party lasts about two hours, involves "cooking" some recipe made out of combined pre-cooked or frozen food which is always too salty, and compels the hostess to pull out and "demonstrate" EVERY LAST ITEM OF PAMPERED CHEF CRAP SHE HAS. And believe me, there's a LOT of Pampered Chef crap out there to demonstrate. How hard is it for a layperson to figure out how a measuring cup works?
So I sit there, enduring the Smell of the Salty Food Involving Prefab Pillsbury Biscuits, contemplating putting my eyes out with my order form, trying to ignore the prattling of the Converted as they discuss the fabulousness of stain resistant spatulas. Please, I just want a cake tester and a paring knife. I knew that coming in. Can't I just order now? But nooooooo! We continue with a raffle for a door prize, we pass around the cook book (filled with more prefab salty recipes), we compare Pampered Chef stories, and what do you mean, it has to COOK for THIRTY-FIVE MINUTES?! Can't I order and leave? It's just a cake tester! In the name of all that's holy, just STOP TALKING AND LET ME WRITE YOU A CHECK! No, I don't want a free sample of the taco ring. I want you to sit down, shut up, pull out the damn calculator and take my order! No, I will not host a party. I have no friends! I hate humanity, and I especially hate you right now because you're STILL TALKING, and it's been 2 1/2 hours and I have to actually work for a living eight hours a day and this is a huge chunk of my time and Cake Freaking Tester, Dammit!
Sigh. I finally get to go home, where I consume a gallon of water to counteract the bloating caused by the taco ring, rush around like an idiot to get things ready for the next day at work, put on my pjs, pour a glass of wine and sit down to go through the day's mail. There, poking out from between catalogs--a small, glossy index card. Yep, another invitation to a Pampered Chef party. I can't even cry, because the salt content of the taco ring has depleted all the moisture in my body. Perhaps a move is in order. I hear Australia's a nice place to live.