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Mid-January.

Winter rains coat the stone walkways in town.  Gray above, gray below.  A pre-recorded man’s voice ricochets off the stone buildings, and through my head.  Advertisements.  The pushy scripts are read by a noncommittal man’s voice, just innocuous enough to sound attractive.

50-percent off, get your King Cakes for the Epiphany at This Bakery.  That Shop is offering you a limited-time offer on Whatever.  Buy 2 Things, get one free at Some Other Store.

I feel morose as I find myself slithering through the wet streets, killing time before work.  I’m not above their stupid gimmicks after all.  How can I compete with perfectly-orchestrated color schemes designed to attract my eye?  I’m disappointed in my brain, as it falls for their slight-of-hand tricks that gussy up the same old products and commodities in flashy fake allure?  My brain is no match for those advertising bigwigs that are experts in the art of money extraction.

I feel guilty as my feet take me toward the attractively-colored Makeup Shop.  I choose a lipstick color, and stand in the checkout line, feeling defeated.  A tight-lipped saleswoman calls out to me in a firm, clipped voice:  Other line please, you sheep.

I’m thus herded with the others toward the designated station where I part with several euros of my hard-earned money, all for the sake of vanity.  I steal a moment after lunch to smear on my new lipstick.  Am I beautiful yet?  Is the sellout, commercialized and commodified Lari satisfied?

I look at myself in the mirror, and my heart softens a bit.  It actually looks nice.  I’ve allowed myself this one indulgence, and I can’t say I regret it.  The Me in the mirror gives a loving, yet reproachful smirk:  You’ve had your moment of excess.  Now wear that lipstick, and continue on your way.

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