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     Volume 4 Issue 33 | February 11, 2005 |

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Slice of Life

Forever Fair

Richa Jha

This is the stuff dreams, advertisements, and dreams in advertisements are made of. You are sitting at a café sipping latte and the next thing you know is, you are being approached by one of the most renowned mavericks of the ad world who asks you to model for him in a forthcoming television commercial!

"You know me, don't you?" I haven't been asked a more brazenly narcissistic question in my life!

"I think I know your hair," I said without hesitation, without a trace of lie, and without glancing at his lice-infested (I'd bet my entire free life on this one) grotty, ragamuffin, sloppily entangled locks.

"You see? That's what I'll do with you. People around the subcontinent will know you for one of your assets…". Oops! "Be discreet please, old man. What if the others hear this?" I prayed silently. Music as it was to my ears, I hoped he wouldn't offer me products like the unmentionables…! But who knows, these creative blokes rarely mean what they say.

I think the Devil read my mind and quickly assured me that they were shooting for a cream commercial, and thought I fitted the bill. He said he would disclose the name of the brand to me later. The offer was made, and the deal sealed and signed amid empty coffee mugs and messy scatterings of half gobbled brownies (that he devoured. I was too dazed to think beyond seeing myself on TV, anyways). We shook hands and he tottered out chanting "Oh! What a find. What a find." At least he could have offered to pay. No wonder they make pot loads of money.

Cut through the next few days of unmitigated, undying euphoria until the red-lettered day dawned, and I saw myself faced with the flash of a million watts of white lights. While what I was asked to do was pretty basic, and was wrapped up in a couple neat shots, I was sure it had been possible only because I had successfully got under the skin of the character. At times you may have been a pro all your life without having known it. I went home armed with the balmiest of self-esteems a human can aspire to.

The day came when I took The Hubby to the pre-launch screening of the commercial at the agency office and made sure I occupied the best seats available. Which isn't saying much because the near-dark room was swarming with several other men and women, who looked like aspiring models to me (you can tell from the fleeting uncertainties in their eyes), perhaps waiting for a chance of their life time to be cast in a commercial by this ad genius. I told them all how Lady Luck had sauntered in smiling up to my coffee table. The Hubby dug his head into his chest lamenting he was ashamed to be seen with me, and suggested I shut up. I thought he was being unnecessarily harsh upon himself. This way or the other, he would have to get used to my new status.

They screened five commercials for different products. I could sense murmurs among the crouching figures in the dark each time a new face lit up the screen. Faces, jingles, brands went as quickly as they came, and I was still waiting for myself to stare back at the audience from up there. The one ad which had a familiar backdrop had the model sitting next to The Hubby gasping for some essentials the moment she spotted herself perched up on the wall.

"Hey, wait a minute," every single atom in my incensed body wanted to scream out loud, "wasn't that girl in the peach dress supposed to have been me? This is fraud!" Was I insane ranting out aloud to a deaf room, because no one seemed to have noticed anyway.

The Hubby was busy congratulating the belles around him when I clutched his hands and dragged him out of there.

"Hey Wifey? You changed your mind at the last minute and built up such a suspense around it? You're great!" My moist eyes and numb senses couldn't discern a hint of betrayal or mockery there, but then, I may have been wrong.

I was stopped at the exit by that dandy dab hand I could have throttled if I could see anything at all. "Leaving so early? Why don't you join us for cocktails?", and then turning to The Hubby he said in the most charming manner, "don't you agree your wife has immense talent? What a performance! I'm taking her again the next time we need the close up shot of the fore-arm…just the complexion we were looking for! Well done. And now if you'll excuse me, …"

My fore-arm! So that is what it was? They had shot just my fore-arm? And that b***h (excuse me for this gross remissness to all norms of decency, but I was seething then, as I am now) had lent her dolled up expression-less face where rightfully I should have been seen?

And that is when it dawned upon me. The culprit was not this flamboyant ad guru, but rather lay back home somewhere in a damp corner of my bathroom. The Fairness Cream, but of course!

The pretty straight forward story goes like this. Few weeks ago, a friend visited us with a complementary box of assorted toiletries. While most of the items would find a use in my house, I didn't know what to do with the fairness cream. Not because the mirror has only superlatives to sing in my honour, but because I am, in principle, against the very nature of the product. While the argument of the opposite camp is not lost upon me, you can't blame me for having my own reservations.

However, in one of those bouts of extreme stinginess, I refused to replenish my pack of body lotion, and started using up this blessed fairness cream instead on my arms (just on my arms, mind you). The rest, as you just read, is a case of mistaken sense of quasi-megalomania with a disastrous twist in the tale.

Moral of the story: Apply a cream only where it is meant to be used.



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