“Is there anything I can help you with?” a drug store employee asked.
“I’m fine, thanks,” Pizza Pie replied. How long had she been standing in front of the skincare products? Long enough for the sales associate to get hungry and peel the pepperonis off of her face?
Pizza Pie looked down at her phone and touched the cheesy skin on her cheeks, trying to determine her skin type. She assumed it was run-of-the-mill oily, but what if it was actually dry skin that overproduced sebum because the pores were dehydrated? That was a stretch, she figured. But then, if her skin was oily, was it still fine to use jojoba oil as a makeup remover? Some website said jojoba oil was chemically more of a wax than an oil, whatever that means, so it would clear out other built-up oils. Another website she saw said Aegean oil was better for skin, but jojoba oil was what she had at home and surely it was better than nothing.
“Still doing okay, miss?”
Pizza Pie nodded and forced a toothless, polite smile. Did it look like she was stealing products? Was standing in the skincare aisle this long drawing attention to her skin? Was she the only one who wished for veils to be culturally normative? Was that insensitive to think? She would wear a ski mask, but it would surely make her look suspicious and would probably irritate her skin even more.
In all honesty, she didn’t trust any of these products in front of her or believe any of them would do anything to her skin. She was, however, a firm believer in the power of placebo. What did pizza-skinned people do in like prehistoric times? Were ancestral pizza-skins just unconcerned with what they looked like? They probably didn’t even have mirrors, she realized. But surely they knew. Surely they could feel that their waxy cheese skin was different?
A funny joke, she thought, would be to say how it sucks she’s ugly and had a shitty personality. Evidently a shitty sense of humor, too. That she was ugly and a dumb bitch? That a dumb bitch is useless if she’s ugly? Even her own irony was lost on her. She could make a joke about trying to get validation for the more redeeming parts of herself by making jokes like that. An ugly, dumb bitch who can’t even make a joke good enough to laugh off her insecurities, now that’s funny, she thought. And so unoriginal.
The employee was walking down the skincare aisle again. Whatever, just get something. She remembered reading something about a moisturizer and a cleanser being key components of a skincare routine. There was a cleanser in a clear turquoise bottle on the top shelf. It was everything she wasn’t but wished she was—clean, clear, contained, French. What a waste of time to wish to be something else. What a waste of time she was. Pizza Pie grabbed the moisturizer to go with the cleanser. It had an SPF of 30. Sun protection was probably a good thing. She melted so easily.
The bus stop was right outside the drug store. After she purchased her items, she made her way toward the bench where a man was already sitting. She sat down on the other side and appraised him through the corner of her eye. He was all neck, big and beefy, wearing a tracksuit and holding a paper bag. One thick, veiny chunk of a neck, absolutely plastered with hickeys which ranged in color from a floral pink to deep violet-brown.
The Neck cracked as he made a show of twisting around toward Pizza Pie, who was going out of her way to not make eye contact. “Mmmmm mmmm mmmm, I’d sure like to eat you up, mama.”
Pizza Pie gathered her things and briskly walked away. “Hey, Pepperoni! Why don’t you come back here and choke me out, baby?” The Neck yelled after her.
She could walk home from here, she calculated. She took her purchases out of the bag and held them in her arms, then pulled the bag over her head and blindly walked on. The plastic stuck to her skin where it was most greasy.