Color, Texture, and Protection
by KJ Hannah Greenberg



Henri exhaled noisily. His assignment was insurmountable. It was wonderful that Williams, Turner and Bo had landed the Beauty Be You account. Yet, it was less than marvelous that, as a Senior Producer, he had to stimulate sales of an anachronistic creation, a lipstick, via television and the Internet spots. Long gone were the days when energetic dames were considered attractive. It would have been easier to hawk pulp fiction to Literature Professors or to vend trout to weekend fishermen than to sell Red27. No one wanted to look like women-girls.


On balance, that’s why Williams, Turner and Bo had been hired; Beauty Be You had survived by playing to niche markets, including consumers who sought to appear as nimble females. The corporation’s reach knew no limits.


Hitherto, bright plumage, once evidenced by vigorous people’s clothing and cosmetics, was shunned. “Fashion,” per se, was passé. Few designer houses or make-up enterprises endured. What’s more, most marketed shoes were orthopedic. Most middle-class dwellings yielded staircases to private elevators.


In fact, Henri had been instrumental in helping a developer, Tomorrow’s 42nd Street, showcase walk-in bathtubs, wide doorways, and single lever kitchen faucets in that business’s new, expensive building. Yet, Henri had failed to charm that firm’s owner into advertising personal alarm systems, too—that man’s prize seventy-five year-old wife had insisted that they take a trip to the moon instead of bankrolling a necessity.


In contrast, Henri’s own wife was no trophy. Actually, there had been titters and rude coughing as she had walked down the aisle at their wedding. Penelope was Henri’s junior. What’s more, as she had entered their union entirely intact, she had been able to produce four children. It was only Henri’s professional status that kept him from being the office’s laughingstock.


Notwithstanding the significant decline in world population, middle aged and older femmes were “hot,” while their daughters and granddaughters were not. A decade or so earlier, a University of Minnesota scientist had proved, through possibly spurious research, that men lived longer when consorted by gals past menopause. Accordingly, youth was scorned, in general, and fledgling partners were spurned, more specifically. Plus, global altruism died.


Few men cared that hitching themselves to senior missuses increased their individual longevity at the cost of not perpetuating humanity. The “new sexy” had become living past ninety while exploiting a centenarian as arm candy. It was often the case that the richer the man, the older the bride.


Henri picked up the product samples shipped by Beauty Be You and shrugged. The popularity of mating elders had caused many consumers to forego traditional enhancements. Women coveted wrinkles, not anti-aging creams. They demanded grey hair, not juvenile pigments.  Besides, famous people were often quoted as saying things like “artificial color, texture, and protection is unenlightened; true beauty is a ripened face.”


Henri shrugged. Attraction really had no limits.


He then rubbed his chin; his sentiment could become the basis for the Beauty Be You ads. Williams, Turner and Bo could showcase couples consisting of golden agers and their mates, and then fade to pairs in which the ladies were unmistakably fecund. Whereas social norms were strong, it was neither illegal nor immoral to desire a babe or to sire children on her—such acts, merely, were “unusual.”


All things considered, Henri still jumped when Sima Turner, the company’s vice president of marketing, knocked on his door. That hoary executive was rarely seen outside of her suite as she was the ship’s-wheel. Anyway, her looks were so extraordinary that any man speaking to her risked losing his professional focus.


So, Henri memorized all of the particulars of his wife, Penelope, which were captured in the photograph on his desk, before he bade the silvery decision-maker to enter his space. He was determined not be misled by Ms. Turner’s wiles.


“Mr. Randolf, I can’t see how we will be able to promote the beauty of mademoiselles. This campaign is tosh.”


Henri gestured to the storyboards on his computer’s screen.


Less than five minutes later, the vice president left his workplace. She was smiling and humming.


Fortune smiled on Williams, Turner and Bo weeks before their campaign launched. More exactly, paparazzi had caught France’s president leaving a countryside hotel with a broad half of his age. He declared to the press that his lover was not a daughter substitute, but a smart doll, whose eroticism spewed from her forthrightness and her love for skydiving.


Additionally, the well-liked actor, James C. Nussim, had tossed down the gauntlet by very overtly marching his newest wife, the red-headed Alana Quinn, a youngster in her twenties, around the halls of the annual Depends Charity Gala. His act had occupied headlines for two days.


As well, there had been that retired footballer who had sat, with his doxy, a toy allegedly in her thirties, in the front row at the Liquid Foods Awards. Calling the athlete’s flaunting of a December/May relationship merely “scandalous” was akin to calling an oak tree dying of wilt just “pretty.”


Consequently, Williams, Turner and Bo’s campaign was noticed in tabloids and on billboards. Their operation was spectacularly reinforced on social media, too. As discovered by investigative journalists, courageous ancients bought the lipstick. Furthermore, schoolgirls and their sisters, likewise, purchased it.


In truth, Sima Turner, too, was wearing that shade when she summoned Henri into her set of rooms. Had he been faster or a fighter, Henri would not have been wearing it when he exited.


The following day, Henri turned in his key. He had quit. After rebuffing Sima’s offer of a horizontal promotion, he had decided to move his family to Vermont to try homesteading.


a line


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