Home > Anybody Out There? (Walsh Family #4)(5)

Anybody Out There? (Walsh Family #4)(5)
Marian Keyes

“Some of them haven’t even been opened,” she said. “How come Helen and Mum haven’t stolen them?”

“Because they already have them. Just before…you know…everything, I’d sent a consignment of the new summer products. They already have most of these.”

Two days after my arrival Helen and Mum had sat on my bed and systematically gone through my cosmetics, discarding almost everything. “Porn Star? Have it. Multiple Orgasm? Have it. Dirty Grrrl? Have it.”

“They never told me about the new stuff,” Maggie said sadly. “And I only live a mile away.”

“Oh. Maybe it’s because with your new practical look they think you wouldn’t be interested in makeup. I’m sorry. When I go back to New York, I’ll make sure to send things directly to you.”

“Will you? Thanks.” Then, a sharp look. “You’re going back? When? Get a grip. You can’t go anywhere. You need the security of your family—” But she was distracted by a lipstick. “Can I try this one? It’s exactly my color.”

She put it on, rubbed her lips against each other, admired herself in the hand mirror, then was cowed by sudden remorse. “I’m sorry, Anna. I’ve tried to avoid asking to see the lovely things, I mean, under the circumstances…And I’m disgusted with the others, they’re like scavengers. But just look at me! I’m as bad as them.”

“Don’t be hard on yourself, Maggie. No one can help it. It’s bigger than all of us.”

“Is it? Okay. Thanks.” She continued taking things out, opening them, trying them on the back of her hand, then closing them neatly. When she’d examined everything she sighed heavily. “I might as well see your wash bag now.”

“Help yourself. There’s a lovely vetivert shower gel.” Then I thought for a second. “No, wait, I think Dad took it.”

She sifted through the shower gels and exfoliators and body lotions, uncapping and sniffing and rubbing, and said, “You really do have the best job in the world.”

My job

I work in New York City as a beauty PR. I am Assistant Senior Press Officer for Candy Grrrl, one of the hottest cosmetic brands on the planet. (You’ve probably heard of them; and if you haven’t, it means someone, somewhere, isn’t doing their job properly. I hope to Christ it isn’t me.) I have access to a dizzying array of free products. I mean literally dizzying: shortly after I got the job my sister Rachel, who had lived in New York for years, came to my office one evening after everyone had gone home, to see if I’d been exaggerating. And when I unlocked the closet and showed her the shelves and shelves of neatly stacked Candy Grrrl face creams and pore minimizers and concealers and scented candles and shower gels and bases and highlighters and…she stared for a long, long time, then said, “I’ve got black spots in front of my eyes. I’m not joking, Anna, I think I might be about to faint.” See—dizzying—and that was even before I told her to pick out some stuff for herself.

What makes it all exponentially fabulous is that it’s not just Candy Grrrl stuff I get. The agency I work for, McArthur on the Park (founded and still owned by Ariella McArthur, she never sold out) represents thirteen other beauty brands, each more delicious than the previous, and about once a month we have a souk in the boardroom, where a full and frank exchange takes place. (Mind you, this is not official policy and never happens when Ariella is around.)

Besides free products, there are other perks. Because McArthur on the Park has the Perry K account, I get my hair cut and colored for free by Perry K. Obviously, not by Perry K himself, but one of his loyal minions. Perry K, the man, is usually on a private plane, being flown by a studio to North Korea or Vanuatu to cut some film star’s hair on location.

(Free haircuts sound fabulous, but at the risk of seeming ungrateful, sometimes I can’t help feeling it’s a bit like high-class prostitutes being given regular, up-the-frock health checks. It seems caring, but it’s only to ensure the girls do their job properly. Same with me, I’ve no choice about the haircuts. I have to have them and I get no input: whatever is on the catwalks is what I get given. Usually high-maintenance, feathery yokes which break my heart.

Anyway, after Rachel’s visit, she got on the blower and told everyone at home about the goodies closet. A flurry of phone calls from Ireland followed. Was Rachel back on the drugs? Or was it true about all the free cosmetics I gave her? And if it was, could they have some? Immediately I parceled up an indecent amount of stuff and dispatched it to Ireland—I admit it, I was showing off, trying to prove what a success I was.

I am not just permitted to wear Candy Grrrl products, I am obliged to. We all have to take on the personality of the brands we represent. Live it, Ariella urged me when I got the job. Live it, Anna. You are a Candy Grrrl girl, 24/7, you are always on duty.

However, when you’re sending products to other people, you’re supposed to “sign them out”—every eyelash curler, every lip balm. But if you say they’re going to the Nebraska Star, for example, and they’re really going to your mammy in Dublin, people are unlikely to check: I am a trusted employee.

The strange thing is that normally I’m an honest person: if someone gives me too much change in a shop, I’ll give it back, and I’ve never, in my life, done a runner from a restaurant. (Aren’t there better ways to have fun?) But every time I liberate an eye cream for Rachel or a scented candle for my friend Jacqui or send a care package of the new spring colors to Dublin, I am stealing. And yet I don’t have the slightest twinge of guilt. It’s because the products are so beautiful, I feel that, like natural wonders, they transcend ownership. How could you fence off the Grand Canyon? Or the Barrier Reef? Some things are so wondrous, everyone is entitled to them.

People often ask me, their faces distorted with jealousy, “How do you get a job like yours?”

Well, I’ll tell you.


How I got my job

After I got my diploma in PR, I got a job in the Dublin press office of a low-rent cosmetics company; it was crappy money, backbreaking work—mostly stuffing envelopes for mailshots—and as our bags were searched every evening when we left work, I didn’t even have the compensation of free makeup. But I had some idea of how PR could be, the fun and creativity you could have in the right place, and I’d always had a hankering for New York…

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