When friends kiss and sell

For me, one of the weirdest fall-outs from the economic downturn (let’s just say it: recession) has been my friends’ flight to pseudo-entrepreneurship.

One acquaintance sells Mary Kay cosmetics. Another sells Lia Sophia jewelry. Pampered Chef. Entertaining at Home. Tupperware, Avon, Kirby vacuums. I’ve endured pitches for them all.

Yesterday I got an invitation to a Mary Kay makeover (“Come be my face model!”) and to a double sales-pitch party: “Come buy jewelry and custom-made headbands!” This morning’s email contained an invitation to an upscale home-ware party.

Here’s the problem: I don’t need any of this stuff. I don’t even want it. And I really, really don’t want to spend my evenings with strangers, oohing and aahing over lipstick and food-storage containers.

After a while it chafes a bit to get a couple of invitations a day—on occasion even from the same person.

Of course, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings (remember, these are people that I otherwise like). So I’ve been trying the gentle approach. But there’s something about these pyramid sales companies that turns even the most charming of ladies into relentless sales harpies.

Yesterday I bowed out of the Mary Kay party—in person—by explaining that I have all the lotions and cosmetics I need, and that I’m happy with the stuff I’m using. The response? “Well, I’ll just keep you on the list, because you never know when you’ll change your mind.”

What a shame. I used to really like her.

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