My Adventure With Free Wrinkle Cream And Holy Water In Winter Park, Florida

My Adventure With Free Wrinkle Cream And Holy Water In Winter Park, Florida

On the last day of Sandi's visit, I took her to downtown Winter Park for a day of "touching stuff" and a visit to the local art museum.


A dear friend from high school escaped from the wintery wonderland of Pennsylvania this week for a long weekend of fun in the sun. On the last day of Sandi's visit, I took her to downtown Winter Park for a day of "touching stuff" and a visit to the local art museum. Sandi and I both enjoy window shopping and people watching, and Winter Park, Florida, has the best of both worlds. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and we parked the car on a side road and began our adventure.

As we turned the corner on Park Avenue, we came upon a sales girl giving out free samples of eye cream. Sandi accepted the cream and I asked her what she was giving us. The sales girl said, "come inside and I will make you look 10 years younger." Sandi took the challenge and climbed up on the makeup chair.

Feeling a little frisky I told her, "I already look 10 years younger than I am, how much younger can I get." Lia, the sales girl on a mission, kept talking about the eye cream that was going to take our wrinkles and bags away.

Then she wipes the makeup off under Sandi's left eye and applies a cream the color of baby shit. Lia asks us what type of products we use on our faces, and as we discuss products, the difference in Sandi's eye is changing to taught youthful skin. I was impressed. Sandi, not so much, and she whispers to me, "Preparation H does the same thing."

Lia proceeds to apply it to my right eye and while she is applying this magic cream. I ask the cost for her hocus-pocus potion. She struggles to keep that from me, yet I persist with the nudging of Sandi saying, "ask her how much, ask her."

"$400," Lia finally admits along with, "but this tube will last 3 years. You will pay $400 in 3 years for other creams."

"Okay," and ask, "can I pay this in payments over 3 years?"

"No," she replies and states a facelift would cost $10,000. "We have all-natural products no surgery. And it will last 3 years."

In the meantime, Sandi begins saying, "my eye is burning and I'm lopsided." We both look like we had a stroke, with the opposite sides dropping. Lia has finished her shtick and realized she is not making a sale and wants to send us on our way, when I say "Wait, you need to do the other eye."

Sandi is still saying it's burning as Lia applies this magical cream to her right eye. And then coats both eyes with a clear substance which we can only assume is a mixture of egg whites and rubbing alcohol. She does the same to me and send us on our way. Hailing goodbyes and I'll tell my friends about your product, Sandi and I sauntered down Park Avenue to "touch stuff".

In the French pastry shop, the sales lady seemed unable to make "eye" contact with me when I ordered a cappuccino. Three stores later, we walk into an art/bohemian store and I come across a mirror only to see I have what looks like crusted egg whites around the bottom part of my eyes and on the top on my cheeks! I scream "Oh my god! Look at my eyes!" I pull a tissue and my makeup bag from my purse and proceed to scrape the "magic age reducing cream" off my face. It somehow sucked up all the moisture under my eyes and was now a wrinkly raw mess, puffing up every time I swiped. Meanwhile, Sandi is rubbing spit on her face crying "it still burns. Get it off!"

We manage to scrape a layer off and leave the store before the clerk kicks us out. We come upon SMM Church and go inside. Sandi's eyes are still burning, and I need to pee. So, we head to the ladies room. Sandi and I soap up a paper towel and scrub the remainder of the crusted concoction off our face. On our way out we pass the fountain of holy water and I tell Sandi to dab some of the water on her eyes and I do the same. Surprisingly it doesn't burn but is cool and refreshing.

We cross the street to the art museum and get in line to pay our admission. It wasn't until we had already bought our tickets and started into the museum that we hear the clerk tell a customer about the discount for people 60 and older. Huh, we both look at each other. Why didn't they tell us, could it be the hocus-pocus potion worked or per-chance did the holy water do the trick? We don't know for sure but hours later the wrinkles are back plus our skin is still burning.

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.

After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

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