Ency, enjoying a facial mask.
  • Ency, enjoying a facial mask.
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The story is as old as Avon. A salesperson slips into your social sphere, and the “social” invitations follow. But these aren’t casual, gather-round-the-teapot chatter fests – they’re nets cast far and wide, for the sole purpose of gathering wallets into one woman’s house. These nets are thinly disguised with labels such as Makeover Party, Candle Bash, Sexy Lingerie Soiree, and Wine Night.

As a rule, I don’t attend such “parties.” I like to do my shopping in private, as is my technological right, without someone standing over my shoulder and yapping in my ear about this lotion’s superior ingredients or that wine’s incredible terroir. Just pass me the catalog, offer me a taste, and I’ll do the deciding on my own, ideally not while you’re staring at me. But, despite my aversion to sales pitches, as with every rule, I have my exceptions. Case in point -- when my mother-in-law, Ency, asked if I would accompany her to a “facial party,” I was all about it.

I had plenty of reasons to be interested – I enjoy spending time with my mother-in-law on my short visits to her home on Martha’s Vineyard, I’m always on the lookout for good lotions, and I heard there would be wine and food. All that, added to the fact that the hostess of this party was a dear woman in whose Manhattan apartment I had experienced her kindness and warmth firsthand over afternoon tea, and the decision was easy.

“She promised we won’t have to buy anything, she just wants us there because it should be fun,” Ency said, after asking if I would accompany her.

“It sounds like fun, and I’m honored to be invited. And even though I know she doesn’t expect us to buy anything, that she’s just hosting this at her house, I’m still bringing my credit card, because, well, you never know.”

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