Getting rubbed up by the sales assistant certainly helped focus the mind – Steve Canavan

It’s not often I have my arm rubbed in sensual fashion by another man in a public place – though there was that one drunken night back in Cleethorpes in the late 90s – but that’s the position I found myself in the other day.

Friday, 18th January 2019, 2:52 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:53 pm
Moments later Steve was accosted by an over-enthusiastic shop assistant who gave him a massage

I was in a well-known cosmetics shop on the high street. I’d not been before – I’m a man and as such we don’t tend to be big on cosmetics; I stopped using lipstick a few years back as it kept leaving marks on the teacups - but the shop had been recommended by a friend and I needed to buy some gifts, so I went in.

I had barely entered the store when a young man cornered me, like a hoodlum about to mug an elderly lady at knifepoint, and asked if I needed help.

I’m not sure when this fad started in shops. In the old days I could enter a store, peruse the shelves in blissful peace, select the items I wanted, and head to the till without anyone bothering me. It was lovely. Now you can’t set your foot in Tesco Express without someone flinging themselves at you. 

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Anyway, back to this cosmetics place. The young lad asking if I needed help was aged about 20, had dark hair, and a nose set at a slightly odd angle as if he’d accidentally hit his face against a wall.

Now, as I say, I’d normally be annoyed at the stupidity of this ‘do you need help?’ question, respond ‘no’ in terse fashion, and continue independently with my shopping.

But as I looked around the shop I saw it was filled from ceiling to floor with a bewildering array of toiletries and I realised I wouldn’t know where to start – so, for the first time in my life, I replied, ‘erm, actually, yes I do.’

He introduced himself as Danny and told me, for reasons I’m unsure of, that he lived locally with his partner Dave.

I responded, slightly awkwardly, ‘that’s nice, well done’ and then eager to steer the exchange away from his domestic arrangements told him I was looking to buy gifts for my wife and sisters.

‘Right’, he said, turning to his left and picking up a lump of something that looked like a leftover prop from Superman II. ‘How about this for your wife?’

I asked what it was.

‘It’s a massage bar,’ said Danny.

‘Oh, I’m not sure that’s really…’ I started, before Danny interjected with a surprisingly stern, ‘roll your sleeve up’.

I was slightly taken aback by this but could not think of any reason to decline, so I did as Danny asked.

He then, in the middle of a very crowded store, began to rub the Superman II prop very slowly but firmly up and down my forearm.

‘What do you think?’ he asked. ‘Lovely isn’t it. Me and Dave use these all the time – quite sensual don’t you think?’

At this point it suddenly dawned on me that I was being given a massage by another man in a shop in a town where I work as a teacher. This would not go down well with my students.

‘Erm, right, great that Danny. I’ll take one,’ I said, not because it was great or I wanted one but just to get out of the situation I found myself in.

Danny then escorted me around the shop doing a similar thing with the other products – at one point he began rubbing my hair with a strange liquid that, for all I know, could have been sulphuric acid; my fringe has been a strange off-green colour ever since – and each time I immediately buckled and told him to put it in my basket.

The upshot was I ended up with seven face masks, five tubs of body butter, four shampoos, three bath bombs, a huge pot of facial cleanser, two body moisturisers (‘This is Dave’s absolute favourite,’ Danny confided, ‘want me to rub some on your leg?’) and the afore-mentioned massage bar.

It cost me the best part of £100 but it was worth it just to get out of the store without having any more body parts touched.