So, this might just be one of my oddest answers to a prompt to date. I wasn’t sure what to sketch for the Doodlewash prompt of “corn” so I combined it with the Inktober prompt of “bottle” and ended up going back in time. This is a doodlewash of a now “vintage” lotion bottle from Avon that’s shaped like an ear of corn. This was a rather popular item at the time, and I would see it not only in our home, but in most of our neighbor’s homes as well. This was all because of Mary, who lived at the end of the street, and was our local Avon lady. She would go door to door like a Halloween tricker treater, but instead of begging for candy, she had wondrous things to sell. As a very little kid, I couldn’t pronounce my “r”‘s correctly so I somehow started referring to her as “Meanie” instead. She wasn’t mean at all, of course, which made it even funnier. Instead, she was a burst of cheer and energy that was almost overwhelming in its intensity. And judging from the sheer volume of Avon Golden Harvest lotion bottles adorning every single bathroom on our street, she was quite good at her job. And today, I still have wonderful memories of this little accessory reappearing each and every fall.
I enjoyed getting those visits from “Meanie” as she appeared with her robin’s egg blue box of apothecary samples. Nothing in the box ever really appealed to me, but I enjoyed seeing my mother become enraptured with some things while sly dodging Mary’s attempts to woo her on others. It was a fun dance of bold saleswoman against my impossibly sweet, yet thoroughly stubborn mother. Seeing any bit of trepidation, Mary would launch into a prepared speech about the wonders of whatever product she was set on selling. Her voice would grow louder and more dramatic as she got to the best, most amazing features the product had to offer. I honestly didn’t understand a thing she was prattling on about at the time, but I was entranced by her presentation. She was just that good. Years later, I would mow her lawn for her to get a bit of extra money during the summer. Seeing her in her own home, relaxed, and sometimes without her perfectly quaffed wig, was often a bit startling. Who was this second person and which one was the real Mary?
Today, as we all juggle our real lives while trying to stay on top of our social media commitments, I finally realize the answer. That Mary I met in her home was likely the truest version, but that boisterous woman who would come bounding into our house was very much Mary as well. People are multifaceted and fascinating creatures. Long before personal computers and social media, we’ve always known how to affect various personas in order to fit in. That version of ourselves that only our spouses see, or perhaps that harmless boy who mows our lawn, is always with us. Even when we make every effort to adopt the “best” version of ourselves, the real version is always there to supply the real charm. And though Mary is no longer with us, I still remember her charisma to this day. A beautiful mix of woman on a mission and woman just wanting to take a break from it all. The two of them balanced to make a beautifully perfect pair. Decades later, I can only hope to achieve that same wonderful balance in life. Mixing truth and aspiration as she mustered all of the courage she could to show up each day to share her wares and sing, “Ding Dong! Avon Calling!”
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, and Indigo (my “Vintage” Trio!). Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!