I've had the same face for, oh, about 50 years and it suits me just fine. But, lately, it's playing tricks on me. My jaw line is softening like ripe brie. There are new crevices on cheeks that were smooth yesterday. And where did those brown dots on my forehead come from? So, I did what most women my age do: I scheduled a consultation with a reputable cosmetic dermatologist. No harm in window shopping, right?
My goals were modest. I didn't want to look like Kim K or, god forbid, Joan Rivers. I'd happily settle for a return to my 49-year-old visage. Me. But without the roadmap of "fine lines and wrinkles." I wanted to learn about all the new, non-invasive alternatives to plastic surgery. A technician escorted me into an examination room and left me with back issues of Architectural Digest and Yachting World.
A half-hour later, the dermatologist, a perky brunette with apple cheeks came in and asked if I was interested in getting rid of the bags under my eyes. What bags? I didn't have any when I walked in. She held up a magnifying mirror to my face. "See, right there," she said, pointing to puffy flesh under my left eye. "You can get rid of that instantly with Hide-a-Bag," she said.
The doctor proceeded to smear a clear jelly under one of my eyes. "Hold very still," she instructed. "If your skin moves or wrinkles while you apply the product, it will stay that way." Isn't that what our mothers told us about making funny faces? As it turned out, this miraculous product was designed to be used at home and only cost as much as the gross national product of Micronesia. She held up the mirror again. I ooooohed and ahhhhhed but thought I could do just as well with SuperGlue.
Then, the dermatologist directed her focus at my brown spots which she called "hyper pigmentation" and said that the best way to take care of them, along with the wrinkles and melting jaw line was to burn them the hell off. Those weren't her exact words. But I got the message. Live with what you've got or give yourself third-degree burns all over your face with a laser.
"You won't feel a thing," she said. "I lasered my assistant's face and all she needed was a Tylenol." Right. I'd bet good money her assistant wasn't Jewish. My People do not have a high tolerance for pain. Maybe it was the Inquisition in my DNA, but I requested anesthesia when I had my teeth cleaned. The doctor showed me Before and After photos of her assistant's face. Before, her assistant looked like every middle-aged woman. After? Her skin had that weird, glossy surface I associate with open caskets and certain geriatric Hollywood stars.
I left with brochures, samples and a menu of services. The total price of "younger, smoother skin" was the equivalent of a week in Paris. With a room in the Plaza Athenee, a gigolo and a bucket of champagne. I shared my ambivalence with Joe, a male cousin my age.
"Don't do it," he said. "Any guy who isn't attracted to you the way you are isn't worth it."
Joe's been married to the same lovely woman for thirty-five years. She has a few extra chins and pounds. He doesn't see them.
I tore up the brochures the doctor had given me and tossed out the samples. Joe was right. My face is a badge of everywhere I've been, everyone I've ever loved. It's been good enough all these many years and I trust it will serve me well wherever I go. Which, from the reservations I just made, sure looks like Paris.