It always makes me crazy when older celebrities attribute youthful looks to "good genes" when, behind the scenes, they're drinking the blood of virgin choirboys and having all kinds of work done. So, when my friend Prudence asked how I managed to look so youthful at 52, I straight up confessed I'd gone under the knife.
You're judging me. I know you're judging me because I judged my friend who had a boob job. In my humble opinion, the only reason to get a boob job is if you're planning to be Larry King's ninth wife.
On the other hand, check out the photo accompanying this story. It's what ostensibly pushed me over to the Dark Side. From the hair to the droopy eyes to the shorts and the bumblebee shirt to—can I even write this?—the knee-high socks, there's just sooooo much wrong with this picture.
So, I started saving my pennies. One year later, I found myself in a plastic surgeon's waiting room. Glancing furtively at the post-op women there, I saw a cavalcade of temporary monsters right out of "Chiller Theater." Sutures in eyelids. Swollen Frankenstein brows. Bruises scarier than a Freddy Krueger nightmare.
A woman with bolts in her head (which appeared to be the only things holding her face up), shot me a look. She conveyed—with frozen eyes—that staring at plastic surgery patients in a waiting room is akin to one man staring at another man's penis at a urinal.
Look away, bitch!
In Dr. Bottom's (a pseudonym) consultation room, we sat on opposite stools at High Noon, wondering who'd draw first.
"What don't you like about your face?" he asked, forehead completely immobile.
"My eyelids bother me," I said.
"OK," he said.
What did he mean "OK"? Did I look like Grandma Moses in need of a crane to bat an eyelash?
"Well, there's just this extra skin that's sort of hanging …"
"Not exactly drooping, more like slipping."
"No, that's a droop."
"Anyway, I think I need one of those blafo-somethings."
"Blepharoplasty? I wouldn't do just that," said Dr. Bottom.
"What you need," he announced, "is the blepharoplasty and a brow lift."
I came in looking for a simple pinch of flesh and this guy wanted me to walk out looking like latter day Joan Rivers? I half-listened as he described the gruesome procedure, getting just enough gory details to realize this was serious, but not so much that would change my mind to keep my extra eyelid flesh in case I needed to grow a human ear on a mouse for one of my daughters in the future.
Next came the tricky part: how to sneak a substantial amount of money and getting my face jacked up past my husband. He's one of these annoying "you're beautiful exactly as you are" husbands. I decided to just give it to him straight.
"I saw a guy. I want a brow lift," I said. "I don't want to browbeat you–no pun intended–but this surgery could be my 45th birthday gift."
He instantly hit below the belt: "What kind of message does this send our daughters?"
But I was ready for him. "It says that when they're 45, they can do whatever they want to their faces. We'll probably be dead by then anyway."
Henry droned on about what could go wrong and how morally objectionable plastic surgery is while I just looked at him ... with my droopy eyes. I knew I could wait the bastard out.
The surgery was scheduled two weeks later, at the exact time my girls needed to be dropped off at school, so we decided my mother would take me. This was a mistake and here's why.
"I can't believe you're having plastic surgery. What if it goes all wrong and you end up sneezing through your clitoris?" she asked. "I mean, I'd love to have a neck lift, but it's too late for me now."
"It's not too late, Mom." But I thought, Why can't you just accept me the way I am?! Why do you have to be so critical? And then, added, "Did we just pass 21000 Wilshire?"
"Don't try to change the subject!"
"Make a U-turn, Mom! Look out for that Orthodox family!"
"Stop screaming at me!"
Sounds of squealing tires. Someone did scream. It might've been me.
Five minutes and no dead pedestrians later, nurses ushered us into the OR prep room. My mom asked them why her beautiful daughter needed this procedure, after which the nurses felt obligated to tell me how beautiful I already was, followed by all of them launching a mini-intervention that continued until Dr. Bottom snapped a Polaroid of my eyes. My mother watched it develop then shuddered, "Maybe you do need this surgery."
"Give me the anesthesia, now!" I said to one of the nurses.
My mom grasped my hand as they wheeled me into surgery. The last thing I heard her say before they put me under was, "I'll find Henry a new wife to take care of your daughters if you die!"
I awoke in post-op sometime later, wearing Betty Ford celebrity rehab sunglasses and immediately sensed the hellacious pain I'd feel once the drugs wore off. I'd done it! The ravages of time had finally made me their bitch.
I began a week of convalescence in bed with frozen peas on my head, a bottle of Vicodin in my clutches, wearing the sunglasses so I wouldn't scar my children with the image of their mother looking like Pennywise.
Pre-surgery, I had asked Dr. Bottom how long it would take before I could show my face in public again. He assured me his receptionist Becky, who'd had the same procedure, was back at work after three days. Had I shown my face on Day Three, the villagers would've thrown a burlap sack over my head, tossed me in a cage and poked me with sticks as I screamed, "I am not an animal!"
It took three months before I felt presentable and for Henry's disgruntlement to wane. Seven years later, I often forget I've had work done and occasionally Henry will admit Dr. Bottom did a fantastic job. Which I do not find insulting.
I won't be rushing back under the knife anytime soon, but ask me again when I'm 60 and want my turkey neck tied into a knot on top of my head.