It was an offer I felt I couldn’t refuse. Free Botox treatments, administered by a cosmetic surgeon.
One day the receptionist said they were looking for participants in a Botox study because they needed people to practice on. Would I like to take part? Huh. That’s akin to asking a woman of substance if she wants to go to a free Weight Watchers meeting. How does one respond? Um, thank you?
Sure, it may be free, but you’re left wondering, why are they asking me? Do I really look that wrinkly?
I checked myself in the mirror. I had hit the magic fifty, and there was no denying that old adage that “at fifty, you have the face you deserve.” I thought I deserved better, quite frankly, but the face don’t lie. All in all, though, I didn't think I looked too bad considering, though the deep grooves between my eyebrows bothered me a little. I convinced myself they weren’t really frown lines, but a physical manifestation of an active mind. They were Deep Thought lines. Actually, the cosmetic surgeons have another name – they’re known as “elevens” in the business (not to be confused with "elevenses" i.e., an extra breakfast) and eliminating those would be the first step. But what if I tried it and liked the results? Then I would be forced to hand over money every three months, and add it to my escalating physical maintenance program of highlights, haircuts, manicures, pedicures, facials, massage and personal trainer. (Okay, I lied about the trainer. Also the manicures, and pedicures. And facials. And massage. I do get my hair cut.) It was akin to taking that first hit of heroin. Or joining the mafia. Once you’re in, you never get out.
My inner goddess urged me to Just Say No but my inner Curious George poked me with a stick.
I discovered the surgeon who owned the clinic wouldn’t be the one doing the procedure. He would supervise trainees as they practiced the fine art of injecting paralytic toxins under the skin. New recruits in the Anti-Aging War would rent out his office during off hours, and learn by practicing on wrinkled human guinea pigs. A couple of women in my husband’s office were the first to go under the needle. One returned with a smooth brow and no crow’s feet. She said her kids could no longer tell when mom got mad because she couldn’t frown, so now she literally lost face.
Another's experience was worse. The trainee who did her face decided to inject below the eye line, a definite no-no in the profession. More often, they inject collagen or some other form of filler, but never Botox. She ended up with a frozen smile and was unable to close her mouth completely for months. She couldn’t apply lipstick and press her top lip to her bottom (and by bottom, I mean lip not, you know, some new yoga pose like the backward facing kiss your half moon.) She couldn’t pronounce the letters “m” “b” “p” which affected our billings system since she could no longer say, “I’ll mail the bill promptly.”
Still not dissuaded, I tried to justify it using headaches as an excuse. Migraines have plagued me for years. New studies revealed Botox was being used by blocking the nerves in the forehead, and even tension headaches could be treated with injections to the neck. I didn’t have much luck with various migraine pain relievers I’d tried. Maybe Botox could kill two birds with one little prick?
I ran the idea past my two daughters. They were, in a word, appalled.
“Why would you even consider it, mom? What’s wrong with a few wrinkles anyway? I like the way you look. You look like our mom.”
I countered with the headache angle but she countered as only a lawyer-in-the making could.
“Haven’t you told us all along that it’s what we have inside that really counts?”
I had no comeback to that. So I guess I’ll accept the wrinkles. I’ll try to smile more often and dig those trenches, and my elevens, a little deeper. Because these wrinkles tell the world exactly what is inside.
A crabby old woman with headaches.
And in case you need further evidence, have a look at THIS.