My birthday was a few weeks ago. I’d like to say I turned 25…and I might actually say that after a few glasses of wine, but one look at me would give away the obvious falseness of such a statement. Lately, I’ve noticed some disturbing changes. There is a crinkle between my eyes that has embedded itself and is quickly growing from wrinkle to crevice. Worse, the line makes me look eternally angry, and I assure you, I’m not. I’m generally a happy person…except for that darn Grand Canyon forming between my eyes. I mentioned my concern to a friend of mine who suggested I try Botox.
For the record, I have always been wildly opposed to the idea of Botox. I think it’s an evil tool used to perpetuate sexism, ageism and feed that ugly monster that constantly tells us we’re not good enough. More importantly, it’s not like it actually does what it’s supposed to do – make you look younger. Truly, it fools no one. You’re still a person who is aging, but now with poison injected into your forehead and a Joker-wannabe look.
That brings me to my biggest objection – poison. Seriously, I can see the headlines 10, 15, 20 years from now: “Botox – The Silent Killer; New Investigation into Michael Jackson’s Death.” Generally speaking, poison is a bad thing. For such a health-conscious society, we seem to have no problem whatsoever with things like ‘botox’ (tox…as in toxin); ‘acid peel’ (something I was told to avoid in high-school chemistry); stomach stapling (seriously??? You want to staple an organ shut?) or my favorite, fat injections (which basically involves pulling fat from your butt and putting in your face). While fat-injections are the most natural of the bunch, I’m kind of creeped-out by the idea of taking a piece of me that has housed my anus and all its leakages, and injecting it into my mouth.
Despite all these concerns, my friend assured me that I didn’t have to go crazy with the Botox. I could just ask the doctor to smooth out that ugly crevice between my eyes and that’s it.
So there I was, a middle-aged feminist succumbing to the vainest part of myself, sitting in a plastic surgeon’s office waiting for the numbing cream to kick in before willfully allowing myself to be injected with toxins.
Doctor: “So, we’re just going to smooth out some of these lines on your forehead and give you a little lift.”
Me: “No, no lift! Let’s just get rid of this line between my eyes.”
Doctor: “Yes, but you don’t want that line to turn into an odd-looking bump, right? We have to make it look smooth and natural, so I’ll just do a couple of injections a bit higher to even it out, ok?”
Me: “OK, but I don’t want that frozen, surprised look. You’re not giving me the surprised look, right?”
Doctor: “Oh, no! You’ll hardly notice.”
And she was right. After a few quick, stinging pricks to my forehead, I was out of there and really didn’t notice much of a difference.
A couple of days later, I found myself screaming in front of the mirror.
“But why, Janie? What did you see that was so frightening?” you ask. The horror is almost indescribable.
My left eyebrow had migrated about halfway up my forehead. My right eyebrow was still in place. What I saw in the mirror was the mutant love child of Cruella DeVille and Popeye.
I called the doctor immediately and made an emergency appointment.
Covering my crooked face with a hat and sunglasses, I rushed to the doctor’s office. A nurse with enormous, swollen, veiny lips brought me to an exam room. I removed the cap and sunglasses, hoping she would realize the gravity of the situation.
Nurse: “You’re not supposed to call us until after the first week, you know. The Botox needs time to settle.”
Me: “Settle? It’s settling on one side of my face, so I think we need to encourage it to move to the other side before it settles permanently!”
Nurse: “Well, I don’t see a problem, but I can get the doctor if you think it’s urgent.”
Me (resisting the urge to cut her and drain the collagen right out of her overly-pouty lips): “Yes, I believe I would classify this as urgent.”
Waiting, waiting, waiting….doctor finally comes in.
Doctor: “What seems to be the problem?” (Doctor is apparently blind).
Me: “Well, as you can see, one of my eyebrows is now VERTICAL on my forehead, leaving me with an “L” for “Loser” marked on my head. I don’t think that was the look we were going for.”
Doctor: “Oh, I meant to do that.”
Me: “You meant to make me look like an angry stroke victim???”
Doctor: “Your face is asymmetrical, so I wanted to even it out a bit.”
Me (drumming my fingers because I can no longer express true emotion with my face): “Listen…DOCTOR…I assure you that there is not a person on this planet who is more critical of how I look than I am, and I can say with absolute certainty that when I walked in here 3 days ago, my face did not have severe symmetry issues…unlike now, of course.”
Doctor: “The nurse should have told you that we usually don’t see patients until after the first week. The Botox needs time to settle.”
Me: “Yes, I was told. But surely, you’d want to know if the settling process had gone seriously awry.”
Doctor: “Actually, when I look at you, what I think we need to do is raise the other side a bit.”
Me: “So…..what you’re saying is….the vertical eyebrow is the more correct one, and your proposed solution is to give me TWO vertical eyebrows……because that’s obviously better than that horizontal eyebrow look you see so many people wearing these days.”
Doctor: “Well, some people just have uneven eyebrows. Yours just grow upwards.”
Me: “AGAIN…and I don’t mean to lose patience here, but I’ve never noticed that my left eyebrow has a tendency to grow in a Spock-like manner!”
Doctor: “What we should do is pluck that eyebrow to even it out a bit. Let me get my assistant to help.”
A woman with NO EYEBROWS came into the room with tweezers. I’m not kidding. She was one of those women who plucks her eyebrows clean and then just draws a new set on.
Doctor: “She’ll even it out for you.”
Me (leaping from the table to the door in a single bound): “NOOOOO!!!”
No-brow lady: “It’ll only take a second. I’m very fast.”
Me: “No way!” Clinging to the door.
Doctor: “Well, if you’re not willing to let us help, I’d suggest you give it a week or two and it will all even out. That twitch in your eye should go away too.”
Unfortunately, the next day I had to leave for a business trip to Vegas where I would meet my newest client in person for the first time. I tried to rehearse my introduction in the mirror so as not to frighten the man too much.
What I said: “Hi, I’m Jane Gideon, your new publicist.”
What my face communicated: “HI, I’M JANE GIDEON YOUR NEW PUBLICIST AND I’M SURPRISED AND DESPERATE TO BE HERE! BUT YOU SHOULD TRUST ME TO HANDLE ALL PRESS ISSUES WITH THE SAME GRACE AND CALM THAT JACK NICHOLSON SHOWED WHEN HE SAID ‘HERE’S JOHNNY!’ IN THE SHINING.”
I decided that the less scary and odd thing to do would be to wear sunglasses and head scarves to all my meetings in Vegas, claiming my right eye had been mangled while wrestling the paparazzi for my client Celine Dion (what were they gonna do? Call Celine Dion and check?). My back-up plan was to keep them liquored up so that they wouldn’t remember what I looked like anyway after leaving Vegas. One night, I did get a bit sloppy and let the sunglasses and scarf come off, thinking it would be too dark for anyone to notice. My client physically jumped back and actually said out loud, “What the…?” before he caught himself and then pretended not to notice…and subsequently ordered a shot of whiskey.
After a week or so, the wayward eyebrow did calm down, but I had to pluck the lower half of my right eyebrow and the upper half of my left eyebrow to get them somewhat even. Alas, the twitch has not subsided.
Let this be a warning to all of you who wish to look younger – get over it. Embrace your wrinkles. Appreciate your eyebrows for being symmetrical and in their correct places. I just want that little crinkle between my eyes back because now I really am angry, but no one knows it. And I can report that I don’t have that perpetually surprised look. No, I’m perpetually in shock and awe.