The envelope was bright pink with pictures of palm trees and stuck out of my snow-covered mailbox like a glossy Easter Egg. Victoria's Secret's bikini catalogue! I couldn't wait to open it. Instead, there was a photo of a tropical island without models. "Sneak away to a special girl's night out," the card read, "Join us for an evening of Botox and margaritas." I was surprised. I wasn't expecting an evening at my dermatologist's.
A part of me was flattered. My presence was requested at a gala for banishing wrinkles. But I was confused. Do I look like I need a Botox party? What is a Botox party? Do fashionable crowds huddle around a keg of silicon or is it a down-home sorority thing -- an informal gathering of gals? Should I buy a cocktail dress?
I turned to my best friend, Mabel, for advice. Mabel has two kids, is CEO of a thriving business, and runs a Girl Scout troop for tweens. "Think of it as a modern Tupperware party," she explained, "Except you're not exchanging handy plastic containers, you're taking turns getting needles jabbed into your face--"
"Ouch. Who'd want to spend Saturday night doing that?"
Mable shrugged. "Some people want to defy gravity."
"But I like gravity. And drooping. Flowers droop."
"Only when they're dead." Mabel murmured, studying the photo. "Ooh. Look. They're serving margaritas!"
"I don't drink," I reminded her.
She sighed, staring at my forehead. "Maybe you should go. Consider it as research, you know, for your writing."
The next day, I showed the invite to my oldest daughter. "What do you think?"
"Is this another mid-life crises, Mom? You just got over the last one."
Without answering, Eliza "Googled" the word "Botox" and read the definition aloud, "Botox is a drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It's the same toxin that causes a life-threatening type of food poisoning called botulism." She emphasized the phrase "life-threatening food poisoning," several times. "Have fun, Mom."
"To Botox or not to Botox?" I pondered that night while staring in the mirror and counting my creases. Sure, at 53, I could use a spring-cleaning but maybe there was just a pinprick to be had, a "Botox booster." And then I remembered my grandmother Elizabeth's immortal words, "Every one has the face they deserve." But what did that mean? She lived to be 104 and never saw a dermatologist.
That Saturday night, since there was nothing on my calendar, I ventured to my doctor's office.
"You're here early!" Alicia, the receptionist, beamed. "Do you want to meet the new doctor? We hired a specialist from Long Island."
The office was strewn with paper flowers. It looked like a Hawaiian Luau.
"I'm going to mix Sangria. They were out of tequila."
The door opened and a man bundled in a winter coat carrying a 64-ounce Canada Dry Ginger Ale in one arm and a jug of Anti-Freeze in the other entered.
"This is Dr. Ehrlich," Alicia announced.
He turned to me setting the ginger ale near the punch bowl and the anti-freeze on the counter. "It's a pleasure."
"Why don't the two of you get started?" Alicia suggested. "For you, it's only 170 dollars an injection."
I performed a mental calculation: one furrowed brow, two crows' feet, marionette lines, and a newly sagging chin -- all for a grand total of approximately $1,000.
Dr. Ehrlich took off his mittens and started poking my cheeks. "Not too bad. You're pretty well preserved."
I stared at the bottle of anti-freeze. Was that for my forehead or Dr. Ehrlich's radiator? As he prodded, I thought about the lure of having Gisele Bundchen-like skin -- the way it used to be before raising two daughters, writing three unpublished novels, and surviving two marriages. As he tugged at my chin, I realized I had earned my wrinkles.
"Thanks but no thanks," I said.
"We can always order out for margaritas --" Alicia offered.
"No, but enjoy your party!"
As soon as I left the office, I felt years younger.
"So what happened?" Mabel asked when I went to pick up my Girl Scouts cookies. "Did you have fun?" She scrutinized my face. "You don't look different."
"I don't need Botox," I told her. "I'm going to do what Grandma Elizabeth did -- wear big hats and drinks tons of water."