I'm the most beautiful woman in the world.
Before you judge me, know that it's not my assessment, but the collective conclusion of my manicurist, hair stylists, and all the other good people who provide me with their services.
It wasn't always like that. When I was growing up, I made the same observation as the great Cate Blanchett when describing her looks on '60 Minutes': 'Not particularly beautiful, not too ugly'. (Hey Cate, while I continue to hear from people that I remind them of you -- our selfie, unfortunately, proves otherwise -.. haha.)
Since money, plastic surgery and sex tapes were not an option when I grew up, I bravely chose a more conventional, if optimistic, road to upward mobility: with good education, hard work, sense of humor and a dash of style, I will somehow make up for the limited God-given dazzling physical attributes.
Indeed, the compliments I received along the way reflected that approach. Yes, sometimes I heard that I was beautiful but that usually involved candles and a liquored agenda ... True, sometimes I wished it was so, as it seemed the easiest way to get what one wanted, but I knew better ... Suck it up, girl!
But something funny happened as I matured and had money to spend.
It started in a small way. My manicurist complimented me on my delicate, 'pianist' fingers. Frankly, I never thought of them as special, but now that I looked, they seemed rather nice. Wasn't it lovely of this lady to notice them? I made a mental note to give her a generous tip so she could continue the good work.
When my dental hygienist commented on my 'great' teeth, I was baffled at first. They didn't seem at all to resemble the ones in the Colgate commercials, but when I looked closer, I noticed that they weren't cracked or wildly uneven. Maybe that constitutes beauty? While I did previously considered moving to a cheaper hygienist, it now seemed a petty and ungrateful maneuver on my part.
When my hairdresser admired my 'good' hair, my initial reaction was that of disbelief. She couldn't possibly mean the same hair I struggled with all my life? mmm ... I wonder if Albert Einstein had received and wholly accepted compliments on his hair from his barber? But seriously, what possible motive would my professional, successful hairdresser have to lie to me?
I scolded myself for my skepticism and paranoia and continued to roll with the compliments. From my massage therapist to my trainer and dermatologist -- they kept coming, and I ate it up. After all, didn't some Cosmo survey conclude that we think less of our appearances than others do? If it was so apparent to all these professionals who knew their business, maybe it was not lost on the rest of the world just because I was blind to it?
It wasn't until I was 50 and had to do my first routine cardiac stress test that I finally had a rude awakening.
As I was being hooked up to the monitor, nervous about the outcome, the technician turned to me from the monitor and smiled, "You have such a pretty heart!"
What? They are complimenting my organs now?
My young assistant was not surprised. She once went to see her gynecologist about a problem and he told her, "You have very hospitable ovaries". She walked out of his office proudly holding her stomach for the world to see, although in reality she has no plans of having a baby ... She just felt very special for that day.
We had to laugh. The enormity of the conspiracy was finally exposed. It was business 101: Always compliment the clients as they will give their money to anybody who would make them believe they are prettier, younger and healthier than they really are.
We were embarrassed that we let ourselves be roped in by that make-believe capitalist plot ... Never again, we vowed. We got your number now.
Recently, my doctor insisted it's time for colonoscopy. I looked at the prep days of brutal diet and bathroom torture and all I want to do is bail. And yet, secretly, I just can't wait to hear: "You have such a gorgeous rectum".