Being in my thirties has had its perks. For one, I’m still young enough to rebound from all-nighters and yet old enough to know which ones will be the most worthwhile. Time has equaled experience, and experience has given me enough discernment to choose what stupid shit I want to indulge in…and what I should avoid. My knees still work, I’m in a highly-coveted marketing demographic, and I’m (theoretically) in my sexual peak. Yes, my thirties hasn’t exactly been the horror of a biological clock and identification with Sex and the City like I thought it would be, thank God.
That said, I’ve worn my age like a billboard of hard-living, with the stature of a still-dewy-fresh preteen only with the rugged visage of a Marlboro man. My selfies – of which I am still at an age to take, I think – began to feature the same forehead as a shar pei, and I developed smile lines around my eyes even when in a mood more black than Trent Reznor’s newest pair of pants.
After going under the knife for some curves, I promised my concerned friends that I wouldn’t suddenly go all Heidi Montag on their asses, opting to remedy everything from my cankles to a bad mood with plastic surgery. No, I swore, I wouldn’t be getting more cosmetic procedures, I had simply remedied a longstanding complaint, not injected the sweet elixir to counteract bargain basement low self-esteem.
Needless to say, I’m beginning to slide down a slippery slope of breaking that oath.
I was familiar with Botox as I’d written about it at the ripe young age of 28, back when I was idealistic and believed that I could still be desirable with or without neurotoxic proteins injected into my face. I had some wear and tear after ten years of hard living, to be sure, but my concerns at that time were more over which tattoo to get next, if I should employ a personal trainer, and what to do about my lack of breasts while still attempting to be exuding confidence and sex appeal. After hearing the crunch of my frontalis muscle being penetrated by the 6mm needle and the botulism shot into my little face back then, when I didn’t exactly need it, I’d decided that, while the results were certainly apparent, I didn’t have to continue with the heavily-suggested frequent tune-ups that my overpriced Manhattan dermatologist prescribed.
Fast forward five years, now living on Long Island and consulting with a new, local derm on my sensitive skin. It was in this new office that I met Beth, the RPA-C who was on staff that day.
If there’s one thing I’m a sucker for just as much as bald men, it’s a pretty face. While I’m sure she would be a stunner in any profession, Beth’s proximity to cosmetic dermatology certainly had bolstered her already perky, bright-eyed, plump-lipped smile. I quickly unleashed a verbal torrent of questions that she patiently answered, and somehow or another wound up agreeing to another round of Botox. (Note: “somehow or another” meaning that I complained about my wrinkles and she suggested Botox.)
“Great!” Beth said to my consent. “How much mobility do you want in your face?”
I looked at her, waiting for the visual cue to laugh at her joke. None came. Perhaps because her face was stuck?
“For example, I have a moderate amount of mobility now,” she said, raising her gorgeous forehead a millimeter, furrowing her brows together even less. “I used to have a lot more, but I’ve let some of it wear off because I felt like I looked a little bit frozen.”
I thought for a hot second and decided that I would be comfortable with anything from the facial mobility of a statue to the emotional oscillations of an inanimate object.
“I don’t care,” I replied. “Just make me look like an unaffected fifteen year old.”
“Perfect! We can do that!” she chirped.
One week later I was back in the chair, trying to chat up my blonde Botox goddess to no avail. Crunch, crunch, crunch went the needle into the muscles of my forehead and the tissue around my eyes. She sent me off with an ice pack and instructions not to lean over, exercise, and to call if my eyes “went numb,” as there were drops for that. Also, no aspirin. Also, come back in two weeks, in case my muscles overcompensated, whatever that meant. Also, if I stopped breathing, felt itchy, or passed out.
She did not show me a mirror. She asked me if I was okay.
“We injected a lot,” she said. “But I think there will be minimal bruising. You should be totally fine, but call if you have any questions.”
I stuttered a thank you, smiled, and left in a rush, anxious to check my new face out in the car.
I’d forgotten that not all cosmetic procedures are as evident as coming to in a recovery room with a sudden five inches of increased frontage and a bandage covering new breasts. My face seemed…the same. Only now with a few barely visible needle pricks like microscopic freckles along my brow. I sighed. At least it had been considerably cheaper than my previous, limited excursion.
Within one day, my disappointment had settled much like the tracks of time had settled on my face. What was worse, I battled what felt like an epic tension headache for thirty six hours after my tête-à-tête with the toxin.
“Do you notice any difference?” I asked Bean when we were browsing at Topshop in the city, as I rifled for yet another dose of Tylenol for my headache.
“Nope. But I thought you were cute before,” she said.
I tried to shop the years away and bought a fluffy tulle skirt that made me feel six years old, knowing that I’d never wear it without looking like Willem Dafoe in a tutu.
Maybe I should just accept my age, I thought. Mature with dignity. I mean, look at Hellen Mirren, at Dame Judy Dench…
Certainly I could be in good company as my slowly decaying youth paraded its way across my exterior. At least I’d be young at heart! (Untrue. I have no heart.)
Several nights later, while hanging out with friends, I felt something I can only describe as similar to ice cream headache only without the pain creep along my brow. Nothing terrible, but persistent, I ignored it. As I got ready for bed later that night and turned on the shower, I glanced in the mirror.
Also, wrinkleless. Suddenly I was sixteen again. While I couldn’t express it, at least not through my features, I was overjoyed. The Botox, it seemed, had set in. (After a quick Google search, I learned that the injections start to work within two to three days, with their maximum effect taking hold about a week after the appointment, on average.)
Since then, I still can’t feel my face, but trust me, I feel great. And I can suddenly deadpan, something that had previously alluded me as a skill. Although I default to giggles as quickly as ever, my automatic eyebrow raise has been stopped in its tracks, literally. As with the boob job, I’m thrilled with the results. I’ll maintain this facial paralysis until I’m locked away in a nursing home to rot in front of my game of mahjong…which I’ll be playing with my husband, who will undoubtedly soon be secured as a result of my childlike countenance and teenager tits.
Though I swear, guys, this is it. Duck lips and hair extensions won’t be next. Maybe.