“You look like you have a question. What’s on your mind?”
After years of being asked this same question in meetings, I realized my face wore a continual look of confusion and/or despair. Why? A wrinkle/ravine between my eyes the size of the Quechee Gorge, that’s why.
I had never considered myself vain, but I was becoming obsessed with the ravine. Was it too much to ask to look like someone who hadn’t just heard that she had a terrible disease?
I imagined myself in meetings where nobody asked me what was wrong. In my dreams, nobody thought I had a cat in hospice or a brother lost at sea.
Finally, I made a decision: I was going to get me some Botox.
I wasn’t willing to spend much money, though. If you’re getting Botox for the first time, where should you get it on a budget? Groupon! Discount sales by people who need business? Perfect. Discount poison.
I got a great deal.
I brought my coupon to the office building, which was unmarked except for the number on the door. The ravine on my forehead deepened in concern as I surveyed the “office.” I entered a room where there was no secretary, just an open space with a Sloppy Man giving injections to another wrinkly woman right in front of me.
Sloppy Man lifted his chin at me. “You got a Groupon?”
“Umm, yes,” I responded, waving my paper in the air.
“Have a seat. I’ll be with you in a second.”
The other wrinkly woman left. I handed the Sloppy Man my coupon. He pulled out three vials of salad dressing/poison/water/who-knows-what and a needle. “You ready?”
“Yes,” I squeaked, gritting my teeth.
He brandished the needle with a flourish and, without any further explanation, began stabbing me about the eyes. Water/Botox/salad dressing leaked out and ran down my face.
I was sure I now had rabies or a lesser evil, maybe some salad dressing-borne illness. As I sat in his chair, I raised my (still-wrinkly) brow heavenward and asked to be forgiven for my vanity. The Sloppy Man blotted my face with a scratchy towel and sent me on my way.
I dashed to my car and promptly called my friend (who blessedly also happens to be a psychologist).
…I backed into a telephone pole as I screeched out of the parking lot.
Remarkably, I did not end up with a needle-born illness, nor did I get whiplash from the crash. God bless us all.
However, I did not get rid of my forehead ravine. Turns out, placebos don’t actually work with wrinkles. My ravine got worse after the accident and the conditions under which it occurred.
Before I had my car fixed, I answered dozens of questions about what had happened. “I, ummmm, backed into a telephone pole.” Dumb, yes. But less shameful than telling the whole story. How could I tell people that I had backed into a telephone pole while talking on the phone because I thought I was going to die because I bought black-market Botox?
But then karma really wanted to get back at me for being so vain in the first place.
I brought my car to be fixed. The mechanic nodded at the dents. “Wow, you really did some damage. How’d you do it?”
One week later, I was still hitching rides from friends and family and sending my kids off to activities with anyone who’d take them. Ten days after the original drop off, I went to get my car. It was shiny and dent-free. I would no longer have to tell people that I had run into a telephone pole.
But the car wouldn’t start.
“Hmmm,” the mechanic said. “Looks like I drained the battery.” Three jumps later, the car started.
The mechanic handed me an invoice for $2,000. The furrow in my brow deepened.
A year later, I would like to say that I’m a wiser person who understands Botox could never bring me true happiness…but I’d be lying. Instead, I catch myself wondering, what if I got it from a real doctor instead?
In the meantime, people are still asking me what’s wrong.
I’m still smiling and saying, “Nothing. Nothing’s wrong.” While considering my next move.