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Authors: Lynn Schnurnberger,Janice Kaplan

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BOOK: The Botox Diaries
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I bet it’s keeping her busy. Didn’t Lucy tell me that the host of the new pilot is the guy who …

Suddenly, I’m inspired. I take a deep breath.

“Lucy told me about the show. And she can’t stop talking about that fabulous host. What’s his name again?”

“Hunter Green.”

Hunter Green.

So now I know. Well, not really.

“Hunter Green?”

“The game show guy,” Tracey says. “He hosts
Fame Game
.”

Ah ha. Now we’re getting somewhere.

“When’s it on?” I ask innocently. “I’ll check him out.” Boy, will I check him out.

“It’s syndicated, so hang on. Let me look.” I hear her rustling through some papers, and then she says, “Looks like it’s on in New York at ten in the morning.”

“That’s right now.”

“I guess it is. Let me know what you think.”

I hastily say good-bye and flick on the TV in my bedroom. Remote in hand, I flip past morning talk shows featuring beauty makeovers, home makeovers, life makeovers, husband makeovers—isn’t anybody happy with what they’ve got?—finally landing on a game show. Wrong one. Another game show. A flashing sign on the set tells me I’ve found
Fame Game
. And the guy standing center stage must be Hunter Green.

I get as close as I can to the television and stare. Okay, Hunter’s cute. Kinda. Not exactly Brad Pitt, but not the pits, either. He’s mid-forties, I’d guess, and pudgier than a woman on TV would dare to be, but he’s appealing in a bearish, comfy sort of way. His eyes crinkle when he smiles, which seems to be all the time. He’s wearing a nice suit and an even nicer tie (maybe the one Lucy approved?) and I can tell from here that he has on a lot of cologne.

At the moment, Hunter has his arm around a slightly overweight contestant with a bad dye job. He’s making eyes at her and cooing as if she’s the only woman in the world for him, and she’s so smitten that a goofy grin is plastered across her face. I quickly figure out that she’s lost the round and is being sent packing. But in the thrall of Hunter’s heady seduction she wouldn’t care if she lost her job, her husband and her year’s supply of Lay’s potato chips. Hunter announces
her consolation prize—a Day of Beauty at Sears (maybe she can have her legs and her car waxed simultaneously)—and she throws her arms around him and plants a big kiss on his cheek. “I love you, Hunter!” she screams.

Hunter hugs her as if she’s his long-lost grandmother, then turns to the camera and winks. “We’ll be right back with lots more.” He winks again. “Don’t go away.”

Wouldn’t think of it.

I wait impatiently through a commercial for an arthritis pill and another for Preparation H—ol’ Hunter’s not exactly pulling in a young demo, is he, Lucy—and when the show starts again, Hunter has his arm firmly draped around the shoulder of the next contestant. He’s cooing. She’s smitten. Big surprise.

I keep watching. To be fair (and should I bother?), he’s not a bad host. The game itself is thoroughly mindless, and Hunter at least livens it up with some clever banter. Which may be scripted, I remind myself.

By the next commercial break—Tums and a cream for vaginal dryness—I’ve got the pattern, and sure enough, Hunter comes back on camera flashing bedroom eyes and hugging another hapless contestant. Well, better her than Lucy. My only comfort is that if Hunter’s on the air this morning, he’s not cuddling with my best friend. But then the credits roll and the screen says,
THIS SHOW WAS PRERECORDED
. Should have thought of that.

I turn off the TV and start pacing up and down in my bedroom. Oh, Lucy, don’t you get it? You may be the most sophisticated woman I know, but you don’t stand a chance against Hunter Green. This guy is
professionally
charming. It’s his
job
to make women love him. If he clamps one of those beefy arms around your slim shoulders, you’re going down.

But what can I do?

The phone rings and I grab it.

“Hey, there, it’s me,” Lucy says.

“Hi. Where are you?”

“In my hotel room.”

“You are not.”

“I’m not? I think I am. Room 920. Kind of lovely, actually. I have a marble bathroom with a sunken tub and a Jacuzzi. Much nicer than what I have at home.”

“Tracey said you weren’t in your room.”

“Calm down. I just spoke to Tracey, which is how I know you’d called. I was at the gym early and grabbed some breakfast. Now I’m back.”

So she’s back. But I know she’s lying about the gym. She’s prepared a story in case Dan calls, and she’s trying it out on me.

“What’s going on in L.A.?” I ask.

She knows what I mean. But instead she turns industry on me. “Getting this pilot started is tough,” she says. “I’ve had three meetings already at the network. The guy I work with there says—”

“Lucy,” I interrupt, because I can’t bear her talking to me as if … well, as if I’m Dan. “Lucy. You have to tell me the truth. I want to know what’s happened with Hunter.”

“Hunter?” Her tone changes abruptly from overburdened exec to squealing teen. “Jess, how do you know his name? I never told you.”

I don’t say anything and she giggles. “Damn. Has this already made Liz Smith?” She sounds more pleased than panicked at the idea of being an item.

“Doesn’t matter, just tell me what’s going on,” I say. “I need to know everything.”

She’s quiet for a moment, then says, “You don’t really want to know, Jess. You know what I mean? You think you want to know, but in your heart of hearts, you don’t.”

She’s got me there. Of course I don’t want to know. Almost as badly as I
do
want to know.

“So you slept with him,” I say.

She giggles. She pauses. She relents. “That would be an affirmative.”

Now what the heck do I say to that? I’m going to be sophisticated about this. “Was he good at least?”

Another giggle. “Another affirmative.”

Isn’t that wonderful. I’d hate for Lucy to be throwing her life away for anything less than multiple orgasms.

And suddenly, I think of the one thing Lucy could do that would be even stupider than sleeping with Hunter Green.

“You’re not falling in love with him, are you?” I ask.

“No, of course I’m not in love with him,” she says, trying to sound scornful, but instead her voice is slightly goopy. So she gives in. “I’m in … I’m in infatuation. We have this amazing bond. I just feel so … connected to him.”

They’re connected? Big deal. You can get that with AT&T, too—and with a lot less static. But it also occurs to me that if she isn’t careful, Lucy’s gonna be slapped with roaming charges.

Time to appeal to her rational side, unless that’s been disconnected.

“Sex can make you feel connected to someone, even if you hardly know him,” I say, the professorial side of me asserting itself. “Prolactin or something. I read about it. The same hormone that’s released when you’re breast-feeding is released when you’re”—screwing? copulating? making love?—“when you’re having sex,” I say, avoiding any judgment calls. “It makes you feel all lovey and mushy, so you bond to your baby, which is good. But it does the same thing when you’re just”—here we go again—“having sex with a guy. Which isn’t always good.”

Geesch. Where did all that come from? I know Lucy, and she’s going to make fun of me now. Tease me for giving her a biology lesson when the subject is chemistry. Or promise me that her chemicals are strictly under control.

But she doesn’t. Instead, she just sighs. “I can’t explain what’s happening, but it’s beyond amazing. Hunter’s so passionate. And intense. This morning, he held me and looked into my eyes for what seemed like forever. You can’t imagine how he looked at me, Jess. Like I’m the only woman in the world. You can’t imagine.”

But I can imagine. Perfectly. Just so happens I saw that look this morning, too. And while I don’t track the Nielsen ratings, I’d have to guess so did a couple of million other women who happened to be watching morning TV. It may be Hunter Green’s
only
look.

Lucy’s other line rings and I’m spared while she gets it. She comes back swearing that the other call really is business and so we say good-bye, promising to talk later.

I hang up and go back to pacing. I’ve had all I can take of television stars and lovesick friends and … 
prolactin?
What the heck was that about? My best friend is screwing around with some beef jerky game show host and I’m giving adult sex-education lectures. But I’m not going to think about that right now. It’ll give me worry lines. And that’s the last thing I need, even if I am on my way to the dermatologist.

Unlike Lucy, who wouldn’t make an appointment with a doctor she couldn’t flirt with, I’m about to go to my first visit with Dr. Marsha Linda Kaye. Maybe because she’s a woman she takes her patients on time. So at exactly twelve-fifteen I’m lying stark naked on her black leather examining table, my butt sticking to the thin crinkly paper on top, while Dr. Kaye scans my body from head to toe with a magnifying mirror that must make every pimple and pore look as large as Bryce Canyon. I cringe to think of what it must be doing to the cellulite.

“Everything looks okay mole-wise,” she says after ten long minutes of scrutiny. “Nothing unusual. At your age you have to expect a few discolorations, but as long as they’re not raised there’s nothing to worry about.”

I point to the one brown spot on my chest that’s brought me to this $250 visit. “What about this?”

Dr. Kaye moves the magnifying mirror. She peers. She prods. She takes a thin metal pointer-thingy and pokes the spot a few times. “I don’t see a problem,” she says reassuringly.

I feel relieved. Momentarily.

“We can do a biopsy if you’re concerned,” she says, and when I don’t immediately protest, she dabs the area with a numbing solution. Before it has a chance to completely work, she’s scraping with a tiny razor edge and dabbing the cells onto a prepared slide.

“Ninety-nine percent sure it’s nothing,” she says, applying a small bandage now to the spot, “but now you won’t have to worry about it.” She moves the magnifying glass over to my face and adds, “If I were you, I’d be a lot more concerned about the broken blood vessels at your nose. What do you say we give them a
zap
right now?”

From nowhere, she points a Flash Gordon–like laser gun at my nose.

“Ah, nah, that’s okay,” I say, trying to grab back some dignity by
pulling up the paper dressing gown. “Those red spots have been there so long I hardly notice them. I just use a little concealer and—”

“Nonsense, Jessica. This is the twenty-first century. You don’t need concealer when we can fix it permanently.” She laughs. “Trust me, this is minor. It’ll just take a sec.”

I’m tempted, but since I’ve been known to beg for Novocain before a teeth cleaning, and I’ve already been attacked (however gently) with a razor, I ask, “Will it hurt?”

“Hurts for a second and looks good forever.”

Which means it hurts.

“And what exactly do you do?” I ask, stalling for time.

She briefly describes the laser’s pulsating electricity, then adds, “This one will be on the house. No charge.”

Well, that’s interesting. I’ve heard they give the first vial of crack away free, too.

She reaches for a pair of eye goggles. For herself, not for me, I suddenly realize. Hello, if the laser’s pointing at my face, why does she get the protective goggles?

“Are you sure this won’t hurt too much?” I ask again.

“Trust me,” she says, adjusting her goggles and pointing the gun squarely between my eyes.

Sure, now I can relax. So I close my eyes, grit my teeth and when the jolt comes, I’m okay with the quick, stinging pain that’s not much worse than an insect bite. But it’s followed by a smell that could be a slab of sirloin on a sizzling grill. Me, medium rare.

“Is my skin burning?” I ask, panicked.

“Take it easy.” Dr. Kaye’s smiling like a Cheshire cat and holding a gilt-edged mirror in front of me. And darn if she isn’t right—my face is slightly flushed, but the blotches that have bracketed my nostrils for twenty years are gone. Just like that. It really is a miracle. Who cares about the Red Sea parting when you can witness the red lines disappearing?

“See, didn’t I tell you?” she beams. “Little things like this don’t have to bother you. We can fix just about anything.”

And now, of course, I’m hooked. Is anything truly possible? My mind races, making a top-to-bottom inventory. Can Dr. Marsha Linda
Kaye do something about those age spots I can no longer pass off as freckles? The blue spider veins that crawl down my leg?

I hesitate, but can’t resist. “What would you recommend?” I ask.

She runs her fingers gently across my face. “I’d keep it simple right now. We’ll just give you a B&C.”

“A B&C?” I have a moment of panic. “Don’t you go to a gynecologist for that?”

She laughs, but then she continues on with business. “A B&C—that’s Botox and collagen. Start with some Botox right here.” She touches an offensive wrinkle I never knew I had. “And collagen on the naso-labial lines. That would make a big difference.”

Naso-labial lines? How have I missed those? If I don’t attack with collagen and Botox right now, will my face eventually look like an Amish quilt? Even though I’m looking at forty in the rearview mirror, I thought I was holding up pretty well. But Dr. Kaye, with her professional eye, knows better.

“The other procedure you should consider right away is a glycolic peel,” she says. “Any of my patients will tell you it takes five years off the face.” She glances at her watch. “If you want to wait about ten minutes, I might even be able to do it today.”

I sit up abruptly, grabbing at the paper robe and eyeing my own clothes across the room. “No, thanks. No time today. I’ll think about it, though.” And I probably will, damn it. What happened to the no-maintenance-me who used to leave the house with wet hair and a swish of lip gloss? Just yesterday I was almost reeled in by a spiel about a $155 miracle cream that was developed by a NASA scientist because the saleswoman at Bloomies promised it was “age-defying.”

Cream, maybe. But no Botox today. That’s too much of a leap. Besides, that first
zap
was on the house, but the rest won’t be, and for a B&C—oh gosh, who came up with
that
abbreviation?—I’d have to break into Jen’s college fund. Which I won’t do because my priorities are still straight. At least I think they are. But I’d better get out of here quickly before Dr. Kaye tells me that she takes American Express.

BOOK: The Botox Diaries
7.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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