I'm turning 40 next week. Instead of being a whiny crybaby over it, I've taken strategic measures throughout the year to not let this milestone bother me, and to look at it as a positive event to be excited about. I started setting some realistic goals. I made writing a priority for the first time in years. I decided to drink fewer Diet Cokes. I chose to overcome some of my many fears, dubbing the summer at the neighborhood swimming pool, "The Summer of Jumping In." My 9-year old would swim off, mortified, while I stood terrified on the edge of the deep end, plugging my nose and shrieking loudly as I splashed inside, frightening the lifeguards. But by the end of the summer, on my last jump, I went in without holding my nose. It became a defining moment: jumping into a new decade.
Because turning 40 is such a big deal, I really tried not to spend unnecessary time obsessing over my looks. But let's be real here: society wants us to obsess over our looks. It simply can't be helped. When I get ready each morning, I finish my hair and make-up and channel my inner Grandma Mabel. Grandma was a glamorous woman who wore fantastic handbags and shoes, and fancy screw-on earrings she called “earbobs.” She would stand dramatically in front of her mirror after she finished applying her bright orange lipstick and white Coty face powder and say, “Well, I’ve done the best I can do with what I’ve got.” Poor grammar aside, she had a wonderful attitude.
This attitude is fine until you consider my forehead. No matter how hard I’ve tried to ignore them, the three omnipresent lines across my forehead have been mocking me in my reflection like an animated set of moving guitar strings. I actually imagine them singing to me like the popcorn and soda guys on the “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” cartoon.
Two weeks ago, I had enough and went to my salon in search of bangs. I cheerfully took the glass of wine offered by the receptionist, sat down in a cozy couch, pulled out my phone and logged onto Facebook with three simple words: "Bangs over Botox!"
I can't take credit for that hilarious line. It came from my coworker Lita, a gorgeous woman of Italian descent who will age like Sophia Loren while I age like Kathy Bates. She’s a few years older than me (we won't tell how many), but she taught me that bangs over Botox is the way to go. Never mind that she has the skin of a 9-year old and I spent the majority of my junior year in high school in a tanning bed; I will still take her advice if it means avoiding the needle.
Since my early 30's, I've sworn I would never use Botox for several reasons. I’m not fond of needles, especially not ones in my face. I don't like how Botox works wonders on a forehead but makes people's temples look crepey and weird. But most of all, I’m the person who obsesses over possible side effects which include: “blurred vision, decreased eyesight, drooping eyelids, swelling of your eyelids, and dry eyes”. While I have plenty of friends who have used Botox with great results, I am certain that I’d be the one person who tried Botox who left a little more legally blind than I already am, looking like Droopy Dog.
It’s not that I haven’t considered it. In fact, I’ve kept a prescription for Botox in my handbag for years now, ever since the fateful day when my dermatologist's PA, who can’t be a day over 27, peered carefully at my forehead and said, "You know, I get a little Botox right here (pointing to her shiny white forehead). You can’t even tell, can you?”
It wasn't really a subtle hint. She wrote up the prescription and smiled sweetly, patting herself on the back for her little Botox evangelism. And it worked, at least a little, because I kept the prescription in my bag. I just never got the courage to fill it.
Getting bangs seemed like a much more reasonable alternative. I haven’t had bangs in years, mainly because my stylist Danny refuses to let me get them. I have thick hair, a cowlick, and I’m known for a constant ponytail because I’m too lazy to style my unruly hair. And while I pay good money for a cut and color on a fairly regular schedule, beyond that, my hair routine consists of weekly gray-plucking sessions at stoplights. It's a wonder I have hair at all.
This time, I had to beg Danny to give me bangs. I showed him the photo of Reese Witherspoon with the lovely side-swept bangs, explaining that I was turning 40 in a few weeks, and this was a great way to ring in a new decade. He groaned, but in the end, he agreed to make it happen. And when I left the salon, he gave me what I asked for and more. For an afternoon, I swear, my bangs looked just like Reese Witherspoon's! Even Danny admitted that they looked better than he thought they would. When my sister and I went to dinner to celebrate, I felt like a whole new girl.
Then I washed my hair. Then I dried it. And now, I am seriously regretting the bangs. My new bangs regret me as well, as they seem to have a life of their own. Instead of gracefully covering up the guitar strings, they stick straight up or flop over to the side, defeated. When I look in the mirror now, staring back at me is a dreadful combination of Davy Jones from the Monkees (God rest his soul) and John Bon Jovi. If it weren’t for Goody’s half-size bobby pins, I just might start wearing a wig. I'll wait several weeks before making an appointment with Danny so he can help me formulate a bang-growing plan, simply because I can't take the shame of admitting he was right all along.