OPINION: Nothing Drives Like a Midlife Crisis

A few months back, I spent a king’s ransom on some ludicrously luxe face cream. It broke the bank and my spirit because essentially my face looked exactly the same after my “six-week miracle,” and without getting into the fine print on the whole epidermis — Estee Lawdy, it cost an awful lot of money!

I’m shallow. I know this. I know it when I shell out the equivalent of a tank full of gas on a teaspoon full of crow’s feet corrector. I know it every single solitary sally forth to CVS in search of the white knight, (Sir Garnier) who’ll finally (hopefully) slay my greys. I know it later-than-late at night when those Botox ads come on and facial paralysis and other “life-threatening” conditions don’t seem nearly so bad when compared with an eternity of wishing I were 20 years younger and 20 frown lines plumper and you know I don’t want to be like this. I don’t want to expend the few measly morsels of energy I have left trying to attain the unattainable, Googling “how to get a facelift without getting a facelift,” avoiding any and all overhead lighting. Yes, it’s decided. No amount of under-eye under wonder or water bra is ever going to turn me into Gal Gadot.

Time marches on, that stupid clock refuses to rewind itself and I make a series of superfluous,  superficial slip-ups, ordering cocktail after cocktail of my own personal favorite, Vanity Vermouth. Carly Simon, I am guilty as charged, I think this song is about me, and I am in desperate need of an old-fashioned reality check, emphasis on the old part.

I make all these ridiculous resolutions and it’s not even New Year’s. I’m going to drink more water. I’m going to do more exercise. I’m going to drink more water while doing more exercise while channeling good vibes and a hairstyle icon.

I go to drastic lengths, chopping off most of it, regretting it later. My younger daughter cries. My husband tells me I look like Alan Rickman. I’m humming the Harry Potter theme song for days.

In the midst of all this mid-lifing, I go for a rhinoplasty consult that I’m sure will be the cure to all that ails me if only I had 10 grand to throw down on Natalie Imbruglia’s nose.

“You’re 40?” The doc asks. “So what’s this all about?”

“I spent a lot of money on Estee Lauder. They were having a sale and I used up all the cream already. It went fast, believe me, and where do you think crow’s feet originated from anyway … like how big is a crow’s foot in fairness … 2 inches, but these lines … you see them, right? I’m not like … imagining things. I mean they’re very much there, right? I don’t know. Sometimes I wish I could turn back time … like that Cher song … now there was some good plastic surgery. And okay, maybe this is totally hypocritical … but I liked her with her original nose so much better and it’s not like I’m asking for the moon here. I don’t want … like a scalpel to my face but I guess that’s what you’d use, right? Does it feel warm in here? It’s awfully warm all of a sudden. I think I’m just feeling a little claustrophobic or something … maybe we could open a window … I guess I have this really irrational fear that I can’t breathe sometimes, like everything is just getting smaller and smaller and closing in on me or that birds are spontaneously going to come land on my head, giant crows with their little crow feet … haha, I see the irony in this now … or that my husband is going to buy a corvette, a red one and drive off into the sunset with some much younger … arugula and I’ve never been much of a fan, to be honest. I mean, I know I should like it, like I should like asparagus and I don’t hate it. It’s just not my favorite, you know? I’m sorry, what was your question?”

His eyes are warm, like Dr. Fauci or chicken soup. I half expect him to hug me or comfort me with some words of wisdom, Mother Mary, but he just smiles and hands me his card, “Have you ever tried arugula pesto?” He asks. “Sinful.”

I head back to my car, feeling like all of this was a terrific waste of time — the appointment, the face cream, the water bra (okay, I didn’t actually take the plunge but was definitely poolside for a hot minute.) No one cares what I look like. On most days, I hardly leave the house or my pajamas and I think if a crow actually did land on my head or walk on my face, it would hurt, right? Like, that’s some confession technique they used somewhere, like Alcatraz or the Audubon and I don’t need a new nose, not for 10 grand, (talk about putting a serious cramp in my Starbucks addiction).

I toss Dr. Fauci Facelift’s card in the garbage along with any more hair-brained harbingers I’m holding out for sporting Natalie’s nose or Gal’s wonder boobs. Then I sit for what feels like an hour but is probably closer to three minutes, polishing off my latte, quietly deluding myself that it counts as my water intake for the day, like walking from the couch to the fridge counts as exercise. There are worse things. I don’t have a corvette. Yet.

Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice. 

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