I like my dermatologist. He has a sense of humor, which is something I very much appreciate in any branch of the medical profession. Not long ago, I was having a mole checked out and as he was peering at my cheek through his mini-magnifying glass, I made a casual joke about my ever-expanding crow's-feet. My doctor, unimpressed with my mole, began slowly turning my face from side-to-side, while muttering that the "damage wasn't too bad," but a little resurfacing here and there wouldn't hurt. "Maybe a little tuck on the upper lids" and a "small injection of collagen" might help with the lines around my mouth. What lines around my mouth?! With each turn of my jaw, I began feeling increasingly anxious (and ancient).
As I was paying my bill, I spotted a conveniently placed rack of pamphlets advertising all the various cosmetic procedures my dermatologist now had to offer. When the receptionist turned away for a moment, I stuffed a few of them into my pocket. As I rode down in the elevator, I felt a wave of shame roll over me, as if I'd stolen her favorite pen or something. I mean, they were free, right? People were supposed to take them. That night, with all my curtains pulled, I began to peruse the glossy three-fold brochures that promised me everything from a tighter jaw line to noticeably plumper lips. Part of me felt utterly insane, while another part kept gently chanting that this is Hollywood, where youth (or at least "youthfulness") reigns supreme. A little nip. A little tuck. A tiny injection. Who would know?
This particular bout of lunacy probably stems from the fact that I recently turned forty. Well, actually it was about ten years ago, but it seems like only yesterday. I'm told that age is just a number and they only thing that matters is how old one feels on the inside. I'm happy to report that when I wake up in the morning, my "inside" generally feels pretty young. In fact, I tend to think of myself as being about twenty-eight. I remember that age as being a great time in my life when I was full of boundless energy and enormous optimism. However, when my twenty-eight year old "inside" reaches the bathroom mirror, it's confronted with my somewhat weather-beaten "outside," which is looking more like my maternal grandfather by the day.
Truthfully, I don't really believe in plastic surgery. People tend to go into it wanting to look younger, and I'm sorry to report that looking younger is simply not an option. Most plastic surgery simply looks like plastic surgery. I recently had lunch with a friend who finally confessed that he'd been having Botox injections in his forehead for the last two years. "Really?" I replied, trying to sound surprised. What I actually wanted to say was "What a relief! I thought you'd had a lobotomy." My friend is a great-looking guy who was quite a head-turner in his youth. And nothing dies harder than allure. "See!" he said, raising his eyebrows about a 1/16 of an inch. "You can't even tell."
For women in Hollywood, some kind of "work" is almost unavoidable. It's sort of criminal the way we discount our older actresses. A courageous few manage to get away without having their eyebrows pulled halfway up their foreheads. These gals are easy to spot. They are the ones who get stuck wearing a high collar over a turtleneck with the scarf wrapped around it -- as if the costumer is trying to hide a neck brace or something.
One night I was at some entertainment event, when a very sweet woman approached me to say she had enjoyed my work on "Boston Legal." It was a little hard to determine her age since she'd had a massive amount of plastic surgery, so much so, that I found it tough to focus on what she was actually saying. Suddenly remembering my manners, I introduced myself and asked her name. I was floored to discover that she was a very well-known actress from the 70's and I hadn't recognized her. Had she not told me her name I would have had no idea who she was. I felt bad for her. In an effort to revitalize her image, she'd totally destroyed it.
In case you were wondering, I came to my senses after a couple of days and tossed out the brochures. Most plastic surgery for men has a weird feminizing effect on the face and given that masculinity is not exactly my strong suit, I decided to leave well enough alone. My favorite definition of aging comes from an old issue of the National Lampoon I recently came across. It described the aging process as follows: "Everything gets bigger, hairier and closer to the ground." As for me, I just try not to think about it. In the same way I try not to think about my measly retirement account or the future of Social Security. I guess I'm lucky. All things considered, I'm holding up reasonably well. I can still do everything I did when I was twenty-eight. The only difference is now it hurts.
Copyright 2009 Quitcher-Bitchyn Entertainment, Inc.
David Dean Bottrell is an actor ("Boston Legal") and screenwriter ("Kingdom Come") who writes a weekly blog about being strangely middle-class in Hollywood at http://www.partsandlabor.tv/