Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Crimes to the Third Degree.

One of my birthday presents to myself this year was to get zapped. In a good way. A very good way.

Flying By Night novel

flying_by_night_ad.jpgWhen I was a teenager, a young teen at that, old women were always admonishing me not to wear so much “rouge.” But I wasn’t wearing any blush—at all. My cheeks were naturally rosy.

I don’t wear a lot of make-up. In my entire life, I’ve owned maaaaaaaybe 3 compacts of blush for my cheeks, and I’ve used little of it, and only then after slathering foundation on my cheeks or stage makeup for a play. And even then, I’d still get fussed at for wearing too much make-up when I was wearing so little.

Whenever I’d get too hot, my cheeks would fire up. Whenever I’ve been in a secretly pulse-pounding situation—like asking for a guy’s number without him knowing I’m nervous—I’d blush like crazy and betray myself.

One day when I was about 33, I was called into my boss’ office to discuss a reviewer’s comments on my work. They hadn’t been able to find anything wrong with my work; therefore, they had to get petty to prove they’d done their job. The reviewer had finished the pertinent file with no findings whatsoever and then gone on to review a file her office had already approved. In the heart of a document that had been approved a year before, she found two periods (gasp!) at the end of a sentence. Not 1 or 3 or 4 or anything that has any grammatical meaning, but 2 periods—obviously a typo. I have a degree in English, for Pete’s sake, and I’m not upset about 2 periods.

Because the reviewer insisted the document be re-accomplished in full, my wimpy-ass boss told me to re-type the document and re-submit it through the chain of command, all the way to a General at another base, explaining that we had 2 periods at the end of the sentence and were correcting it. I refused and told him that was stupid. He couldn’t stand up to a snarky reviewer whose comments weren’t even mandatory to accept, so he ordered me to make a change on something that meant nothing, that everyone had let pass, that would have cost taxpayer dollars and a lot of embarrassment to our organization to re-submit.

(I eventually won the argument once he realized how embarrassing it was going to be to call a team back together to re-coordinate on the document and to ask a General to take the time to re-sign something that had one period now instead of two, but that was another week before he saw the asinine and irrational idiocy of spending our salaries on an excess ink dot.)

I was livid. Furious. When I walked out of the boss’ office, one of the men who worked for me asked what had happened to my face. Looking in the mirror, I saw huge blooms of red all over my cheeks where I’d burst a few capillaries over my weenie of a boss and his missing backbone.

Rosacea, my dermatologist called it, and gave me some cream that never worked. I never really had the breakouts with it—just the blushing. I hated it, especially because I’d been told since I was a Southern Baptist child that rosy cheeks were the sure sign of that demon alcoholism, and I drink maybe one glass of wine a week, and only then if on a date or having friends in my home for a social event. But to me, I felt like it was a flashing red sign to the world that I was a drunk.

A few years ago, my obstetrician left the baby business to wield lasers in the name of cosmetic perfection. He told me he could clear up the rosy cheeks in 2 visits through a new laser process. The first visit cost me $165 and the results were great! And immediate. I never went back for the second treatment because the money was an issue.

So last week, I looked in the mirror and decided I deserve not to feel bad about a few things that have long bothered me, especially when they can so easily be diminished.

So I sat in a waiting room and watched a couple in their 30’s on a “cosmetic date” where they accompanied each other for collagen injections and Botox injections. It was strange and cute. Like kids in a candy store. And ending with him writing a check for $1500 before they headed out for lunch. Why don’t I date men like that?!

When I was done with my zapping—and quite happy with the results—I joked with my doc about what else his office could do for me, especially after the happy couple had left. He suggested possibly a peel but told me I didn’t really need Botox or anything else yet and that I was in “good shape.” Even though he makes his living selling these services. He reminded me that I don’t smoke or fry myself in the sun and never have, and that I was living with those choices.

I walked out smiling. It was a nice ego boost, and perfectly timed for my birthday.



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