As far as I’m concerned, the Southern Women’s Show arrived just in the nick of time. I turned 40 a year ago, and I immediately noticed a difference. Suddenly, everyone seemed to be talking plastic surgery. Everywhere I went, everybody was talking about peels and lifts and lids. At fancy pay parties, the topic would come up before the salads were removed from the table.
At first, I didn’t take it personally. Then, one terrible morning, I noticed that my eyelids seemed puffier than usual. I attributed it to the fact that I’d had sushi the night before. But then the next morning the puffiness was still there. What’s worse, when I tugged on it to make it go away, it was minutes before it snapped back into place.
From then on, the puffiness just got puffier. Everytime I looked in the mirror, all I could see was a hideous flap of eyelid skin. I find myself staring unashamedly into other women’s eyes. I desperately wanted to get a professional opinion, but I couldn’t figure out how to hide the consultation fee from my husband. He doesn’t think much about cosmetic surgery, but that’s a man for youeven a 41-year-old man.
Then, just a week ago I was standing over the recyling bin, leafing through the Sunday paper, when, despite the weight of my droopy eyelids, I noticed an ad for Southern Plastic Surgery. “Southern secrets will help you look your best this summer...and beyond.” Southern Plastic Surgery was inviting me to visit a booth at the Southern Women’s Show. For the modest price of a ticket to the show ($6), I would be able to talk with real professionals about the wonders of cosmetic and laser surgery. Maybe, while I was there, I might stumble across some new food products or pick up a sample of the new fat substitute, Olestra. My prayers were answered. I was on my way.
It wasn’t hard to find Southern Plastic Surgery. Their double-wide booth was sharing a pavillion with Aesthetica, a line of skin-care products guaranteed to “diminish the signs of aging and sun damage.” Whew, guilty on both counts.
I was still 5 feet away from Booth 743 when a Southern Plastic Surgery representative spotted me as a potential client. A pleasant woman in a crisp white coat inquired, “How can I help you today?” Not one to pussyfoot around, I desperately blurted out, “My eyes! What can I do about my eyes?”
She studied my sun-damaged face and my drooping eyelids. “Blepharoplasty,” she prescribed and whisked a brochure into my hands.
“Is this out-patient surgery?” I asked.
“Oh yes,” she answered. “We can do it in our offices.”
“How long would I be out of circulation?”
“About a week, but some of our patients don’t take any time at all. They’ve already told everyone they’re having it done.” I didn’t know if I could be that bold.
“How much does it cost?”
“That depends on whether you’re just having your uppers done or your uppers and your lowers,” she said as she peered more and more intently into my eyes. I was certain I was getting droopier by the moment. “Your lowers don’t look too bad. You could probably get by with just your uppers.”
To be sure, she advised me, I would have to talk with Dr. Davis. At that moment, Dr. Davis was taking a break.
Strolling to the other side of the booth, I discovered PhotoDerm. With summer just around the corner, I had already begun to fret about the spider veins on my thighs. I had tried tanning them off, but who wants to risk more sun damage? Tan in a can is only temporary. Sclerotherapy is hard to pronounce, and, when you say it right, it sounds painful. Yuck. PhotoDerm, on the other hand, promised to eliminate unattractive veins without injections or surgery. I filed a PhotoDerm brochure with my blepharoplasty brochure and moved on to the Beverly Hills Cold Wax booth, where a young girl was cheerfully demonstrating how the product worked. She applied the wax and a body strip to a volunteer arm, pressed it firmly and then quickly peeled off the strip, taking with it a patch of arm hair. The volunteer smiled and swore that it didn’t hurt a bit. I asked if the cold-wax system worked for bikini lines and was assured that it did. The young woman did admit that removing bikini-line hair could be a tad more uncomfortable than removing arm hair. I guess pain is relative. I recall the only time I ever tried a bikini hot wax. Only during childbirth have I experienced such excruciating pain, but at least I got a baby out of that experience. I passed on the cold wax and made a mental note to pick up a bottle of Nair.
Passing quickly through the fashion and home-lifestyle areas of the showhow many appliqued T-shirts and potpourri pots does a woman need?I made my way to the Nashville Gas Kitchen, searching for my friend, the food personality Mary Carter, who had spent the previous week preparing to cook in the Nashville Gas kitchen. Mary was on break, but a Nashville Gas representative invited me to come back at 3:30, when I could see the Oilers cook. Those pesky Oilersthey’re everywhere these days.
From there, I wandered into the Kroger Land of Food and launched my search for Olestra, the miraculous fat substitute that promises to allow Americans to eat whatever they want without fear of getting any fatter than they already are. I had heard about the warning on the package, but I wanted to see it for myself. I may not have the wording exactly right, but what I remember is something like this: “Warning! Use of this product may cause anal leakage.” I think you get the picture. If that won’t make you eat less, I don’t know what will. Olestra hasn’t yet made it onto the Kroger shelves yet. I hope they stock it next to the Depends.
I squeezed into the line that snaked past the food booths offering bite-sized morsels of Jimmy Dean sausage, Butterball turkey, Edy’s ice cream sandwiches, Hormel ham, Hygrade hot dogs and Newman’s Own salsa (good, but not as good as Tanya Tucker’s).
Finally, after another taste-deadening aisle of cheese food and pre-packed salads, I stumbled onto a new product that may actually revolutionize Southern culture as we know it. From that bastion of sweet tradition, Dixie Crystals, comes Quick ’n’ Sweet Sugar for Iced Tea. That’s right, sugar especially made for iced tea. Sales manager W. Whitaker Byran explained that Quick ’n’ Sweet eliminates forever a problem that has perturbed Southerners for generationsundissolved sugar sludge in the bottom of the tea glass. Quick ’n’ Sweet, which contains a touch of CrystaBlend sweetener, whatever that is, dissolves twice as fast as regular sugar. Not only that, but it’s twice as sweet as the regular stuff.
Quick ’n’ Sweet comes in individual serving packets (handy for business trips) and in an 11-ounce canister for high-volume tea drinkers. It also comes in flavorsSweet Cane (which tastes, I suppose, like sugar), raspberry, lemon and peach. Now on Kroger shelves.
By the time I’d fought my way out of the food sampling line, I was already late to pick up my son, Harry, who was supposed to be at a birthday party. So I didn’t have time to visit the Southern Plastic Surgery booth for my personal consultation with Dr. Davis. I may regret my decision if I have to wait until next year’s Southern Women’s Show. By then, I’ll probably need to have my lowers done too.