In case you haven’t had the privilege, after you hit 40, and particularly if you have pasty white ghost skin like I do, you can expect dermatologists to treat you like you’re a murder suspect with actively bleeding defensive wounds. I have an upcoming appointment and I’m thinking of just bringing along a boombox so I can play the Law & Order TV theme song on repeat while I’m sitting in the waiting room. It’s the only thing that really adequately pumps me up for all the interrogating, strip-searching, and nude photographing that’s about to ensue.
First, as you walk into the exam room, they start circling you and looking you up and down. You swear you hear the assistant whisper, “Who you tryin’ to mess with ese? Don’t you know I’m loco?”, but you just stare straight ahead, because you don’t want them to smell your fear.
Then they turn the spotlight on you and get all “Where were you on the day in question, when the UV Index was blah blah? Were you wearing sunblock and wide-brimmed hat?”, and you’re like, “Yes. Absolutely. I swear. I haven’t had discernible tan lines in over 25 years. Please just don’t put me in the hole.” That’s when they give you that look Detective Benson gives to Detective Stabler on SVU when they know you’re lying, so you just let your body go limp so they don’t set you on fire by tasering your paper gown.
This is one of the reasons I always keep my sun hat in the car, by the way. Sure, it keeps the sun off my highly sun-burnable face, but I also may have to produce the sun hat as evidence at this appointment, and I don’t want to go down on some trumped up charges due to a technicality.
One time, I left out a key detail about a mole and they treated me like I had forgotten to mention that I knew where the murder weapon was all along. If you don’t quite recall whether that mole was there the last time you came in, you better believe they are pulling up old photographs of your body to try to trap you into lying under oath.
And I’ve gotta tell you, having someone bust out nude photographs of you from a year ago that were taken under fluorescent lights by someone who is not an experienced photographer just so they can prove you wrong about something is its own special brand of humiliation. It’s not even like you’re auditioning for a Whitesnake video, where there’s a chance some good may come of it. It’s all bad. Every bit of it.
The only all-good that will come of it is that they might tell you that your skin is not currently killing you.
A semi-good outcome means they pull out a scalpel and only slice off one piece of your body and say, “Yeah, good luck with that one!” as they make the sign of the cross on their chest and then drop the petri dish into an express envelope to the lab.
A typical outcome means they will look at your forehead and tell you they have a special right now on Botox, and now is definitely the time to act on it, because you’re really past the “preventative years” on those forehead lines and you need to shift into “active maintenance” against the rawhide baseball glove doggie chew-toy that your forehead has become. You politely decline and then they treat you like the wife in every Lifetime movie who won’t press charges against the husband, even though everyone knows that bastard needs to go to jail.
You schedule a follow-up appointment for next year, pick up what’s left of your dignity, and then thank them for their excellent care, because obviously, you have Stockholm Syndrome since you keep subjecting yourself to this.
They will get back at you for not buying the Botox, by the way. The next time you come in they will “accidentally” call you Mr. Belvedere when they call your name out in the waiting room, and then glance at your face before looking back down at the chart to say, “Oh, my mistake. I’m sure you must get that all the time, though! Make sure you take a look at this week’s special on Botox!”
It seems I’ve spent the first few decades of my life being told by doctors to stop being hysterical about the things I’m worried about, and the most recent years being told by doctors to be hysterical about everything. It’s some kind of trite ant/grasshopper Zen Buddhism shit, which means Coldplay is recording a song about it as we speak.