I could do without the massages, and my inner thighs will tell you I can stand to miss a meal or two, or seven. But oh, my beautiful Botox. Losing it hurt more than, well, sticking needles in the corners of my eyes.
As the months went by, the wrinkles returned, one by one, and there were times I missed my Botox more than I missed my husband.
Finally came an epiphany, on the blog of a self-help guru. Don’t think about what you have lost, he said. Think about what your loss makes possible.
For the loss of my marriage, there were all sorts of things. The divorce made possible nights without snoring, having a California king all to myself, and the absence of small, gruff hairs in the sink.
The loss of Botox, however, seemed much more a tragedy. What, exactly, did the loss of Botox make possible, beyond guaranteed invisibility to available men?
Well. I can wink.
On a scale of Mother Nature’s gifts, winking comes in much lower than having Jennifer Aniston skin or Bette Davis eyes. But it’s what I’ve got. Use it, or lose it.
I hatch a plan. I will spend a week winking at strangers, exercising the newfound freedom of my previously paralyzed facial muscles. I shall see what transpires, who I will meet, how long before involuntary hospitalization occurs.
I begin with my children, who seems safe enough. There’s not much more I can do to embarrass myself in front of them. They’ve seen enough spinach on my teeth to toss an entire salad, and once, in front of my oldest daughter, I came home from a run with one breast having escaped from my sports bra.
At dinner, I toss out a few funny lines (well, funny to me), accompanied, each time, by a wink. After the third, my teen-aged daughter looks at me with concern.
“Mom, do you have an eye twitch?”
I deftly change the subject to homework, and that is that. Until the next day, when at the grocery store, when again, I look for an opportunity to wink, and suddenly I get it.
Winking at someone – family member, or stranger – requires lightness of being, a certain levity. One does not wink at a funeral, or in a job interview, or when meeting with one’s accountant. One winks in the presence of mirth; whether it’s tucked in our hearts, or scuttling around on the floor, trying to get our attention.
A wink is both an expression of joy, and an invitation to the person winked at, the winkee. Come, share the joke, partake of a small revelry. A wink is more intimate than a handshake; it’s a tumble-dried gesture, not starched. A wink, followed by a smile – the genuine kind, the kind that makes your eyes crinkly – penetrates not just the recipient, but the giver. It may convey a joke, but it’s an act that demands sincerity.
As the week went on, and I looked for opportunities to wink, I found my spirit, my attitude, ascending. The baseline edged up. Change your thoughts, change your mind; name that platitude. But platitudes, silly as they are, are formed in the soft mud of truth. At the end of the week, I am happier. There is value and power in winking.
But then, I have a thought, and a great worry descends. What if all this winking is making my crow’s feet worse? I envision myself, 20 years hence: my left eye behaving like my breasts, refusing all upward motion, as the surrounding skin crinkles like French fries.
Terror drives me to the arms of Google, and there, like the moon shyly emerging over the ocean, was an unexpected thing. You may call it foolishness, I call it hope. It was facial yoga, the practice of which is said to – get this – diminish wrinkles, by, among other things, winking.
Said one website, “To help combat crow’s feet, isolate your lower eyelids and wink with only your lower eyelid. Do 20 repetitions on each eye.”
Said another, “The simplest way to exercise the muscles surround the eyes is to wink.” This website recommended 50 winks a day.
Well, okay, there were other articles warning that facial exercise don’t work, and may actually make wrinkles worse.
So, like anything else, when faced with conflicting information, we choose what we believe. I choose to believe that good can come out of divorce, financial ruin and reality TV. I believe in the power of positive winking.