Battleground Boutique Beckons Botox Babes
I have been to frat parties. I have been to balcony parties. I have attended costume parties, wear-a-stupid-hat parties, ecstasy parties, Super Bowl parties, tailgate parties, lingerie parties, spur-of-the-moment deck parties, vomit-on-your-suit parties, dance parties and release parties. I’ve even been to a baby shower where a fistfight broke out. But I’ve never been to a Botox party.
Not until yesterday.
The scene was Diona’s Boutique, an upscale (but not too) clothier recently relocated to the stretch of Battleground Avenue that also includes Plato’s Closet (basically a Goodwill store for teenagers and others more hip than me) and the busiest Biscuitville in town. It is also the natural habitat for a particular stripe of Greensboro’s hot moms.
‘“We moved here about two months ago,’” says Diona, a lithe blonde who herself is the best advertisement for the clothes she sells ‘— trim and curvy, but possessing a shrewd businesswoman’s sense of supply and demand and also a keen eye for a trend.
The Botox party was her idea.
‘“I had heard about them,’” she says, ‘“and we inquired with the doctor to see if he could do one.’”
They’ve been holding these things for about a year now out of Diona’s, every two or three months, which is approximately the same suggested interval as Botox upkeep treatments.
The doctor is running a bit late this afternoon, so the ladies sip wine, nibble cubed cheese and chocolate kisses and talk on their cell phones (‘“That house is absolutely to die for,’” a well-dressed woman says to a far flung friend. ‘“To die for.’”) But mostly, the women shop ‘— manicured, Pilate’d, hair-dressed women browsing the displays of couture in the multicolored hues and bright palettes of spring, the metallic slide and click of hangars on stainless steel racks evoking in me a sense memory of the marathon shopping trips across Long Island my own bargain-hunting mother would drag me on when I was too young to have my complaints acknowledged. I instinctively look for a chair as Tammy Styers, a store assistant, directs customers to the dressing rooms, all named after American centers of fashion.
‘“You want to go to Vegas today?’” she asks a customer, arms laden with the latest fashions. ‘“Right this way.’”
The MD, David C. Best of Best Impressions Plastic Surgery in Greensboro, arrives in a modest burgundy SUV and hustles a Styrofoam cooler of Botox to the back room of Diona’s. He’s an unassuming man with big tortoiseshell glasses and a few tufts of facial hair ‘— he looks a bit like Frank Oz, actually, though he doesn’t have the funny voice, and the next time I see him he’s got a needle in his hand and he’s saying things Kermit the Frog never would.
‘“’You’re going to feel a little sting,’” he says to the first patient of the day, a dignified blonde in an animal print skirt. ‘“We’ll do the crow’s feet area first.’” And back here amid the mannequin torsos and form-shaped hangars he leans over and injects the needle through about five pages’ worth of skin to the thin muscle that governs the squint instinct of the human eye. The Botox, which Dr. Best says is derived from the bacterium that causes the form of food poisoning known as botulism, attaches itself to the nerve endings that govern muscle twitch, harnessing the paralytic side effect of botulinum toxin A to effectively deaden the impulse. The muscle goes slack and the surface wrinkles disappear until three months or so later, when connection between muscle and nerve tries to reestablish itself and the Botox must be administered anew.
‘“This is mechanically simple,’” the doctor says. ‘“It’s not a facelift, not a tummy tuck. It’s basically a chemical blockade tool.’”
A Greensboro matron and mother of five grown children slides into the chair in the back room of Diona’s. It’s her first time, brought in by her best friend who’s been having it done for months now, and she’s visibly nervous.
‘“It looks like it hurts,’” the woman says, wide-eyed.
‘“Well,’” the doctor replies, ‘“there is a needle involved.’” And he runs down the history and science of the procedure, effectively (though not totally) cooling her jets.
The doctor turns his back and fills the syringe with Botox. The woman and her friend hold hands.
‘“Everyone’s gonna say, ‘You look so rested,”” the friend says. ‘“[They’ll say] ‘What have you done?””
The doctor bends over his patient and gains purchase on the thin skin of her temple with his fingertips. He makes the shallow injection.
She winces. Shuts her eyes. Slides her foot on the floor. Says, ‘“Okay okay okay okay okay.’” When it’s over her eyes are watering but she’s still in one piece.
The next patient is a bit more cavalier, a suntanned, bob-haired blonde who seems as comfortable with the procedure as she is with a trip to the hairdresser.
‘“It’s summer,’” she says to the doctor. ‘“God, can you do anything about my thighs?’”
She pays the medical assistant and leans back in the chair, shuts her eyes. The doctor fills the needle and bends over to administer the dose. She takes a long, slow breath.
‘“Make it go away, daddy,’” she says, and he slides the needle home.
To comment on this column, e-mail Brian Clarey at firstname.lastname@example.org.