A few years ago, I was in the middle of an earnest six-mile treadmill run at the gym when Laura, my former composition student who works as a personal trainer, came up to me and said she had a story she knew I’d like. I slowed down the treadmill considerably so that I could fully listen.
The story had happened a few days earlier in the women’s locker room. Laura saw a seventy-five-year-old, artificially-tanned, bleach-blonde woman stripping out of her gym tights, and as she did, she revealed her spectacular, smooth, milky white silicone breast implants. Laura said that about ten other breast-augmented women, mostly in their early twenties, had their eyes fixed on the seventy-five-year-old’s nude body and all at once their jaws dropped. It wasn’t the upward-pointing, massive artificial breasts that made the old woman such a remarkable and frightening sight. It was the stark contrast of those missile-like breasts, the appendages of a nineteen-year-old, with the woman’s nicotine-coated, wrinkled, leathery body, her skin’s creases and grooves reminiscent of an aged elephant’s sun-cracked hide. Laura said there was this moment of collective terror, evinced by the shared glances of the young women, because they knew in that instant that they were, thanks to their chain smoking, their breast-enlargements, and their frequent trips to the tanning booths, on the same path as the old woman. They had in that instant, I inferred from Laura’s story, access to a sort of nicotine-stained crystal ball that afforded them a snapshot of themselves a half century later, and what they saw inside that crystal ball made them gasp and shudder with horror.
I suspect most of us have some variation of a nicotine-stained, silicone-breasted figure, some lugubrious, repellant doppelganger that we are molding ourselves into.
For a deeper look into this terrifying crystal ball, take at peek at Bravo TV's The Real Housewives of Orange County.