a facelift may be so over, so 1999,so Joan-Rivers-in-a-wind-tunnel, but Cher isn't the only one who's allowed to turn back time in this provincial town any more."Oooo, botox demo!" I squeal to my roommate as I peruse the schedule for "The New You," last weekend's show on the latest anti-aging techniques. "I hear there's a doctor who just goes to chic parties and injects people!"
"What does he do?" she gasps in horror, "just walk around stabbing everyone?"
I'll have to let her know.
A middle-aged woman in a tight black dress and stockings greets me as I enter the cyborg universe of aging yet taut and perky creaturoids with blindingly white teeth and newly peeled skin.
All the women working here wear black (slimming) or white lab coats. "It's OK, sugar, this is all about medicine," they seem to be saying. "Now, why don't you just lie back and we'll prop those puppies up a little, hmm?"
Women cluster excitedly around a large, glam booth whose centrepiece is a pseudo-operating table. This is where the Handsome Youngish Doctor is going to shoot up the ladies with the latest in injectable fillers to fatten their lips, hide their lines and paralyze their foreheads.
"Sometimes he just takes people from the audience," a woman titters. "I hope they grab me. Start injecting!"
The demo is later, but I enter the spa's raffle to win free services. What? A girl never knows when she'll want a little something something. Besides, it's all for the story. I wander the aisles in a fit of surgery-less malaise.
"Did you know," bellows a clit-cream hawker into a microphone, "that because of clitoral atrophy due to aging, a woman's clit in her 50s is only half as big as it was when she was 25?"
(Well, phew! Because I'm really getting sick of wearing my jock strap to conceal my throbbing, oversized girl clit. And it just wouldn't do for my someday grown children to have to be saying continually, "Mother, puhleeze tuck your unruly clitoris into your pants. You're embarrassing me!")
Booths sell creams, wigs, tooth- whitening potions and makeup. The "lightforce" booth features what looks like a blinking bike helmet, along with helpful charts of equine, canine and cat acupuncture meridians, because if you can't be young and beautiful, you may as well have a very relaxed horse.
"Frankly, I'd rather have character on the inside than have it on view every day," says a woman soothingly in an endlessly looping video about her skin care products.
Miss Utah wanders by wearing her crown and sash. (Miss Utah?!) I check out a pile of fake breasts that, apparently, you are allowed to touch but are not supposed to pick up, squish and/or put them up your shirt. Not that I did that.
I spot two teenage girls. I ask them what they're doing here, of all places.
"Because we want plastic surgery," responds one brightly. "I'm 17. She's 20."
"I want to look like I'm 25 until I die," shrugs the 20-year-old, "so I have to start now."
"She already has breast implants," offers her friend, "and she highly recommends them!" (Paid for, apparently, by working at Le Chateau.)
Now where, oh, where, has that precious Naomi Wolf gone?
This conference has, instead, Valerie Gibson, esteemed author of Cougar: An Older Woman's Guide To Younger Men. I run over to hear her speak.
"Pity it's not gin, " says Gibson as she looks dubiously at her glass of water and then proceeds to tell the crowd about how each one of her five hunkalicious hubbies was wonderful, how they took all her money, thank you very much, and how sex with a much younger man is the best anti-aging treatment there is.
Cougar class starts to make me hungry, but there doesn't seem to be a nice piece of teenage boy around to lick.
I debate hot dogs, but the idea of eating something made of lips and bums has taken on a whole new level of meaning at The New You. I opt for a banana muffin instead. Made from dignified old bananas.
It's finally time for the breathlessly awaited demos by the Handsome Youngish, Suave Dr. Mulholland from Toronto's Spa Medica. He fields questions as he readies a woman for an injection to plump up her laugh lines.
"When do you start?" one woman asks.
"You start when you can't stand what you see in the mirror," he says sagely into his microphone headset.
"Lips?" he responds to another believer. "We can do lips. We'll find someone without lips and we'll do lips.
"I do injectables all day Thursday!" he says cheerfully. "All day long I'm pumping things up and paralyzing the face."
I watch the first injection and then, well, almost faint. But in the interest of journalistic integrity I hide behind a pillar for the rest of them, occasionally hissing, "Is he done yet?"
I almost miss the botox demo I've been dying to see. Botox, in case you didn't know, is the in thing in cosmetic enhancement.
It's an injectable drug made from botulism bacteria that's used to temporarily paralyze small muscles to keep you from frowning or squinting, thus preventing crow's feet or frown lines. The frown shot goes directly between your eyes.
I peek. Oh god.
"I think I'm going to pass out," I moan to a woman beside me. She pats my shoulder.
"Give it another 15 years, honey."
"Now, don't become a botox junkie," Mulholland warns the crowd. "Don't come running every time there's a flicker of movement."
I must go -- back, back to my ramshackle world of high-fat muffins and control-top pantyhose and frowns! On my way out, I pass a poster of a woman gazing knowingly at the gravitational slope of my tempestuous late-20s ta-tas.
"Your future," it says warmly, "is looking up!"