4.1 Spring 2022

June 18, Botox buddy

I drove down to Busan for a face peel and my yearly underarm Botox to prevent sweating, a necessity when half of the homeroom teachers refuse to turn on the A/C.

The young female translator met me at the counter and then led me to another room for the face peel. An older esthetician prepared my face and we chatted in Korean.

“Oh are you talking to me?” I asked, having zoned out under her gentle touch.

“Oh no, sorry, I’m talking to the doctor,” she said, gesturing to her earpiece like dermatology secret service.

“And oh, you speak Korean! Your intonation is so nice.”

Yesterday, the pharmacist got all shy and told me my pronunciation was great, and now, for the first time, my intonation was getting complimented. Usually, my Seoul-based teachers are trying to beat any signs of the Gyeongnam dialect out of me.

I asked her if my face would be red; I had a blind date set up for tonight and didn’t want to scare anyone away, at least more than my personality would normally (and it would scare him a little, I can’t stop being a weirdo it turns out, though miraculously it wasn’t enough to prevent him from asking to meet again).

She was genuinely interested and laughed at my grumbles that I tend to meet a lot of… weirdos.

“You look like a model. I think a lot of guys have a secret crush on you.”

Give this woman a raise!

“Oh, that would be great! But if they did I’d never know.” I said, thinking how most adults at school or the gym avoid me.

She cheered me on until the translator came back to help put numbing cream on my armpits, which is somehow not as intimate as you’d think.

“I think good people don’t want to bother others so if I find someone I like I’ll have to make the first move.” She agreed and then signaled it was time for the Botox. I migrated to a painfully bright closet with a single chair where several people floated around me like this was surgery.

After the plastic surgeon, noticeably a man without plastic surgery, administered what felt like infinite stabs to my delicate underarms, I was finished.

“No saunas and no drinking for the rest of the day.” One nurse reminded me.

“Oh no prob—“ Suddenly my mind flashed to the restaurant my blind date had picked out specifically for the rice wine choices.

Well that was going to be an uncomfortable conversation.

I headed out, wondering how I’d politely break the news.

“Good luck with your date tonight! Fighting!” The esthetician said, catching me in the warmly lit hall and raising her fists. At a fancy clinic that caters to tourists, seeing her eyes crinkle with our inside joke was like peeking behind the curtain.

“Oh, I think the doctor said I can’t drink at all because of the procedure.” I said sadly. No social lubricant for us.

“Oh let me check.” She immediately turned to speak into her earpiece before I could correct her and suddenly another woman and my translator showed up. She told them I had a blind date and was checking about alcohol.

I figured I was all in at that point and commiserated with all the witnesses.

“Do you think it’ll be awkward?”

“It could be,” said one, tapping her chin in thought.

Well, what’s done is done!

“Tell me how it goes next time you’re here!” Called the esthetician, and my favorite person at the whole clinic.

When I go back, I’ll be able to give her the news: while it wasn’t a perfect match, the blind date was a normal, well-adjusted man and for that I consider the evening a success.

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