800px-one_piece_at_a_timeI had a reading at a friend’s house and met Nancy, the mom of my friend’s husband. She was a gorgeous green-eyed, grey-haired could-be Eileen Fisher model–the kind of woman we all hope to look like when we’re old enough to be somebody’s husband’s mother.

Anyway, we were all sitting around swapping Formerly stories and she told me this one: Her 6-year-old grandson sidled up to her, climbed on her lap and asked what “those” were.

I’m sure this has happened to you if you have children in your life. “Those” or “That” invariably means some less-than-desirable aspect of your body that looks like nothing the adorable little whelp has ever seen before. The question is always asked in that curious, dispassionate tone of a scientist seeking information: no judgment, but a bit of awe and maybe a pinch of horror. My “those” have been at various times my ever-dilating pores, my varicose veins and the little white fatty bumps under my eyes. Thought you were the only one with those? Yeah, no.

In Nancy’s case, “those” were the lines on her neck. So Nancy patiently explained that those were called wrinkles (“Yay! Kids, can you say wrinkles?”). If she wanted to, Nancy told him, she could go to a doctor get her skin cut open and have her flesh yanked back so the wrinkles looked smooth. (Nancy pulled the skin of her neck back to demonstrate as she told me the story. Even that looked painful.)

“So I asked him: Should I? And do you know what he said?” Nancy asked. “He said, ‘Oh, no, grandma. Then it wouldn’t match your eyes.”

And you know what? Grrr, but he was right.

There’s a Johnny Cash song about a Detroit auto worker who assembles his car from parts stolen one by one off the assembly line where he worked for years. It’s called One Piece at a Time. That’s what some women look like after à la carte surgical procedures–parts of them look older than the other parts, and the result is the plastic surgery version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This is no blinding insight and mostly I just wanted an excuse to mention the song, so thanks for indulging me.

Photo from Creative Commons CC