Thursday, December 4, 2008

On Becoming Tummy-tuck-ilicous

Yes, Darlings: I had a tummy tuck, one of the rare cases where the plastic surgeon improves things through subtraction. I am now the proud owner of a concave tummy - tummy - tummy - oops, how embarrassing! It echoes.

My decision to “slice, scoop & stitch” was the direct result of a previous weight loss, namely, the 220-pound husband I divorced. So here I was feeling free for the first time, but in need of a serious inventory about how I felt about myself, starting with my body.

I've always been slender, but had added a pound a year that I no longer had the metabolism to burn off by skipping lunch. I had delivered three boys naturally, so no Caesarean scars, and by luck, no stretch marks; however, there was my kangaroo belly pouch, the gated community where my body fat went to retire.

On the bright side, my bust was now a whopping 36 inches.

Then again, so was my waistline.

OK, Mama wants her body back. “But won’t it hurt?” asked a fearful friend, one who had passed two human beings through her own body. Well, much like having babies, some things are worth the risk. I had to ask myself, how much is it worth to feel good about my body, whether with a lover or not? To walk proudly, instead of schlumping around with my apologetic “Sorry-I-used-to-be-hot” gait? To be able to swan into any clothing store and buy a medium without trying it on? To be able to see the tops of my thighs? And what if I live to be 101, like my grandmother, Bubbe Shirley, may she rest in peace? Well, when I prorated it the cost of the surgery out over the next half a century, it turns out I will be paying less than a dollar a day for these marvelous privileges. That’s far less than I pay for my daily frappacinos. Talk about bargains!

On the downside:
- the doctor drew lines on my skin with a Sharpie to mark where the cutting and scooping would take place - all those swirls and angles made my belly look like a John Madden playbook;
- a couple of uncomfortable weeks out of commission, spent not being able to straighten up and draining little bags of blood into measuring cups (not as bad as it sounds);
- some pain, but the Percoset haze makes it hard to remember;
- I, who had never had a scar in her life, would now sport a hip-to-hip Frankenstein line at bikini level, starboard to port, limiting me to wearing briefs should I opt out of one-piece bathing suits;
- a few grand less in the bank, which I would have spent on therapy anyway.

Ooh, I almost forgot the biggest bonus of all: no need for any future boob jobs! Now my party girls, buoyed by twenty solid years of hot fudge sundaes, look positively zeppelin-like in contrast to the ironing board belly below. Yippee!

Conclusion: Darlings, it’s so totally worth it!

Despite the fact that it was achieved sans sweaty workouts, my tummy tuck feels like an accomplishment: now I walk with a spring in my step; my billowing, non-date-granny panties were ceremoniously burned. Beneath my clothes, which I am once more able to fit in, I wear underwear I bought at the shrines of my new mentors, Frederick and Victoria. When I finally did get a boyfriend, he was too distracted by the hot sex to pay much attention to the scar.

There was, however, one awkward moment . . .

When I did re-enter the dating arena, there was the issue of how to break the truth about my new body to a potential beau. Do I want to lure him into a clinch and then surprise him? Or do I give him fair warning up front? (So to speak.) It’s a fine line to tread: I’m risking either “Eureka!” at the flat tummy or “Yikes!” at the scar. Hmmm ...

On my first a blind date after the surgery (not with the one who eventually became my boyfriend), my date and I had been chatting for nearly an hour when I found I simply could not contain my secret another minute.

“I just want to let you know,“ I began, “that I’ve recently had an operation.”

“Okaaaaaaaay,” intoned the poor man, in that slow, cautious way guys have when they’re wondering how to appear sensitive while simultaneously calculating how fast they can sprint for the door.

I couldn’t resist: “I’m now officially a woman!”

Did I mention that, along with a Low Blurting Threshold, I simply can’t pass up a really good chance to mess with people’s heads? Unfortunately, there is no corrective surgery or even pharmaceuticals to deal with that one.

I got a real good look at his bridgework, but there was no second date.

Poor guy: he’ll never know the tummy-tuck-ilicious woman he missed.