Connie looks at my ganache-colored wall with the pictures missing. “Do you ever feel like this dating world has gotten completely insane?”
“Yeah. Nutso bonkers.~Especially when we get the Playboy clients.”
Connie heads back to her office, and I’m dawdling over my coffee, thinking of the time I almost got implants. My ex-husband the French chef tried to talk me into it. In his opinion my hair was the wrong color; he wanted me to bleach it blonde. My nails? Too short; teeth too yellow, breasts too small, skin too white, and on and on. You’d think I was an albino beast from the Black Lagoon. Being a natural redhead, I’m very pale, and my skin burns easily. Bruno used to try to convince me to get a suntan. He bought me a gift certificate for five sessions at the local tanning salon. I told him that he’d better get a refund. Then he started in on the breast implants and threatened to divorce me if I didn’t get a tan and implants. Before I met him, I’d never been put down by a man because of my looks. I had always felt very confident about myself in that department, so my self-esteem imploded.
Bruno was devastatingly handsome with full pouty lips, green eyes, and curly chestnut colored hair. I used to stretch out a ringlet and let it go...boing! I told my aunt one day, “I’m lucky to be with Bruno. I mean, it’s amazing I was able to attract such a great-looking guy in the first place.” She looked at me like I’d lost my mind. I pretty much had.
But it wasn’t just his looks I adored. Our wedding in his small village in France was a fairytale. We posed in the nearby woods where white cyclamen grew wild, my white lace dress rising out of the blossoms, white against white. And the food! To Bruno and his family, food was a spiritual experience, savored and revered as an art form. And he was adventurous. We took ski trips to Big Bear and wind surfed in the ocean in summer. And his French friends held garden parties in the evenings, stringing twinkle lights and playing world music, the men and women in cool jeans, cigarettes of tobacco or marijuana at their lips. They talked of their international travels, their laughter filling the warm summer nights. I felt like I was in a new world, a secret club with a secret language. My French quickly became fluent, and I loved the way Bruno and I could have private conversations anywhere without people being able to eavesdrop. Oh, I wanted to please that man.
Bruno wore me down. We went to a plastic surgeon for a consultation. In the examining room with the doctor, I “tried on” implants of different sizes. The doctor placed them in my bra, and I put my shirt on to see what I would look like. Then he asked Bruno and me to watch a video of an actual breast implant surgery. Keep in mind that I can’t even look when I get blood taken, so watching a surgeon cut a woman open and stuff big plastic sacks inside her shocked me to the bone. If I hadn’t been too paralyzed to move, I’d have run from the office, screaming, TORTURE! MAYHEM! Unless you’d had a mastectomy, this was just...awful. I took deep breaths and turned to Bruno, trying not to stutter. “This procedure is...pretty serious. I mean, it’s m-major s-surgery.”