Did you ever look at your parents and think, “Who the heck are you?”
It happens. Trust me.
The people you think you know best in the world can suddenly do something so unexpected that you question your entire relationship with them. Instead of being their offspring, you feel like a mere acquaintance.
I had that experience back in the early 1990s when I phoned my parents for our usual Sunday chat - rates were lower on Sundays in the days when a phone call meant being tethered to both the wall and the telephone company - and they told me they would be incommunicado for a week or so because they were heading to New York City.
“Two for the price of one!” my dad boasted.
“WHAT???” I must have screamed into the phone.
There was so much that was wrong with this, it was so out of character for my mother and father, that I didn’t know where to start. The whole notion of facelifts had been my dad’s, I knew that. Handsome as a movie star when he was young, aging bothered him more than it ever vexed my mother who’d always thought she was plain, even though she wasn’t.
Men are often more vain than women, I’ve learned since. At the time, I thought he was having some kind of gender-bending mid-life crisis.
My parents were not rich, plastic surgery people. For years I’d frosted my mother’s hair to save the cost of a trip to the beauty parlor. My dad wore suits from the outlet mall and polyester ties. They drove compact cars. They ate at diners. My father had been a carny for a while, for heaven’s sake.
Nothing about these two suggested they’d be candidates for cosmetic surgery, as if they were working class Joan Riverses or Liberaces.
Who were these 60-somethings so worried about their jowls and turkey necks that they were willing to go to NYC and let some doctor - a surgeon they’d never met, I was about to learn - carve up their faces?
“Whaddya mean, two for the price of one?” I asked suspiciously.
“Don’t worry, it’s totally on the level,” my father assured me. “This is a doctor that advertises on WOR. You know, the radio station where Bob and Ray used to work.
“He has a new two-for-one facelift ad running and I called and made an appointment.”
My parents were going to a surgeon who advertised on a radio station that once aired a two-man comedy team that had amused my father in the 1970s.
Who are these people, I wondered, again.
“You mean you’re going up for a consultation?” I asked hopefully.
“No, for the surgery,” Dad replied. “On Monday.”
No need to meet with the doc beforehand, he explained. They were taking their medical records to prove that they could survive anesthesia. They were all set.
“Is he board certified?” I asked, dreading the answer.
“He’s on the radio,” my father said impatiently.
Radio advertising. It works!
I called them after their BOGO surgeries and I thought they were having a little trouble talking, like their faces were too tight. But when I saw them about a month later, I hated to admit it, but they looked good. Really good.
Refreshed. Well-rested. Younger.
Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought my mother’s mouth turned up a little at the corners as it hadn’t before. She could be a tad cranky. New Mom had a friendly visage.
My dad’s eyebrows were a lot pointier than before his skin had been tightened, but the crow’s feet were mostly gone and New Dad was smiling all the time.
Why am I telling you this? Because I’d forgotten all about buy-one-get-one medical procedures. Until I opened a Groupon email and perused the latest discounts.
There it was: Two for the price of one, laser eye surgery.
Look, I like Groupon. I scored great seats for “The Book of Mormon” at Chrysler Hall on that site. My daughter found a terrific deal on a facial. Friends have enjoyed restaurant meals, hotel rooms and framing discounts on the e-commerce marketplace. Personalized M&Ms are being offered this week. Very tempting.
But EYE SURGERY? The kind of thing that could leave you blind if it goes bad?
That’s not for me. At any price. I’ll just keep getting stronger glasses every year.
On the other hand, I know two people who took advantage of BOGO medicine. Worked out beautifully for them.