Friday, June 24, 2011

For a strange reason,* over the past year I have taken several trips to the Main Line Center for Laser Surgery in Ardmore, PA, to get a tattoo removed from my upper arm. For those unfamiliar with Ardmore, it’s a cute and snooty little moneyed town about 20 minutes outside Philadelphia. It’s the kind of place where the high schoolers play lacrosse, and where you should only go into the Starbucks if you’re prepared to hold the door for the four Lululemoned 30-something moms pushing Bugaboos who will inevitably come in right behind you. There is a Lily Pulitzer shop. There is a dog store called the Bark Avenue Boutique that sells homemade dog treats. There is a local-organic-sustainable fast food place called Sweetgreen but not a Burger King. Money Magazine put it on its list of Best Places for the Rich and Single.

The Main Line Center for Laser Surgery is in Suburban Square, the outdoor shopping center in the middle of the town. In addition to eradicating tattoos, it will help you rid yourself of dermatological insecurities such as sunspots, freckles, spider veins, rosacea, acne, and hair. At its helm is a doctor who appears regularly on local television news and in women’s magazines, and for good reason. The man is unflaggingly, almost off-puttingly animated, as if every moment of his day were the most exciting of his life. He shows a perplexing amount of interest in his patients’ jobs, lives, and hobbies, which I’m sure is very appealing to people who like talking about themselves but is horrible for those of us who would far rather divert attention back to our host than face the terrifying prospect of trying to string together articulate and interesting sentences about ourselves. Nevertheless, I find it very difficult not to like him, and when he tells me how tough I am because I sit calmly -- without the aid of numbing agents -- while he sears my skin with a laser, I always feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.

Those interested in learning more about the services available at the Main Line Center for Laser Surgery can pick up one of the 19-page glossy brochures sitting on a side table in the office’s waiting room (where you can also pick up a Werther’s Original and a Wintergreen Lifesaver). The brochure details different types of laser treatments and illustrates them with a combination of in-house before-and-after photos and stock images. Fittingly, my favorite such image is on the tattoo-removal page. Look at the picture in the bottom left-hand corner. The first sentence of the accompanying text reads, “We all make mistakes.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I'm pretty sure that in most cases people don't get all the way to half sleeves as part of a mistake.

*I was part of a study for a company that was developing a new type of tattoo ink. The idea was that they’d put tattoos on me and then laser them off. No one believes me when I cop to this. I don’t know why they’d think that I’d make it up -- I find it pretty embarrassing.

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