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Chris Erskine faces up to his face and gives Botox a shot

Personal ServiceLevi Strauss & Co.Food and Drug Administration

Not so much a typical candidate for Botox, except that I have a face like a garden glove — sun-baked and ripped by boot and fist. If Levi Strauss made faces, I'd be a 42 regular. And stone-washed.

Don't mean to brag, that's just the face I have. Genetics has a lot to do with it. Mom (a princess) first met Dad (a warlock) in a saloon one evening, and one thing led to another — an off-hand remark, some curly fries, a whiskey twinkle in her eye.

In this case, love had nothing to do with it — it was raw, rampant monkey lust. At least that's the super-romantic way Mom always told it.

That was almost six decades ago, and their legacy is this face, with all the nicks and dings of a French Quarter bar top. Caught a heel to the chin once, in a game of snow football, that left a divot you couldn't fill with a bucket of bridge cement.

You can call that character, or you can call that life.

Just don't call it permanent anymore, because there are places that can fix a face now, which brings us back to Botox. It's not just for your age-obsessed Aunt Sassy anymore. It's pretty much for all of us.

Dr. Raffi Hovsepian, a triple board-certified plastic surgeon, tells me a sizable chunk of his Beverly Hills patients are in their 20s, raised by moms who thought Botox was just part of a normal beauty regimen, like a pedicure or a waxing. You see a line, you get it Toxed (my term, not his).

As with many medical procedures, I had only a fuzzy understanding of what Botox really involves. "Shooting poison into your face" is the layman's notion of how it works. Sounds a little scary. But with a mug like mine, what do I really have to lose? Besides, the Food and Drug Administration just approved Botox for use along the eyes.

Usually, I take my toxins orally. This particular pickle juice comes in a syringe, with a slender jabber, about a quarter of an inch. I've seen mosquitoes with bigger wands.

Doesn't hurt much — a tiny pinch. Maybe once during the procedure I cried, which I do every afternoon about 3 anyway, when I realize I have to drive home through L.A. traffic, my right buttock — the braking buttock — seizing up after about the third light. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Stop. Stop. Stop. Ouch.

Besides, I don't make my living with my face. I mean, I could, were they still making movies in which Gangster No. 4 — that would be me — flies face-first through a plate-glass window in some Brooklyn pizzeria. Crash. Thump. Sirens. Stop. Stop. Stop. Ouch.

But they don't write roles like that anymore. So go ahead, doc, mess with the Mona Lisa.

The only thing I really fear are the merciless barbs of my so-called buddies when they find out. I'd rather have my pancreas taken out with sheep shears.

And under my new health plan, that's exactly how they do that.

This day, Hovsepian is working on my laugh lines, crow's feet, Clooney crinkles. As you see, in addition to leading much the same lifestyle, George Clooney and I have the same face. That is to say, classic Irish looks muddled only by deep fissures along the eyes.

I never noticed them much. You know when I notice them? In my sisters, who are beautiful women, but they have these same laugh lines. The price you pay, I guess, for having a super-funny brother — though they might argue otherwise.

I also notice them in photos of me, which are rare. Who takes photos of a middle-aged father, unless he's bug-eyed from gagging on flank steak and you want to show all your friends on Facebook? That's when they take photos of dads.

Still, I show up in annual photos of baseball and soccer teams. Alongside the faces of children, still dewy from just being born, I look Paleolithic. Even Clooney would look ancient amid that.

So I ask my editor: "Editor, do you think I could get Botoxed and write about it in wonderful and compelling ways?"

And she says: "I don't think you could write anything wonderful and compelling."

And I say: "But still ..."

And my editrix says: "Go ahead. Personally, I'm sick of your face."

Which, remarkably, isn't the first time I've heard that.

Next week: The Botox results are in.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

Twitter: @erskinetimes

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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