One morning I got up, looked in the mirror, and saw a constellation on my face. There it was, the Big Dipper of zits: One on my nose, two on my chin and two on my cheek. Connect the dots and you got a saucepan.

“Augh!” I groaned to my husband. “Look at my face. I have pimples in the shape of the Big Dipper.”

“No, Honey, it’s more like Orion’s Belt. See how it goes across here,” he said, tracing the spots across my face.

I stood dumbfounded. Then the kids walked in.

“What’s up?” asked my son.

“Take a look at Mom,” said my husband. “Do you think the pimples on her face look more like the Big Dipper or Orion’s Belt?”

“It looks kind of like a peace sign to me,” said my daughter.

“I see an elephant,” said my son. “See, there’s the trunk.”

“Aaaaahhhh, I hate you all,” I shrieked. I was really annoyed. Not so much at my family, but at the fact that here I was at 50, still getting pimples. That at 50, I was still buying Clearasil. And that at 50, the stupid Clearasil wasn’t working.

Unfortunately, my pimple crisis was not an isolated incident. Lately, I’d had more breakouts than a minimum-security prison. As I spackled cover-up across my cheeks, I thought I should go get some professional help before the entire galaxy could be mapped across my face.

But first I conferred with some friends. They all empathized. It seemed a bunch of us were trapped in the pimple/wrinkle zone. We felt like we were leading some “Freaky Friday” double lives: Anti-aging moisturizer by day … benzoyl peroxide by night. I thought I should simultaneously get a subscription to AARP magazine and Seventeen.

Finally, I scrubbed off my makeup, put on a big hat, and went to the dermatologist.

“Too much chocolate?” I asked as she examined my constellation.

“Too many hormones,” she responded. “You have hormonal acne. It’s common in teenagers … and peri-menopausal women.”

“Since I’m not in that first category, I assume you think I’m in the second,” I said glumly. I had always been pre-, during, or post-something in my cycle. Now I was peri and it was just as much of a joy as the others had been.

She wrote me a prescription for some magic cream for the pimples, some more magic cream for the wrinkles, and told me to check back in a month.

For a few weeks, it was acne as usual. But then, slowly my complexion started to improve. By week four, my face was blemish free. I was overjoyed.
Then one morning I woke up, and a new constellation had appeared across my face. I made an emergency appointment for the dermatologist and stormed into her office.

“Look,” I said pointing to my inflamed cheeks. “I thought the creams would get rid of my pimples? What is this?”

She peered at my face.

“Hives.”

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