I'm not philosophically opposed to plastic surgery. I'm a staunch believer in self-improvement on various levels. It's the ways and means of getting the job done that worries me.

Who can argue the merits of a chiseled jaw line? Who can dispute that it's nicer to go through life looking perky rather than plain, or that having loose puffs of skin hanging beneath your eyes makes you look as though you haven't slept for days? It's much more gratifying sitting across from someone knowing you look well- nipped and tucked. After all, why should the other person suffer? You owe it to the world to look well-enhanced.

I am not enhanced. I never, as the phrase goes: "had work done." Several of my friends have. They've been worked over, lifted, sucked, tucked and peeled. They look "fabulous" -- code for having gone under the knife.

That's the thing: knives scare me. I don't like holding them, using them and certainly, don't want to be under one. Between looking good or looking sensational, I'll choose "good" anytime. "Sensational" connotes artificiality. It screams: look at me. I just paid what it cost to put a down payment on a house to have a flat belly, a tight butt and a nose so streamlined it can be used as a mini-ski slope.

I would call myself unadorned -- not bad for my age -- holding my own and happy with the package. When I peer into a mirror, I'm okay with what I see. Even on those rare moments when I scrutinize myself carefully and think: well maybe, just a little something-something... the moments are short-lived, and I quickly move back to the reality of "me."

I recently accompanied a friend to her plastic surgery consultation. I was the designated `other ear' in case she missed something important that the doctor said. The exchange went as follows.

Doctor: "Well, hello. It's been some time since "our" last surgery."

Friend: "Yes, but I'm back for more."

Those addicted to plastic surgery are like kids in candy shops, who can't wait to make their next selection.

The doctor examined her with lights and magnifying mirrors. He did a full face and body scan, and with eyes trained to zero in on imperfections, his response was: a rousing "Hmm."

We hung on his erudite word.

"Nothing to be alarmed about, but you're carrying around a lot of extra baggage, not to mention that there's been some drooping of your gluteus maximus. Your cheeks are sagging and your lips are starting to deflate. It's time for some spring cleaning."

I stared at my friend who, to me, seemed like the picture of perfection even though the doctor knew otherwise. While I was trying to figure out why she was here at all, he suddenly turned to me.

"And YOU," he said, inching closer, "A few shots of Botox could do wonders."

"I'm not into physical adornment," I said.

"You're making a mistake," he admonished. "Some laser skin resurfacing can go a long way. I can burn off the outer layer of your epidermis causing new cells to regenerate. The results are amazing."

"I don't do "amazing." I said.

"You'll love the new you."

I liked the old me, but asked: "Are there side effects?"

"Your skin will be permanently sun-sensitive and there's a risk of uneven pigmentation patterns."

In other words, I would never be able to go to the beach again, and I could end up with a polka-dotted face.

"I'm into the natural look," I explained.

"I can tell," he said.

And so it went. My friend grew inpatient as the attention had now been diverted away from her and on to me.

"What about me, doctor?" she asked.

"I'm scheduling you for a complete seasonal overhaul," he told her.

She sighed and seemed relieved

As for me, I decided to do a little of my own rearranging. For $4.50, I purchased a roll of duct tape, lifted the skin adjacent to my chin, gave a little pull and strategically placed a spot of the tape behind each ear holding my face in place.

At lunch the next day, my friends were impressed. "You look incredible," they said. "Who did you?"

"Ace Hardware," I told them.

Judith Marks-White shares her humorous views every other Wednesday. She can be reached at: joodth@snet.net or at www.judithmarks-white.com