I had a very important appointment last Thursday morning. It was downtown and I had to be there at 9:00 am, after dropping off the kids for their last day of school. I really wanted to look my best and feel fresh for it so I woke up extra early to take a full service shower. You know the kind: shaving your legs and underarms, exfoliating your whole body, using a pumice stone on calloused heels and shampooing and conditioning your hair.

I was a little concerned about having a rosacea episode while at my appointment so once I got out of the shower, I applied the super expensive serum to my face using the sample vial my dermatologist had given me. And for extra protection, after that dried, I put a few drops of Visine on the bulb of my nose.

My recent eyebrow and bikini wax still looked pretty fresh but I took a few minutes to pluck the eyebrow hairs that had dared to resurface. From there, I covered my face with a tinted moisturizer to cover up my slightly uneven skin tone. And very carefully applied the rest of my makeup, using a little more than I would for just a casual day around town.

My hair needed to look really good too. Thank goodness I had recently colored it (myself, of course) and gotten a haircut. All I had to do was take the time to blow it dry and apply the hair care products I usually reserve for Date Night. Actually, I was starting to feel like it was Date Night, except it was 8:00 in the morning and my usual date, my husband, was out of town. And after this morning’s date, I was going to come home and change into my ratty clothes and clean my house. I’m Cinderella.

Now, I had to get dressed. Luckily, I had started thinking about my outfit in the middle of the night when I was having a hard time sleeping. (It happens to me sometimes.) I wanted to wear an outfit that said I am fashionably casual and young, yet age-appropriate. No super short skirts or high-waisted jeans for me. My mom had just bought me some really cute new items from Anthropologie that would be perfect. First though, I put on my best thong underwear and matching bra. From my closet, I picked out a cute pair of lightweight, modern Bermuda shorts, a sleeveless almost sheer top, unbuttoned a little bit, and topped it off with an embroidered but not too matchy belt from Lucky. And instead of my usual flip flops, I put on a pair of gold sandals. I appraised myself in the mirror and thought okay not so bad for 44.

Ready or not, here I come.

I dropped the kids off at school, trying not to get teary and sentimental that it was my daughter’s last day of elementary school. Didn’t want to make my mascara run. Then I continued on downtown to the office for my appointment. I was feeling pretty good about myself and I could have sworn that the valet guys were checking me out. I took the elevator upstairs, signed in and waited for my name to be called.

An assistant came out to lead me back to the exam room. Well, she was really a nurse. And on the way in, I passed by my gynecologist, an attractive older man, who was on the phone in his office. I waved to him and he waved back. I was so happy he got to see me before I took all of my cute clothes off and put on the paper gown, open in the front.

In the room, while I waited and waited, I thought about the absurdity of my morning’s preparation. Why did I find it necessary to put on my Thursday Date Night best, full service shower included, just to take my clothes off and have my annual exam? Was it because I didn’t want to be just another vagina to him? He’s been my doctor for over 10 years. He has seen me at my most vulnerable. Just last year, he lanced my Bartholin abscess (read “Clammed Up” if you are not prone to queasiness). So, these days we’re closer than ever.

He entered the exam room, we chatted for a few minutes and then he got down to business. All went well and he asked me to get dressed and meet him in his office. I put back on my obsessively planned, yet extremely attractive, outfit, paying special attention to tucking my shirt in only part of the way. More natural like that. In his office, we chatted for a few minutes. He lectured me on taking my calcium and extra Vitamin D supplements, inquired about my summer plans, told me all looked great and I left with an extra pep in my step.

I could sit here and analyze all of this. The not-quite obsessive preparation. The desire, I mean the need, to look my best. The fulfilling feeling I had when he told me that I looked great, even though he was probably speaking medically. If I paid $150 to discuss this with a therapist, she and I would most likely come up with some theory about male authority figures, needing approval and wanting to be seen as attractive. Run of the mill kind of stuff.

But wait. If it was a male mental health professional, perhaps a psychiatrist, and I met with him once a week, imagine the outfits I’d get to come up with and the grooming I would have to do! No. Too much. That may make me crazy.