Column Classic: King Tut

By Lisa Scottoline

This column classic this week is in memory of Mother Mary who passed on Palm Sunday several years ago. Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all! Enjoy your families! XOXO

Okay, so my brother has escaped back to Miami, and my mother is still visiting me and my daughter. One afternoon we were all in front of the TV, comatose before the Everybody Loves Raymond marathon, having finished the Law & Order marathon. For the past two weeks, my mother wouldn’t go anywhere else but the kitchen. Driven to distraction, I offhandedly suggested we go see the King Tut exhibit.

“King Tut?” my mother asked, suddenly perking up. Her eyes widened behind her round glasses like an octogenarian Harry Potter. “Let’s go!”

I blinked, astounded.  “But, Ma, it’s In Town.”

“So what?  I love King Tut!”

I didn’t say what I was thinking, which was, More than Telly Savalas?

“Only thing is, he’s not there,” my mother said.

“That’s because he’s dead,” I told her, then ordered the tickets online before she remembered she didn’t like having fun.

The next day, we were at the King Tut exhibit – me, my mother, and my daughter – three generations of Scottoline women, freshly showered and dressed up, giddy to be out of the house. My mother wore her best perfume, smelling great because she stopped smoking a few years ago, when she got throat cancer. She’s in complete remission now, which doesn’t surprise me. It’ll take more than a deadly disease to kill my mother. I’m betting on a meteor.

I picked up our tickets, bought the audio tour, and slipped the headphones over my mother’s hearing aid, then turned on her audiotape, which was narrated by Omar Sharif. She broke into a sly smile and said, “Omar Sharif can park his slippers next to mine anytime.”

“Who’s Omar Sharif?” asked my daughter.

“Doctor Zhivago,” my mother answered.

“Nicky Arnstein,” I added.

Who?” my daughter asked again, and we let it go. I cannot explain Omar Sharif to a generation who has not swooned over him. For Omar Sharif, I would have learned bridge.

But back to the story.

We waited in a line that zigzagged for an hour, which was a lot of standing for my mother, especially after she’d come three blocks from the parking garage. She’d walked only slowly, but she hadn’t complained at all. Her vision is poor from glaucoma and macular degeneration, but she was gamely squinting at the museum map. We entered the exhibit, which began with a short movie about King Tut. In the dark, my mother said to me, “Watch your purse.”

In the first room of the exhibit, we were a field trip of underachievers. We couldn’t pronounce Tutankhamen or figure out his genealogy, and we didn’t know what canopic meant. I kept pressing the wrong numbers on my mother’s gadget for the audio tour, so the tape would play the spiel about liver embalming when she was looking at the mask of Nefertiti.

But we found our stride as the exhibit continued. The lights were low and dramatic; the rooms modeled after the King’s own tomb. I held onto my mother’s elbow as she wobbled along, and my daughter read aloud for her the plaques she couldn’t read herself. We saw lovely calcite jars, so luminous that they glowed. Delicate statues called shabti, glazed a vibrant blue. A gilded chest covered with carved hieroglyphs. The artifacts, all over three thousand years old, had been placed in King Tut’s tomb to keep him company in the afterlife. In the Egyptian culture’s reverence for the dead, I could see its reverence for the living. Looking at the amazing artifacts, holding onto my mother and my daughter, I realized that this moment might never come again. Cancer kills mothers every day, and death comes for all, boy kings and perfumed women.

Then I tried to understand why it took a glimpse of the afterlife to make me appreciate this life. It was an afterlife lesson.

We passed into the last room of the exhibit, which was darker than all the others. I had expected to see the grand finale, King Tut’s famous golden sarcophagus. But where it should have been, instead was a stand the approximate size and shape of a sarcophagus. On it was projected a ghostly photo of King Tut, which morphed from a picture of his mummified remains to a picture of his sarcophagus.

“What’s this?” I asked, mystified. “Where’s King Tut?”

My mother said, “Told you. He’s not here. I read it in the paper.”

That’s what you meant?”


I felt terrible, for my mother. “Sorry about that.”

But she waved me off. “Makes no difference.”

My daughter looked over at me. “Bummed, Mom?”

“No,” I answered, without hesitation.

“Me, neither,” my daughter said with a smile. And we both took my mother by the arm.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline


By Lisa Scottoline

Ladies, listen to me.

Give yourself a break.

Today I’m talking about Ozempic Face.

Some of you know what I’m talking about, and some of you don’t.

I didn’t myself, until five minutes ago.

So now I’m highly qualified to opine.

By the way, what follows is not judgment, but love.

We begin when I read a news story about women putting snails on their faces because snail slime is supposed to beautify your skin.

Wait, what?

The woman in the story was already beautiful, except for the snails on her face.

Meanwhile if I see a snail on the pavement, I put it on the grass.

It never occurred to me to put it on my cheek.

I don’t want slime on my face.

I don’t want slime anywhere near me.

I got the slime out of my life in my divorces.

The next story I read about was buccal surgery, in which women are having the fat removed from their cheeks.

By the way, don’t think this is from fly-by-night doctors. No less than the Cleveland Clinic says on its website that buccal fat removal “can highlight the bone structure in your face, especially your cheekbones and the hollowed-out areas between your cheeks and jawline.”

Because hollowed-out cheeks are supposed to be more beautiful than actual cheeks.

Or, well, cheeks.

Look, I’m not judging if you want to carve your cheeks like a Thanksgiving turkey.

But my cheeks came with my face.

I didn’t have to pay extra.

Like, they’re Included.

And I love Included.

I have Amazon Prime and Audible, and if a book or an audiobook is Included, I click, Gimme.

Included means free.

Free is good.

So I’m keeping my cheeks.

Plus they come in handy.

For example, when I rest my face on my hand.

I want a nice little cushion.

Not a hollowed-out bone.

Maybe that’s just me.

I love cushions.

There’s a reason I needlepoint pillows.

The next story I read was about lip filler, which is something you may have heard of. It’s an injection that you put in your lips to make them look puffy, because full lips are supposed to be more beautiful than thin lips.

By the way, it’s hard to know the rules, isn’t it?

Lips are supposed to be full.

Cheeks are supposed to be empty.

Don’t get it mixed up.

Or you won’t be beautiful.

But the thing about lip filler is that sometimes it leaks out of your lips, so all of a sudden, your face bulges in weird places.

They call this migration.

So you’ll think it’s a social movement rather than facial disfigurement.

If you ask me, the filler is migrating to your hollowed-out cheek.

Because cushions gonna cushion.

But the story that broke the camel’s back for me was about Ozempic Face.

Ozempic is a drug meant to treat Type-2 diabetes.

You may have seen the commercial with the Ozempic jingle.

Oh, oh, oh, it will drive you crazy.

But now women who don’t have diabetes are taking Ozempic because it has the side effect of giving you a gaunt face.

Which is called Ozempic Face.

So if you don’t want to carve your cheeks, you can get a shot.

Now we’re talking!

Finally, someone is thinking about us women!

Ladies, you don’t have to slice your cheeks off!

You can just take a drug meant for somebody else!

Never let it be said that corporations do not have women’s best interests at heart.

Because there are so many companies who make money telling you that you’re not pretty enough.

They spend a fortune to convince you that they’re right.

And they do this to women who are younger and younger.

They want you worried about wrinkles in your thirties.

So you can buy whatever they’re selling for longer and longer.

But they don’t love you the way I love you.

And they’re wrong.

You know who’s right?

Mother Mary.

She always told me, Be yourself.

And look, I get it.

We all want to improve a little, especially as we get older.

I’m trying to lose five pounds.

And I color my hair an unconvincing shade of yellow.

But there are limits.

If you find yourself digging snails out of the garden, you’ve crossed the line.

It’s a slippery slope.

And a slimy line.

So give yourself a break.

Moderation in all things.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Go easy.

It really doesn’t matter what you look like.

Be happy.

And do good for others.

That’s the most beautiful thing of all.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2023