As I was growing up, my father had a few mantras that he would repeat often. Here are a few of them:
1. Clean the damn kitchen!
2. Stop hitting your brother!
3. Turn that music down!
4. Turn that television off!
5. Don't you DARE talk back to me!
6. Don't talk back to your mother!
7. Get out of bed!
8. The church makes it impossible to miss, they have mass EVERY SINGLE DAY and 5 times on Sunday!, you have NO excuse not to go!
9. Saturday mornings are for pulling weeds, here's your bag, now fill it up!
10. Is your homework done?
Now, those are just the first 10 that come to mind. I remember others as well but there is one mantra that I remember above ALL else and that was the ever popular, BRUSH YOUR TEETH!
My parents were your ordinary suburban parents and they did things that most parents in our town did, they took us to the dentist every 6 months. When I became a young teenager, I developed fangs. Now, you can brush those suckers all day long but it doesn't change the fact that they are fangs, does it? Of course, my folks weren't aware that vampires would become as popular as they have become today so they ruined my chances of being a vampire by having braces put on my teeth. By the time I graduated high school, I had a beautiful smile. It didn't mean much to me at the time, but as I grew older and people complimented me on my smile, I quietly thanked my parents for forcing me into that chamber of torture they called an orthodontist's office.
As the years passed, I developed one stupid problem after another that pretty much trashed my perfect smile. Here is a partial list of those problems:
1. I grind my teeth in my sleep.
2. I had trigeminal neuralgia and before it was diagnosed, I had many teeth pulled from the back of my mouth.
3. I had cancer of the parathyroid gland...the illness AND the treatment each did their own share of damage to my smile.
4. I married a man who couldn't afford the co-payments for dental care.
5. That man left me whilst I was sick and took his dental insurance with him.
Mix all of that together and you end up in my position...I have switched to a closed mouth smile and I practice talking in the mirror so I know how much I can say without allowing my "smile" to be seen. Before my stroke, when I could still work, I paid for my own dental care. I bought a partial to wear on the top so that I could smile without embarrassment. That sucker lasted for quite a while before IT actually lost a tooth! I didn't even know that was an option.
All of life's dental issues have brought me to today...a time when dental care has gone from simply keeping the mouth healthy to making the mouth look all kinds of crazy white and keeping them full of those pearly whites. I have brought my defective smile into the new millennium just when dentists are charging tens of thousands of dollars so that one can look like a member of the Osmond family should one choose.
Most of the time I don't worry about my smile, I simply stay home and avoid mirrors. But, since I am not yet dead (DUM SPIRO SPERO!), I do occasionally like to venture outside the virtual anonymity that my home offers. Last night was one of those nights.
Naturally, I did all of the mandatory primping, I bathed, put on make-up, shaved my legs and pits (NO...I still haven't shaved anything else and I REFUSE to do so!) and I fixed my hair. I recently cut over a foot of hair off of my head so now I'm left with a cute little bob that I can easily care for. Then, I opened the front door and went out for the evening.
It doesn't matter how much primping one does, a crack in your front tooth and a missing eye tooth will render moot all the other primping one may do. So, I enjoyed my evening with a closed mouth smile.
I've been so worried about trying to obtain dental care that I pretty much closed my eyes to other options. Now, I read a LOT about Tudor history and I defy you to ask me a question that I can't answer...from how Henry the Seventh obtained the crown to what is inscribed on the tomb of Elizabeth the 1rst. One interesting little tidbit that I've learned is that, back in the day, sugar was bought at such a dear price that only the well to do could afford it. And, sugar being a bad thing for your teeth, it seems that the upper classes of Tudor England had hideous teeth. Not that the lower classes had great teeth, but only the wealthy could afford the diet that actually encouraged
tooth decay. That pretty much placed bad teeth on a list of status symbols. Odd...yes. And just my luck to be born hundreds of years after this dentally carefree time.
Last night, as I was enjoying the people around me, it suddenly occurred to me that by hiding my imperfect smile, I was doing myself a disservice. If you can't afford dental care, there isn't really anything you can do. I understand that George Washington carved his teeth out of a tree, but even if I were in a mood to whittle me some dentures, I'm not sure how to get them to look as good as Donny Osmond's teeth. I suspect that homemade teeth are not the answer to my particular problem.
So, after a long time trying to figure out a way to bring my teeth into the 21rst century, I've decided that I've been going about it all wrong.
I should have taken a tip from the British royal family...I should take my bad smile and run with it. It seems as though it would be easier to change the world around me than it would be to afford a dentist.
So, if you took tetracycline as a child and have been left with grey teeth, if your parents never stressed the importance of oral hygiene, if you, like me, can't seem to afford Osmond teeth or if you're simply a member of my ex-husband's family, think about this...we could start a new fad a la Queen Elizabeth the 1rst.
I hereby declare imperfect smiles sexually desirable and socially valuable.