Friday, April 11, 2008

Iron maiden

I just got braces on my teeth so I am hoping that slows my life down. With braces, every little thing you do every day becomes more important and more significant. You eat more slowly, because you have to chew carefully, if you can chew at all, which is a big if. In the morning, waking up, the braces are the first thing you think about. It feels as if your mouth is in a cage.

And brushing your teeth? I have officially moved into the bathroom. I have a radio in there and everything. Now I have to figure out how to make the bathroom habitable. About a year ago Larry Solomon, the friend of my husband's who helps me clean the house from time to time, stripped the wallpaper off the bathroom without telling me. I had mentioned it was getting raggedy, and then I came home one night when he had been there, and it was gone. I was halfway through washing my face before I noticed. Then I stood there going, "Uh...."

So now here I am every day, with my Water Pik (I actually like the generic term, which is something like "electric water irrigator"), splashing around in this bombed-out-looking bathroom. And with a Water Pik you do splash. You think the thing's out of water so you take it out of your mouth and suddenly it's as if you're holding a garden hose. What's really funny is the thing has a warning, "Do not handle with wet hands." Hahahahahaha! Water, water everywhere!

I think about my braces a lot because my mouth is always reminding me they are there. Why is it the technology has not changed since I was a kid? This appliance I have (they call it an "appliance," another term I love) looks just like out of one of those Dave Berg cartoons in Mad magazine. Heck, they can correct near-sightedness now with laser surgery. You would think they would be able to beam a couple of lights into my mouth and bingo, teeth fixed. Then there is the question of orthodontic wax. A postage-stamp-sized, one-eighth-inch thick square of it -- just this ordinary soft wax -- costs $3.79! What in the world? Why can't I just melt down white crayons or birthday candles and use that? I'm tempted to try it.

But there is one great thing about getting braces. You can't bite your nails. You just can't. Case closed. A lifetime nail biter, I now have beautiful hands for just about the first time in my life. I got new pink nail polish to celebrate. Plus, you can't eat. My ortho says, "Everyone loses weight."

With that in mind, I have to see beyond the watery bathroom mirror. Besides, I am in good company. The other day I was on the phone with JoAnn Falletta, the conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic. She has braces! I couldn't get over it! "JoAnn, you're kidding!!" I said. Neither of us could not get the stylish, invisible Invisilign -- those plastic braces you supposedly can't see -- so we are both running around with mouths full of metal. So are other people we know. One of them is a co-worker of mine, and she said something that keeps me smiling (even though it sometimes hurts to smile). "Just think," she said, "when this is all over, we're going to look like supermodels."

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