Greg Brady and My Face

Having trouble getting those youngsters to fight the war on cavities?  Need something better than that cute little brochure with the dancing tooth holding his toothbrush?  Or you might need some anti-crack propaganda for your teens. Here it is.

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Yeah, those little bastards are running to brush their teeth and throw out the crackpipes now, aren’t they?

That isn’t even the worse photo.  I took several hoping to best illustrate how awful I looked.  This one though was a bit blurry and I wasn’t as self concious about it.  I spent the whole afternoon with the right side of my face towards the beau, trying to protect him from the image of that special girl he had picked out.  I’m special alright.

I have been in a few years of oral neglect.  My dog who passed away two years ago got all of my attention and monetary allowance throughout his last years.  Everything focused and revolved around keeping that dog comfortable and clean.  This year, I made a New Year’s Resolution that I was going to start looking out for me.  Eye exam and a trip to the dentist.  Lucky me, apparently stress causes tooth decay and I had cavities.  The first round of filling, my face looked pretty darn normal post-visit.  I’m not exactly sure what caused the trainwreck this time.

My new dentist, who I have seen a total of three times now, is very kind and gentle.  Though, a partial thanks to my mother, I cannot remember his real name to save my life.  I can only refer to him as ‘Dr. Greg Brady.’  My mother is not making this up.  He looks just like early twenties Greg Brady.  My inner dialogue from the minute I am called back by the dental assistant is, ‘Don’t call him Greg Brady.  Don’t call him Greg Brady.  Don’t call him Greg Brady.’

For an added bonus, he has hair just like one of my ex’s.  So while he is working away in my mouth, that’s all I can see.  It is hard at times not to reach up, yank that little dark ringlet and hollar, ‘Wha wa ya uc a erk?!  Ya eye’n eatin ona bic.’

If you follow that, you have been an angry woman with dental work.

I remain calm though and listen to the chit chat between him and the assistant.  Occasionally something is funny and I contribute a ‘AHccch’ to the discussion.

And then, my cavity is filled.  This guy is really fast.  They raise my chair.  Greg Brady shakes my hand and I’m out to the lobby.  I thought it was weird this time that the oober friendly assistant did not make eye contact with me on the way out.  Hmm.

The receptionist is busy on the phone, I wave to her and say, “Take your time.”  She nods thankfully, but almost in a frightened way.  I turn around to scan the lobby and a mother shields her child’s eyes.

I text my mother on the way to the car to tell her I’m out of the dentist’s office and swinging by for a visit.  I get in and start my car.  “Dammit, my gas light is on.”  I put my car in reverse, looked in my rearview mirror and screamed.  Dear God!  What the hell had happened to my face?  It did not look like it was hit with a ton of gravity last time!  What about if it doesn’t go away?  What about if it is FOREVER?  I begin to massage it desperately.  Wake up you damn face!  Wake up!

I drive nervously to my mother’s, passing three gas stations along the way.  There is no way I’m getting out of this car with my face sloughing off.

I wrap my scarf around my face and proceed into my mother’s house.  She’s looking at her laptop.  I sit across the table from her.  She looks around the screen and starts laughing.  “It can’t be that bad, Mel.”  I unravel the scarf.  “You look fine.”  More laughter.

My little brother, who apparently is old enough to start shaving now, enters the kitchen.

“Mel, do you see anything different about me?”

“Can you give me a clue?”

“Do you see anything different about my upper lip?”

“I don’t know, Edward.  Do you see anything different about my upper lip?”

My mother snickers.

My step-father walks through the backdoor.  “Hey, look!  Mel’s had a stroke!”

To change the subject, my mother runs off to the other room to grab the coat she picked up for me when she was shopping at Kohls.  “If you don’t like it, I can take it back.”

“Oh no, I love it!  It’s nice.”  I smile, then reach up with my pointer finger to correctly position my left upper lip.  “Does that help?  Do I look equally happy on both sides of my face now?  Can I give you a check?  There was no way I was stopping at the bank with this face to get cash.”

“That’s fine.  Coffee?”

“Yes.  I’m going to pee first.  I don’t want any confusion on why my lap is warm and wet.”

I return to the kitchen table and start my coffee.  My mother hands me a napkin.  “You might need that.”

“Dear God, what is the beau going to say when he sees my face? This is the face you have chosen, sir.”

“I’m sure he won’t notice.”

“If he doesn’t notice then I’m going to start worrying what my normal face really looks like.”

“Just keep a neutral face.”

I practice what I believe is a neatral face as the giggles return.  Maybe I’ll just keep the scarf wrapped around my head.

I leave after I finish my coffee.  I stop at one of the closer gas stations on my travel home.  I glance around the gas pumps to verify that no one around will recognize me.  We all know that the moment you look like shit a class reunion suddenly will form like a flashmob.  “Oh, look!  There’s Melanie Moore!  Wasn’t she voted most likely to look ridiculous?”

I swipe my card at the pump and I see the notice that says that the gas is five cents cheaper if you use cash or debit.  I quickly press the pump’s debit button and a siren goes off.  Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic.  The pump starts yelling at me, ‘NO DEBIT AT THE PUMP!’  Now, does my inner cheap girl win and I go inside looking like I had been in a terrible accident… or do I pay an estimated dollar seventy more to keep my temporary disfigurement a secret.  Decisions, decisions.

I run the card as a credit, pump my damn gas and get the hell home.

Sometimes, your dignity is worth paying a little more.

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