I love that having gapped teeth is in vogue right now. When I was growing up everyone had braces and would question my gapped tooth smile asking when I was going to get it fixed.
I can clearly remember, I was 12 years old and talking to my eccentric uncle Edward at a family function when he knelt down and leaned in. Wine perfumed his breath as he shared an anecdote, “I’m gonna tell you something, it’s between you and me”. He looked me intensely in the eye, “gapped tooth people are special, that’s just the way it is, embrace it and don’t let anyone tell you different.” Then he smiled his big, gap toothed smile, gave me a wink, and moved on to mingle with the adults…leaving me glowing with pride…not only did my cool uncle share a secret, but that secret was that he and I had something undeniably special. Edward said so, and I believed him.
Before that day, it had never occurred to me that my teeth were something that was special or a feature that would set me apart in a positive way. A new awareness had been awakened and there was no going back. The next time I went to the dentist there was talk in front of my face but it was certainly over my head…talk of something being done about the gaps. Both my sisters have perfect smiles—without any orthodontia. I was the odd man out.
“Let’s see what develops”, Dr.McKinery said, “she will get more teeth in the back of her mouth and it will push everything together.”…long story short – that never happened.
I plodded along and although I was not self-conscious about my smile, it was likely you would catch me in pictures with pursed lips – not letting my “unique” teeth shine.
And then the day when the walls came crashing down arrived…a full on assault of my gapped tooth smile.
After my senior year in high school I did a work/study program in London that landed me living in a dormitory with 70 other participants. Our fist orientation day you could feel the eyes of all the girls sizing each other up …. Weighing the competition for the attention of a handful of dateable boys.
A love triangle quickly sprung between me, a guy named Lee, and the girl who had a psycho crush on him named Candice. This is how it went…Lee took a liking to me…I thought Lee was a cool guy… Candice thought Lee was the man of her dreams and the daggers came out almost immediately.
Like a scene straight out of mean girls, Candice approached me in the lunchroom with a minion of 3 girls trailing behind her. She leaned her six foot self over my seated 5’2” frame … probably looking a little like the lore of David and Goliath.
She looked me square in the face with fiery eyes, “Why would Lee like you? You have fucked up teeth”. She curled her lips back and took the beautifully manicured nail of her pointer finger and stuck it between her perfectly placed 2 front teeth and held it there for a good 5 seconds before laughing in my face and walking away. For the rest of the 4 months I was there every time her and her gaggle of cronies would see me they would raise their pointers to their mouths, assault my smile, and laugh.
I was so confused by the behavior but the sad thing is I really let it get to me. As I write this I am having a moment, thinking about that 18-year-old girl sitting at the lunch table and I wish I could let her know. 1) Women will do some crazy things when it comes to men 2) Never forget what uncle Edward told you “gapped tooth people are special, that’s just the way it is, embrace it and don’t let anyone tell you different”.
I have been complimented on my smile many times, and some have gone as far as to call it sexy:)…that is a far cry from the comments of days past… and now – not only acceptable, but coveted…and trendy! Guess we do have that special something….
Let’s stop short of magical powers…unless you count a fierce whistle as something from the gods.