@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
When my parents were selling our childhood home, Mom was clearing out all the things. And I mean all the things. I had already moved out to my apartment in Astoria, though I frequented the mother ship and often stole toilet paper and paper towels during visits. One day when I stopped by my mom handed me a little yellow envelope.
“Here,” she said.
“What is it?”
“It’s your teeth.”
It was. It was my teeth. My baby teeth. That Mom had saved. The real tooth fairy.
“What the hell am I supposed to do with my baby teeth?”
“I don’t know. I thought maybe you’d want them?”
“Yeah, let me string them into a necklace and give them to my future boyfriend. I’m sure he’ll love it.”
My baby teeth are now where they belong, in a landfill somewhere with other garbage. I’m unsure why my mom had even saved them, but I guess it’s not that uncommon for parents to save their kids teeth, even though when you really think about it it’s pretty creepy.
Being late bloomers, my siblings and I all end up having baby teeth pulled out by our dentist. I didn’t even lose all my baby teeth by the time I was in middle school, which means I missed out on some sweet, sweet tooth fairy money because I was too old– I knew she wasn’t real any more. Mom still rewarded us though, usually with milkshakes which is how I preferred my rewards anyway.
I recall a time when I was given anesthetic to have multiple teeth removed. Which is kind of a crazy thing to remember, since it’s actually supposed to make you forget. I was scared because I feared the anesthesia would make my body unable to move or talk but I would still feel the pain of them yanking my teeth out and I wouldn’t be able to yell out. A strange thing for a little kid to fear. I must have seen it on television.
The dentist asked me what television shows I liked. “Scooby Doo,” I said.
“Well, just think about Scooby Doo,” I was told as the rubber mask was placed over my face. And I faded into The Mystery Machine.
When I came to, I didn’t feel any pain but my mouth was filled with gauze and I was confused. Vision blurred, where is my mom? I pulled the gauze out of my mouth. The texture didn’t feel right. They kept putting the gauze back in my mouth. There was crimson blood on it and then I started to remember where I was. Mom took me into the car, and that was that. We went to get a milkshake.
Now, at 31, I have a wisdom tooth growing in. It’s no surprise to me it is coming in during my third decade of existence. Since I finished growing only six years ago. The back of my mouth felt sore and I wasn’t sure what was up until I reached a finger back there. Much to my surprise there was something hard protruding from my gum on the left side of my mouth into my cheek. Something hard. Not something hard. A bone. No wait… a tooth! A wisdom tooth.
Now I remember why babies cry when their teeth grow it. It hurts. Additionally, it’s growing in weird so it’s sharp against my cheek.
My adult teeth all grew in wonky and I had braces for I think a couple years. I hated braces. They were uncomfortable and didn’t look good in pictures. But I fantasied about having a straight smile. Not too many things stop me in my tracks about a person’s physical attributes quite like a smile. I’m not much of a complimentary person. Both bad at giving and receiving compliments. But I have had a tendency to point out to strangers when they have great teeth. “Pardon me, I don’t mean to be weird but you have great teeth.”
In retrospect, I think our orthodontist was a bit of a quack. I don’t think he did the best at fixing our teeth. I hated him. Because I once asked when I would get my braces off and he told me “when you no longer look like a rabbit.” Why an adult male would say this to a middle school girl is completely baffling to me.
“I hate him,” I told my mom on that trip home in the car. “I hate him. He said I look like a rabbit.”
“Well,” mom said, “you look like a really cute rabbit.”
Gee, thanks mom.
Much to my parents lament, I didn’t wear my retainers much after my braces came off. I hated them. I couldn’t sleep with them in. My bottom teeth got crooked, and one day when I have extra money, I’ll fix them. However, whenever I have extra money I’m up late at night looking up surf trips.
Without seeming like a braggart, my smile has driven people to compliment. Sure, this may cause me to avert eye contact, but like anyone, it’s a welcomed praise. And so, I could handle the discomfort of my upper left wisdom tooth growing in, as it digs into the inside of my cheek, but I fear it’s going to fuck up my teeth. So it needs to go. It’s got to get out of there.
Just the other night, I lay in bed and my mouth tastes slightly like blood. I reach my finger to the back of my mouth and it feels like a little pebble stuck in my gum. The tissue around it is sensitive. And I think, it has to go. It has to go before it ruins my smile.