Picking Up a Stranger

Oh, I need to write this down before I forget it happened … like next week.

Kevin and I went to lunch yesterday. Actually, we go to lunch every Wednesday … that’s not what I wanted to remember.

Though it’s nice to know I wrote that little tidbit down because years from now, when we’re old and sitting in our rockers and yelling at each other to be heard Kevin will say,

“Remember when we used to go to lunch together every Wednesday?”

And I’ll say, “Huh?”

And he’ll repeat his question, only a few octaves louder and I’ll cup my ear and yell, “WHAT?”

And then he’ll scream it a few more times and I’ll be all like, “Honey, we’ve been married for 50 plus years and even though I know what you’re thinking most of the time, I still haven’t mastered the art of reading lips so, SPEAK UP!”

But anyway …

We were leaving McAllister’s Deli (by the way, have you had their panini’s?! WOW. Good stuff) and we were in the parking lot, in my car, when we see this woman zig-zagging her way through the parked cars. We didn’t think anything of it and I kept right on talking.

Kevin stops me and nods toward my window.

“Uh, I think that lady wants to speak to you.”

I whip my head around and this nice-looking (as in nice, not as in gorgeous), is standing right outside my door giving me a hopeful and friendly smile.

I roll my window down and give her a questioning smile.

“Hi. I hate to bother you. But I was wondering if you could give me a ride to my house. I only live four blocks from here and I have an abscess on my foot and it’s killing me to walk on it.”


“Are you going to kill us?”

Was my first thought, but of course, I didn’t say that out loud.

Actually, my exact words were, “Oh, briwqutgcl bitlaiudf/?”

Yeah, I have no idea what that was supposed to be, either. I was shocked. I wasn’t sure what to do. I mean, the whole dangers of picking up strange people spiel ran through my head and yet, she really did look like she was in pain.

Or she was a very good actress.

I looked at Kevin. He looked at me. I looked back at the woman, gave her a hesitant smile and then looked back at Kevin while mouthing the words, “Should we?”

He nodded and I took a breath before pushing out the words, “Sure. Absolutely. Hop in.”

And then she shot me in the head and my spirit came back to life and now you’re reading the words of a ghost.

Not really. I unlocked the doors to my car and waited for her to climb into the back seat.

I took off and she started in with the sweetness.

“Oh. Thank you both so much. You looked like such a nice couple and I really need to get home. I’m sure glad I wasn’t walking my dog, I’m not sure what I would have done!”

And I’m thinking, “I’m not sure what you would have done, either.” Because let’s be honest, you know my feelings about dogs and in my car?! Ugh.

Okay, fine. I’m lying. I would totally give her and her dog a lift home.

We all awkwardly laughed and she gave me instructions to her house. Which really was only four blocks from the restaurant.

So, I pulled over, she got out and that was the end of the story.

Sort of anti-climatic, wasn’t it.

But my question to you is: would YOU have done the same thing?


Finally, After Three Years, the Braces Come Off

And really, the title says it all.

It all began in August, 2006. I took Dude in to start phase two of the teeth straightening process.

Phase one began when he was in third grade. Dude had a narrow mouth — in essence, he had too many teeth for his mouth.

Or as I used to say, he had a head full of teeth. 😀

Because he didn’t have room for all of his teeth, they were coming in at strange angles and overcrowding one another.

So, I took him in when he was about nine, and they put him in braces. In addition to the braces, they also put in some sort of palate contraption that I had to stick a metal rod into and crank three times a day for two weeks. This stretched out his palate and made room for all of his teeth.

It was not fun, and it was painful for Dude. But it was either that, or pull teeth and I didn’t want to pull teeth — he needed those teeth, we just needed to make ROOM for those teeth.

They took the braces off after one year and said to come back in to start phase two after all of his baby teeth had fallen out.

So, shortly before he turned 13, I took him back in and they put braces on him again and we started the actual straightening of his teeth.

The Beginning of Braces - 2006

It’s been a looooong three years. He hasn’t been able to eat anything chewy (like taffy, Starbursts, caramel, etc), or to bite into anything, like an apple or corn on the cob. And he’s had to endure food in his teeth and cut gums.

And let’s not forget about the adjustments and the pain that went with those.

In essence, the kid has been through A LOT these past three years.

But even though we hated putting him through all of that, we knew it was necessary. We felt it was our duty, as his parents, to arm him with yet another arsenal to succeed in life.

Because let’s face it, if you have bad teeth, you are:

A. Self-conscious

B. Less likely to be hired (because if you look at it from a business perspective — who wants a person with bad teeth representing their company?)

C. Less likely to find a mate (who wants to kiss someone with bad teeth?)

D. More likely to take care of your teeth later in life if you’ve been raised to take care of them to begin with.

We are a family of bad teeth.

My husband’s family has had problems with their teeth. I can’t even tell you the number of times, or the amount of money, we’ve spent on Kevin’s teeth. Kevin’s father was so embarrassed of his bad teeth that he finally had them all pulled and now wears false teeth. His mother has had all sorts of cosmetic work done on her teeth because she too felt self-conscious.

Jazz had a funky cone tooth, growing right between his two upper teeth, and had to have it cut out when he was three. (That cone tooth was hereditary and ran in my husband’s family).

I have a teenage niece who has two teeth that STILL haven’t grown in because her gums are so thick that the teeth can’t break through them. This same niece also had a bottom tooth grow in sideways and had to have oral surgery to have it removed.

Two of my sister’s baby teeth had fused together into one tooth and she had to have it pulled out.

I’ve had two eye teeth that came out TWICE, EACH. I also have a small mouth (HA! I know what you’re thinking, hush), and one of my bottom teeth has come in behind my other teeth, but over the years, I’ve used my tongue to push it back into place which caused my lower eye tooth to turn sideways to make room.

When I was pregnant with Dude, I didn’t consume enough calcium and the little stinker started taking what he needed from me, which weakened a molar and caused it to break in half. This happened while I was pregnant, so I couldn’t really do anything about it at the time, and by the time I remembered, it rotted and I had to have a root canal.

So yes, we’ve had our fair share of teeth problems. And yes, it was bound to be passed onto our sons.

And today, after enduring so many years of pain, discomfort and inconvenience, Dude FINALLY had his braces removed.

His appointment was for 8:00 a.m. I woke him up at 6:30 so he would have plenty of time to eat breakfast and shower before we had to leave.

We got ready and I took a picture shortly before we left.

Before Braces Came Off
(Note the expectation on his face).

We arrived at the office, he checked in and they called him back right away (in fact, they were waiting on us to arrive).

For an hour and a half, I sat, read and fretted. I remembered back when I had sat in that same waiting room and waited for Dude to have his braces put on. I remembered his glassy, and somewhat pained expression, as he came out with a mouth full of hardware to meet me. I remember that first day and the pain he endured as his mouth got used to his braces.

And my heart bled. And I began to wonder if we had made the right decision, putting him through all of that.

But when they were finally done and he came out smiling from ear to ear showing off his perfect teeth, I knew we had done the right thing.

The whole dentist office stopped what they were doing, lined up in the hallway, turned up the muzak and clapped when he came out.

I had tears in my eyes (because I’m just emotional like that).

His doctor shook his hand …

At Dr. Bauer's Office

and they gave him a parting gift: a card and a cup wrapped in colored cellophane.

The background of the card was popcorn (another food that is a no-no if you wear braces) and said something about how nice it was to be able to eat the foods he wanted to now. And they also put a movie ticket into the card, too.

I thought that was so nice!

When he tore off the cellophane and saw that they had stuffed a cup full of candy in it, we all just burst out laughing. How ironic that his DENTIST gives him candy!

We thought it was hilarious.

Dude did say that there were a few moments, when they were removing the braces, that he panicked. Because the glue is so strong, they had to use pliers to yank it off his teeth. He said it would pop and he felt like they had broken his tooth. But it was all good and was merely part of the procedure.

So, the journey is over and Dude now has a mouth full of straight, pretty teeth.

After Braces Came off
(Note the easy, relaxed grin).

They did put a permanent retainer on his bottom teeth. It looks like this, only not quite as long. This will ensure that his teeth don’t shift out of alignment in the future.

I also have to take him back on Monday to pick up his upper retainer. He’ll wear that one at night to keep his upper teeth from shifting around.

Dude is also going in to have his teeth cleaned on Monday, too. Wouldn’t it SUCK if after all of that, he had a cavity?

That’s not even funny to talk about.

So. We’re done. Well, Dude is done. He can finally move past this teeth issue.

Now I can concentrate on Jazz. His consultation meeting is in September.

Our teeth saga is not quite over yet ….

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