And believe me when I tell you, this is not an easy blog to write. I'm going to be talking today about something I hate about myself. I mean really, really hate. An embarrassment. A source of acute loss of self-esteem.
A lifelong curse, pretty much. Or, at least, it feels that way to me.
Here's the truth of it: I have crooked teeth.
They're not hideous, really, though I feel like they are. My friends tell me it's hardly noticeable to them anymore. And if you take a picture of me from the proper side, I could pass for having a good smile.
Walk that camera to the other side, and there it is: my lone snaggly tooth. It sits a bit behind the others, between my top middle teeth and my eyetooth on my right side. Imagine Jewel with her snaggly tooth, only I don't have the great boobs and amazing voice to detract from it. This is why you will almost never see me smile with an open mouth for a picture.
This is why I laugh with my hand over my mouth. Always. Even at home.
This is why when I meet a group of women or hang out with other Moms, I don't talk much and I self-consciously put my hand up to my face a lot.
This is part of why I'm afraid to date. Some guy is going to sit down across from me and wonder how I got to this age, a successful career woman, without ever fixing my hillbilly teeth. I could give you a dozen answers - the orthodonture is expensive, we had other stuff that was more pressing, I had a husband who loved me for who I was and didn't care...
But the truth is, I was afraid to ask if I could do something just for me.
And now he's off with my replacement and I'm getting back "out there" and feeling like I might as well gain a hundred pounds and adopt another fifteen cats to go with these teeth.
If you have naturally straight teeth, or parents who put you in orthodonture in your teens, you don't know what it's like to feel like you're being judged every time you open your mouth. Because people of means, people of a certain "quality", people of money or who had a good middle-class to rich upbringing don't have these teeth. Not in America.
And I get to sit here and decide which is more embarrassing and problematic: dating with a mouthful of white-trash teeth or getting adult braces and wondering if I'm going to snag the guy's lip when I kiss him goodnight. Or if he's looking at me like some kind of freak for having braces at this age.
I know, I know...I should do this for me and nobody else. And I want those straight teeth, Oh, God, you cannot know how I want them. Have always wanted them.
And yes, I know that my snaggly tooth doesn't make me white trash, or any less of a person. But it sure feels that way sometimes.
A lot of the time.
And I'm not alone in that. Check out this article about how bad teeth are just another great way we shame the poor. That article is what started the whole shame cycle for me, and as I lay here feeling it roil around inside, I just had to get it out.
No, I won't post a picture. I still can't bring myself to do it. But suffice it to say, I don't have a movie star smile. And at this age, I don't know that I ever will have now. I just have to hope that my winning personality and outstanding baking skills make up for my lack of both starpower and distracting D-cups.
I just have to hope I can remember to love me, so somebody else can see it's okay to love me.
And maybe, just maybe, I can smile widely and with abandon, free at last.
It just won't be today.