Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Dugie's Teeth"

by Lucy Snyder

I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and reached far -- for the snooze button. I touched down to lay flat on the bed and stretched every muscle. I opened up my eyes really wide, smiled big and moved my eyebrows up and down. Finally I had the energy to swing my legs over the side of the bed and stand up.

I walked to the bathroom, examined my tired face in the mirror, and filled the sink up with cold water. I opened the cabinet door, grabbed the face wash, and squeezed the soap-smelling solution into my hand. Then, as I was applying the stuff to my face, I remembered something. I remembered yesterday afternoon.

I was lying in that uncomfortable chain covered in uncomfortable plastic. The air conditioner was blasting in an uncomfortable way. The way they kept my mouth propped open with pieces of plastic was so uncomfortable. But it was all worth it because I was going to look so good.

It had been about 16 hours since they finished. I slowly washed the scrub off my face, keeping myself in suspense. It was a Friday morning and I hadn't checked the clock. I assume I was running late. I put the tube back into the cabinet and pulled out my same old Crest "Vivid White" toothpaste --

-- that toothpaste with false claims. I had been using that toothpaste ever since that day five years ago that I had realized that my brushing habits had left my teeth a great amazing yellow color under my braces. I would look in the mirror and smile every night before I stuck the toothbrush in my mouth and think horrible things. My yellow teeth were disgusting, unattractive, horrible, gross, unattractive and repulsive.

No one said one word to me about them but I knew what they thought in their heads. At every checkup, Dr. Moskowitz would say, "These teeth are beautiful! Beautiful, Dugie!" But they weren't. Five years of whitening toothpaste and nothing was different. Until today.

I looked at that clean face in the mirror and smiled at it. My lips were still touching and my heart was beating fast. I looked down into the sink. I smiled more, more, so that my teeth could meet the air. Breathing faster and faster and faster. I looked up and I was beautiful.

I had almost expected one of those trite moments from cartoons when a rock star smiles and the audience is blinded. But no, this was much different. I was no sleazy long-haired celebrity who only wanted fame and fortune. I had a pretty face and I was a nice girl. But now I was someone new. When I parted those lips, I didn't just have a new confidence, I had the confidence of someone else. I didn't look different. I looked amazing.

I wasn't going to eat breakfast so I put the toothbrush away. I put on one of my favorite outfits and complementary makeup. I could not wait to get to school. I hated school. My best friends weren't from school; they were from the neighborhood. I did have many acquaintances at school and these were the people I guess I wanted to see. I just wanted to see people. I just wanted people to see me. "The new me."