STILL LIFE: TEETH IN A GLASS

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Allow me to introduce you to my teeth. I should’ve turned over the bottom dentures to make them look how they appear in my mouth–usually open talking, eating, drinking (not boozing), singing, reading aloud, and at times laughing. I deemed today an “IN” day when I awoke from my restorative 20 minute nap two hours later. At a little after 4PM, motivation vanished to ready myself for the great outdoors (a 15 minute walk to Starbucks). No big deal. I’d gone out five days in a row. Nothing wrong with a day of rest on this religiously traditional day of rest. The Big Guy’s supposedly all powerful and he needed a day off. It’s stories like this that made me agnostic.

Anyhoo, that’s why I was able to take a photo of my teeth in a glass. It’s like going braless at home; seriously, I’m unhooking mine as the door shuts behind me. The luxurious release from a tight undergarment is about as close as I get to a petite mort these years days. Well, it’s the same with my teeth. Well into the 21st century and they’re still not all that comfortable. Bits of food get under them (if you ate with me in public you’d understand why I cover my mouth with a big napkin every few minutes), they scrape my gums, the sides of my mouth. Oh, to have permanent dentures! First thing I’m buying when I win Powerball.

Fortunately it didn’t embarrass me to go without them when “true blue” friends came over. My mom and dad didn’t care if they weren’t in at breakfast. Hell, I’ve had no qualms with the cable guy or maintenance man. My stepmother was another story. I used to be so intimidated by her, morph into something ignorant and small. What a sad revelation (OK, mixed with some A-HA!) to find her the scared, strangely small-minded one, especially when she presented herself as such a liberal, a feminist. She visibly stiffened at my toothlessness, this woman who preferred a facade of normalcy over reality. Well, she’s lived it, hasn’t she?

I read a story about a woman with dentures who’d been married for 20 years. Her husband had never seen her without them ’cause she was too embarrassed. Afraid too, no doubt. She made no mention of his thoughts about this horrible situation. More than horrible. Unsustainable. Heart- and life-breaking. I wanted to know. Know a love existed that didn’t give a shit if she wore her teeth. That showed she was beautiful either way.

Did you see the new issue of Men’s Health?

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Noah Galloway, a double amputee war veteran, made the cover. It could’ve gone either way with him. Give up or fight a daily battle to not only survive, but thrive. I’m no war veteran and I don’t want to be on the cover of a magazine; nor am I diminishing his indomitable strength and spirit. I’m sure he was as beautiful with all four limbs as he remains with two. He has a wonderful girlfriend who knows that. I was with my teeth and remain so without them. I fought a grueling battle with mental illness and lost my marriage, teeth and almost my life. I could’ve gone either way but continue fighting to thrive. I never dreamed I’d own such strength and spirit.

It’s not the same, is it?

Lack of communication is unhealthy.

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