Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Please, mister, can you spare a dime?

Yesterday was the banner day in which we got to go to the orthodontist's office to pick up that new retainer, having an appointment scheduled for the always-bad hour of eight o'clock in the morning.

The rush hour traffic wasn't bad at all on the interstate until I got to my exit, which was so backed up, I thought it was going to take a tanker truck of milk of magnesia to get us all moving. It was slightly frustrating, because I could have thrown a rock and hit the orthodontist's office from where we were sitting. And sitting.


Six traffic lights and ten minutes later, we whizzed into the doctor's parking lot, also ten minutes late. I couldn't decide if I was gratified or crazed that my trip timing was thrown off only by that unexpected wait on the exit ramp. But no harm was done. The office staff was pleasantly welcoming and accepted my check for Meelyn's $150 retainer with graciousness worthy of Queen Elizabeth.

This was also the appointment where Aisling's teeth were to be looked at and her orthodontic needs assessed. Aisling's teeth are different from mine (I wore braces between the ages of 18 and 22 and if you think that wasn't a constant exercise in humiliation, think again) and Meelyn's. Our teeth were all crowded up in our mouths, huddled together like sheep on a windy hilltop. Meelyn got her braces off two years ago and has a beautiful smile worthy of any teen queen. This orthodontist does good work! We also went to high school together, so I feel that we have a bond - a certain understanding - that includes remembering how weird Mr. Abbott, the algebra teacher, was, as well as my editor-of-the-school-newspaper self giving vast amounts of money to him, the former star quarterback. But I'm not bitter about that or anything. Anyway, Aisling's four front teeth are separated by gaps. As she puts it, "My teeth don't want to be friends with each other." She has an adorable Jack-'o-lantern grin beneath her freckled nose and World's Smallest Librarian glasses and she just couldn't be cuter. You'll have to trust me on that.

But what is so irresistably cheek-pinchable on a little girl isn't so great on a young lady. David Letterman has turned his front-tooth gap into a trademark. The 1970s and 80s supermodel, Lauren Hutton, and also the deplorable Madonna, both have teeth gaps that they use as accessories, concealing them with cleverly engineered bridges when they want to flash the Hollywood smile. So gappy teeth are not unheard of, even among celebrities who could presumably afford to have those hideous veneers installed that ruined Elliott Yamin and Hillary Duff and made them both look like very happy horses.

Hillary Duff, the former star of The Disney
Channel's series, Lizzie McGuire, all fitted
out with the biggest set of porcelain veneers
even seen in a human mouth. I wonder if
she eats oats for breakfast?

The orthodontist's assistant broke the news that it will cost a mere $4,882 for Aisling's teeth to be brought together as companions on life's journey - and that's with the $200 sibling discount. $1,280 payable in cash up front next spring.

I drove to our next appointment - optometrist - in another city, my hands white-knuckled on the steering wheel, wondering if I could effect any reasonable facsimile of a beautiful smile with a tub of Bondo and a spackling knife.

At the optometrist's office, we confirmed Meelyn's eye exam appointment for the second week of August and ordered Aisling's new frames, a mere bagatelle at $200.

All this, plus the looming costs of school books for the girls and graduate school classes for me, not to mention all the other thises and thats of life that just. Wear. Me. Out. Somehow, we always come up with the money; it's just that initial inner shrieking that throws me.

So now, I am calmer and I need to know just one thing: How much plasma do you have to sell before you earn $4,882?

1 comment:

Kbg said...

It's just not good for me to laugh this much before 10:00 a.m. It ruins the digestion from the shaking of all this frivolity! You are too funny...milk of magnesia...LOL.