Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Stella has recently acquired suckage—as in sucking that appendage that is neither finger nor digit. This is somewhat of a welcome habit. The reason being that it renders me somewhat useless at naptime. She is now capable of sucking herself to sleep with that sleek little tool.

Seeing her suck her thumb is equal parts cute and disappointing. I sucked my thumb. I was intimate with my thumb for years. The consequence being that I had intense orthodontia as a young child. I wore braces on and off from third grade until tenth grade. I also had two jaw surgeries to correct my horrendous under bite. Looking at pictures of myself from before my surgery is a humble undertaking. My Jaw—my Siamese twin--looms large and is the first thing that I notice. Of course, I am keenly aware of it and the pain that it caused—I’m talking literal pain here. I never endured teasing over The Jaw.

My surgery required that my jaw be wired shut for at least four weeks. The other important thing to know about this time in my life is how incredibly tall I was. I had the surgery at fourteen years old. I was at least 5‘11” tall and maybe 150 pounds—wiry to say the least. Now add to that a four-week refrain from solids and you get one skinny little teen. I lost about ten pounds while my parents lost about ten grand. The only “fatty” part of me was my swollen cheeks. I remember trying to squeeze bits of meat through gaps in my teeth to no avail.

I looked forward to the day they clipped those wires. I imagined myself going to a restaurant and ordering a huge cheeseburger. What they fail to tell you beforehand is that you have to regain, um chewing capacity? I don’t know what you’d call it. But the first time you can open your mouth it feels like it’s extended to its breaking point, but really it’s only opened up about half an inch. This does not make for burger friendly eating. So, you continue with a similar, mostly-liquid diet. Add in the occasional piece of toast or boiled chicken and you’re on your way to gaining back those ten pounds that were lost.

The irony is that after all the money spent, my mother ended up marrying an oral surgeon and I married a guy with perfectly straight teeth who never had braces. This means that Stella’s dental future is basically a crapshoot.

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