“Bless me father for I have sinned, it’s been eighteen months since my last check up and cleaning…”
I have a new periodontist. He’s a handsome young Kentuckian who could be my host Joe’s younger brother. Through his gloved fingers I guiltily explain my neglected teeth by telling him about my year of backpacking. He says kindly he can tell that I flossed in Laos.
Then he says, “You know, we could really fix you up. Have you ever considered orthodontistry?”
I explain that I already had six years of government orthodontistry as a child in Ireland. He peers in again, shakes his head and says, “Socialized medicine”.
I see his point. My top and bottom teeth don’t share a zip code. The bottom set is crooked. Two front teeth are caps from faceplant off my bike fifteen years ago, so I can’t do a blinding bleach job like Sarah Michelle Gellar. But I’ve developed a compensating pout that lets me close my mouth over the overbite, and by normal standards I’m not disfigured.
“It’s because you’re Irish. Small jaw, big teeth. Things would be so much better if the Brits were simply born without premolars.” I mumble politely, because that’s what we Brits do. Then I ask what he’d suggest. A eugenicist’s glint appears in his eye.
“First we’d take out the rest of your wisdom teeth. Then we’d do some tissue rollback on the recession right here. Then we’d get some braces to get your teeth into the right spot. Finally we’d do an operation where we’d break your jaw and add an implant to bring it forward. You’d lose that dent right below your bottom lip. You’d have a great strong jawline. Totally change your profile.”
“Totally change my profile.”
“Yeah. And you’d see it from the front, too.”
“I’d look completely different.”
“I think it would be a great look.”
“I’d look like Katie Couric.”
He thinks about this, doubtfully. Then he agrees.
I see a future in which I have a firm, jutting American jaw. A jaw that would bust through the doors of corporate success, a jaw that could pitch for the Yankees or cheer for the Lakers. A jaw like Courtney Thorne-Smith.
I ask him if there’s any medical reason for me to spend ten thousand dollars have my jaw broken and extended. Not really, he admits.
Sometimes I forget what a creepy country America is.