it all started in 1974. i was 14, and i was babysitting the DiCarlo kids, 4 boys, Germano, Mario, Enrico, and Alonso, while their parents were away for the day. i remember the list that Mom gave me, to keep her ruffians occupied. the list went as so: 10 am -10:15, water the plants at the door. 10:15-10:25, read the Watchtower. 10:25- 10:45, take out the garbage. and so on. by mid morning we were way behind, and i felt slightly panicked and just a bit overwhelmed at trying to reign in these 'wild horses' -- they were only slightly younger than me, and since i was in a family of 4 girls, all these boys were a totally different lunacy.
in my relief, the parents came home, and had brought their boys some of those balsa wood airplanes. as i waited for my stepmom to pick me up, we all started flying the balsa wood airplanes, off of a steep embankment near their house. i believe it was my first toss that landed the balsa airplane of Mario's into the top branches of an immense oak tree. Mario, got incredibly upset that i had, with my first toss, tangled his plane up in the tree and out of reach. i felt immediately guilty, and started climbing the tree to retrieve it. Mario started throwing fist sized rocks at the plane, in the hopes of hitting it and knocking it out of the tree. i had just heard Germano his older brother warn Mario to stop throwing rocks, as he might hit me, when a fist sized rock, on it's downward fall, slammed into my face right at the mouth. the force of it almost knocked me out of the tree. my two front teeth were pulverized, and yet hanging on by thin gum tissue. t he sensation i remember is that i wanted to reach up and pull my teeth out, as they felt gritty and in pieces and i assumed they were already completely gone. frightened by what my face looked like, Germano coaxed me down out of the tree, shouting to me to not pass out, as i was barely coherent and blood was pouring out of my mouth.
for the next 39 years, there have been varying repairs, veneers, surgeries, dentists, and specialists, chiropractors, and oral surgeons dealing with the fact that the two front teeth of mine are basically shattered, and 'dead' (nerves were killed) tho they were still in their rightful place at the front of my mouth. battered, but presentable. in fact downright good looking still. so much so, that in my OKCupid Profile that i have now, says that the first thing you'll notice on me, is that i have 'choppers' for teeth. been told that by many a boyfriend who admired my big if not completely white-pearly whites.
well, today that changed. i was having lunch at my fav place and bit into a sandwich. felt a small snap and then a very large hole at the front of my mouth. after 39 years of hanging in there, my tooth gave up the ghost. in shock i spit out the tooth that had snapped off at the root, one of my front teeth. there was no pain, as the nerve was long gone 39 years ago. there it was, looking all pearly white, as it was one that had a veneer over it to give it that perfect pearly look.
in the following minutes, i was in shock. tears. embarrassment. shame. funny how a little tiny piece of enamel and bone can mean so much to you. and your identity. who are you if you don't have your teeth?
called a friend immediately and called my dentist next. had put the tooth somewhere in my car, and then couldn't find it, spent some minutes desperately searching for it, for no reason whatsoever, i just wanted to have it. finally found it, and stuck it back into the spot. still looked perfect tho it wouldn't stay put.
went ahead with my plans for the day and went into a nursery to buy a plant. found that you could see i had no tooth when i talked. kept my mouth closed and when a man asked if i was finding everything i gave a short laugh, with my hand over my mouth. i had just found my tooth in the glove compartment.
had to call an impending drink date off of said OkCupid, he understood he said, as his father was a dentist. he said he wouldn't mind meeting me anyway, and i lisped that i needed to respectfully decline.
as the minutes passed, shock receded and my adult self stepped forward and started bringing the humor into the situation. what-did you think your body parts were going to last forever? thought that i would have to change my OKCupid profile-the first thing you will notice about me is my snaggle-tooth smile. i would probably get even a few more dates just because of the novelty of it.
the other 'dead' tooth next to it felt super exposed and very vulnerable. wondering if it's deciding to jump ship too. thought to myself, well this is going to be great for your diet, you're too afraid to bite into anything... and flossing is going to be a breeze.
my tongue and bottom lip will not stop exploring the enormous space that was once a tooth. it feels 4 feet across. i look in the mirror and find that i can rest my whole bottom lip sideways in the gap that is now my first impression.
musing on how fast i have recovered such a catastrophe. over such a small piece of me. who am i, without this front tooth? was i grateful enough for the many many times i used it to bite something, in 39 years? had i taken it for granted? was i getting old?
the answers are giving me something to muse about for a long long time.