Less than 48 hours before I hosted my first pop up shop last week my front crown just popped off. I was toothless. And it was awful. Here’s a bit of that story…
“It’s just a little metal on metal, calm down,” the dentist barked while drilling in my mouth last Tuesday, as I squirmed in the uncomfortable patient chair, visions of my childhood dancing across the speckled ceiling tiles.
JUST metal on metal? Screw you, man. This is my mouth. And that’s not exactly a phrase someone wants to hear when it comes to any part of their body.
I grumbled and tried to sit still. But in my head, I was talking a lot shit to my dentist at that moment. Like a lot. You want to know who else I was cursing? Four-year-old me for putting me in this position. Because what you have to understand is that nothing about this painful (emergency) dental visit was to new to me. I’d been doing this nasty charade since the early 90s. In and out of dentists at least every other year when my front crown would just decide to pop off, without any warning, and always at the worst time possible. The only thing that had changed was where my feet hit the end of the ugly beige patient chair, and the curse words that ran through my head. (I’d learned a lot of fun new ones since I was four.)
As the drilling sound grew louder and that mysterious burning rubber smell grew stronger, I made myself slip away. Slip away to a time before any of this had happened. When things were more simple, when my bottom teeth were all there, a magical little slice of time known as 1991.
“I’ll take all four pairs,” I said to the store clerk. “The cheetah, the glitter, ballet slippers, and the velvet ones, why not!” I exclaimed triumphantly, “I got paid this week,” I winked at the store girl knowing she’d understand, what with being the two working women we both were.
She tilted her head slightly and just stared at me.
“I haven’t got all day, sweetheart. Let’s go,” I said as I handed her over a fistful of pennies, buttons, and a few sweaty Pez candies.
“There you are, we need to leave!” My mom came around the aisle of the shoe store and I knew that I had been busted, “And I said no new shoes today,”
Damn it, I muttered under my breath. I was so close.
“But I want,” I replied like the mature four year old that I was.
“Taylor, no. Let’s go,” my mom was not budging.
She was testing me, that much was obvious. Well I would pass her test, I decided as I flung myself dramatically onto the floor of Payless Shoe Source- the Jimmy Choo of toddler shoes, if you will.
But in one swift motion my mom scooped me up, stomped me through Herbergers department store, the Nordstrom of Nebraska, if you will, and we were back in her blue Nissan Stanza, headed home.
Well played, I thought to myself as I aggressively sucked on my thumb as if it were a Virginia Slim; knowing all too well that a tantrum headache would be hitting me at any moment.
In the early 90s there were three things that I lived for: 1. candy. 2. Barbies. 3. shoes. I LOVED shoes. All kinds of shoes. White and khaki Keds, purple jelly shoes, spongey flip flops with ribbons, Daffy Duck slippers, they all gave me so much joy. Well, all except those light-up sneakers that came out around 1994. I was not about that light-up life and harshly judged anyone who was.
But where was I? Oh yes, why would my mom deny me such joy? Especially when it was a BOGO week! Why? I couldn’t understand. But I was certain of one thing, she would pay for this.
I was determined to find her prettiest pair of high- heels, a pair that she had NOT yet donated to my dress-up box, and I would wear the shit out of them.
So later that evening after we had all eaten supper, (supper was a term we used in 1991 for “dinner,”) I decided it was time. Time to find my heels. My dad was watching football, my siblings were probably doing some charity work, and my mom was finishing laundry in the basement. As I sat in my toy room analyzing a book about a cookie and a mouse, whilst sipping on a glass of chardonnay, I knew it was now or never.
I made my move for my parents bedroom.
After rooting around in their “cedar closet” for a bit (those were big in the 90s, they kept out the cedar bugs I think) I settled on a beautiful pair of teal heels, with a gorgeous ankle strap. They were pointy and shiny and had regret written all over them. They were so me, it wasn’t even funny.
I slipped my Twinkie like feet into them and felt like a million bucks. So this is what feels like to be a 80s queen I thought to myself as I pranced around my parents water bed. I completed my look with some sassy red lipstick, careful to stay inside the lines of my nose and my chin, and then added just a touch of blush to make my pale skin come alive.
“Damn girl,” I said out loud as I glanced in the bathroom mirror. “You look good.”
I decided right then and there that I couldn’t be mad at my mom anymore. I had to show her how wonderful I looked, it would be selfish to keep this beauty to oneself.
“Mom! Mom! Look mom! Mom! Look! Mom! Mom! Mom look! Mom! Look!” I shouted as I ran for the basement stairs, one sloppy foot in front of the other.
As I made my dash from the bedroom, through the kitchen, and finally to the basement door, I picked up speed. I was (still am) quite quick on my feet. Sturdy, no. But fast, yes.
I’m not sure if my foot hit the top stair first, or my arrogance, but for some reason I didn’t take it as smoothly as I usually did. Like a drunk old starlet, I started to lose my balance as I stepped onto the second stair. Arms flailing, massive toddler head bobbing, things weren’t looking good for me. I tried my best to plant my foot to steady me, but the strappy part of the heel that I once loved suddenly betrayed me, trapping my tiny sausage foot inside.
The last thing I recall was looking at the strap with wide fearful eyes. Why was strap doing this? I loved strap. It was why I had chosen these heels, after all.
And then it was all over.
The world went dark around me as I tumbled down the stairs, one awkward clunk after the other, hitting my chin so hard at the bottom that it knocked my front tooth out.
When I came back to, my mom was there, she was panicked that I had blood all over my face, when in fact it was just her lipstick. But that doesn’t take away from the intensity of the moment. Nor did it take away from the fact that perhaps that color shouldn’t have been worn by myself or my mom, you know, because if it was mistaken for blood… But it didn’t feel appropriate to mention that at the moment, so instead I made a mental note to address it with her later.
Long story short, many tearful hours later, I took comfort in the fact that both of my parents promised me “it was just a baby tooth! It was going to fall out anyway,” and everything would be okay.
Or so we thought.
What we didn’t know back in 1991, is that I had done permanent damage to my roots, my bone even, and I would never be able to grow a normal tooth back again. EVER. That one day, one minute in time, would haunt me for the rest of my life.
I would grow up to be a toothless blogger, who would someday feel compelled to write about the incident, because I can’t let things go?
Or because my mom should have just bought me those shoes? IT WAS BOGO. To think this could have all been spared… Funny how life works like that. You think you’re doing good by not buying your toddler the cheetah print shoes from Payless, but are you? I guess one never really knows…
*If there’s anything positive to be said about that fall, it’s that it knocked my crooked jaw back in place…
I’ve got some Angelica Pickles vibes going on. And also a dog on my cake, naturally.
After- crooked smile is out! toothless smile is in!
Don’t worry, my friend Sarah had a similar accident shortly after this photo was taken and her eyes uncrossed.