Like a lot of people, my teeth were pushed and pulled with a variety of contraptions during my formative years. It all started innocently enough in 5th grade when I got spacers. Tiny rubber bands were wound between metal brackets that had been twisted around my back teeth. This was the first sign that my preteens were going to be painful and not because of my unflattering haircut and spotty fashion sense; those bands were an agent of torture. Sure, they came in bright, fun colors, but I learned quickly that neon pink things can be used as a torture device too. When my jaw became too sore to snack on Hot Pockets after school as per my usual routine, I knew that shit was getting real.
After that, I wore a headgear, aka the most uncomfortable invention of all time. I had to secure it around my head every night and it felt like an unreasonable punishment for a crime I wasn’t even sure that I had committed. I’d ask my mom if there were laws against inflicting so much pain on a minor and she’d roll her eyes as she shook two orange Advils straight from the bottle into my palm.
Next I got braces, which were probably designed by an evil villain who wanted to put a dent in both the Jujufruits’ and Milk Duds’ candy empire. My mouth looked like a lively game of Monopoly as every available surface was occupied with some kind of bullshit. And it felt like I had all the Monopoly game pieces melted down and welded to my teeth too. After that, I had retainers out the wahzoo; a procession of slimy plastic metal contraptions like the roof of my mouth had hardened and mated with a robot.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m lucky that I had great parents who made dental care a priority. And, I do have a pretty kickass smile now thanks to a bunch of people who all agreed that these painful techniques were a good idea.
But, I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t give me a thrill to see one of my top teeth breaking rank with its compadres. I’ve noticed that it’s beginning to jut out and cross in front of the tooth next to it which is basically an ivory middle finger to the pounds of dental hardware I endured in my youth. Deal with that, world! Nothing can hold it back. My emerging snaggletooth gives my mouth personality, like a rogue bridesmaid that decided to pose with a little more sass in staged wedding photographs. Every party needs that girl just like how my mouth needs a snaggletooth. This wonky tooth is basically jazz hands AND spirit fingers for my mouth. How cool is that?
The more it shifts out of alignment, the happier I get. The little guy is a revolutionary, bucking the oppression of my smile system. If my snaggletooth had a Twitter, it would tweet, “Come on down; I’m bringing pizza and a tent. #occupingannasmouth.” I love my snaggletooth. It’s a tiny white flower growing through the cracks of perfectly laid concrete, asserting itself despite other people’s best efforts to pave it over and I’m freakin’ stoked that it’s here.