Smile, You’re Not on Candid Camera

I notice people’s teeth.  Always.

I guess it must be the curse of being an ex-dental hygienist.

Most of the time it’s a pleasant preoccupation. After twenty years of peering and poking about in untold hundreds of mouths, I find I do appreciate a nice set of choppers, whether they belong to a man or a woman.

Then there is the stuff of nightmares.

The other day I was at Walmart (where else?) to return a top I’d bought the day before. I hadn’t bothered trying it on because I thought I knew that particular brand well enough to just grab the size I’d always purchased before.  You’d think clothing sizes will be predictable enough to make that leap of faith, but no….and it always cheeses me off when I make that mistake.

There already were two people at the customer service desk and another woman standing pretty far back out toward the main aisle, but I knew she must be in line so I stood just behind her.

With only one customer service gal working slowly and methodically, it was obviously going to take a while.  I stood there patiently, listening to my arteries hardening.

Then, someone tapped me on my shoulder from behind.

I turned and saw two men standing there.  One was over six feet tall and at least 250+ pounds.  He was wearing overalls and a baseball cap of some kind.  He spoke first:

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Um.  Sure.”

“Where am I?”

I was nonplussed.  There was a disorienting moment when I wondered if a hidden camera was recording this conversation to be shown later on TV.  “Woman at Walmart made to look like an idiot!  Watch it at 7pm Eastern, 6pm Central!”

Then the woman in line in front of me turned around, laughed and said, “I know it’s a Monday, but I didn’t know it was that bad!”

So I meekly said, “Do you mean what city… or…what state?”  I could have included “what planet?” but didn’t.

The questioner said he thought he was in Austin and I told him, no, he was about 70 miles off.

He turned to the much smaller, thinner character with him and laughingly chided him for taking the wrong turn.

Directions to his destination were hammered out with the input of the woman in line and he and his partner moved along.

Okay.  Let’s talk teeth.  The big guy had several spaces in his upper dentition, and the remaining soldiers were coated by a lovely shade of ecru with brown overtones.  His buddy, who was a dead ringer for Cletus the Slack-jawed Yokel, had an even more eclectic set of chompers.  He had one of those faces that reminds me of an ax blade–everything comes forward into a sharp angle.  The nose, the mouth, the chin.  His teeth looked tentative, like they weren’t sure if they were coming or going.  They, too, were somewhere in the yellow/brown position on the color wheel.

Like I said, it’s a curse.

Then, there’s the lady at my gym who likes to sit in the nude on the bench in the locker room after she’s had her swim.  Why is it the ones who shouldn’t be sitting around naked are the ones who insist on doing that?  There are several older ladies who do that, even though there are perfectly good shower stalls with curtains to change behind.  But no, they have to sit there and let everything, literally, hang out….and down.

Poster girls for gravity.

The lady I initially mentioned also likes to talk.  And she wears dentures that haven’t had a good brushing or Fixodent liner in a coon’s age.  It is quite disconcerting to watch her talk (it’s not a two-way conversation) because her upper denture gradually comes sliding down and gets periodically pushed back into place by her wagging tongue.

It reminds me of the movie “Alien,” where the retractable jaws of the creature suddenly protrude from its mouth, terrorizing Sigourney Weaver.

For that brief moment, I am Sigourney Weaver.

Noticing teeth.  It’s a curse.




Rest in Peace, Mr. Barsotti

One of my favorite cartoonists from The New Yorker passed away today, Charles Barsotti.  I always admired how, as cartoon editor Bob Mankoff says, “with the minimum number of lines, Charlie could extract the maximum number of ideas.”

Here are a couple of my favorites.  For more click on this link to Mankoff’s newsletter.