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.



18 thoughts on “Smile, You’re Not on Candid Camera

  1. Try being a musician. I am sensitive to sound. I can be way overwhelmed by music playing to knuckles cracking. So I can relate a little. Gift but also a curse at times. If you want to your true me put me in a gymnasium and kids are making noises and it is jumbled with no order no rhythm. Just noise and more noise.


    • Ouch! My sympathies. Since I have constant ringing in both ears I can be easily overwhelmed when I’m in a crowded room with a lot of background noise. Can’t make out what people are saying over the din. Sometimes that’s a blessing, though.


  2. I don’t want to imagine the breath that goes with those terrifying chompers. And it is true, it’s always the least attractive amongst us that love to flaunt what they don’t got (please forgive the intentionally bad grammar). At Pride here in NYC, women are allowed to go topless. The first thing Milton noticed was the topless obese woman who was standing across from us at Pride last year. Her knockers are the size of watermelons and the sag factor is an 11, on the Spinal Tap scale of grading. Please note that she did not make an appearance in our 2014 Pride post. We really do have Pride, but in her case, we also have standards.


    • I attribute my diminished sense of smell not to aging but to years of overexposure to the above mentioned breath. Sort of like how creatures adapt to their surroundings. Survival of the fittest. Loved your Pride post. They used to say that if you could put a pencil under your breasts and it stayed there without dropping, you shouldn’t go braless. With your parade lady, it would be more like a baseball bat. 🙂


      • I’m so glad that you liked that post. Milton and I might take a break next year after covering that parade for five years. We’re getting up there and his knee was killing him. On the subway ride uptown, the first time we sat in over five hours, he declared that he might never get up from that seat for the rest of his life. We were both so wiped out neither of us had alcohol at dinner. That was a first.


  3. I have a friend who’s a dentist who notices teeth in a way I’d never heard of before until your post. She told me it’s an industry thing, but now I believe it. I never knew teeth came in so many different shades. I swear, she could have started a new dental-themed box of Crayola.


    • Thank you! Good to hear from you again, sir! Yeah, part of why I was dumbfounded by this guy was just what you’re saying. There are all KINDS of signs on the highways into town that state the name of it very plainly. And why pick me? They could have gone up to anyone in the parking lot, fer cryin’ out loud, and asked the same question. And actually, they really didn’t take a wrong turn, they just needed to continue on the same highway that Walmart is on in order to get to Austin. Very strange dudes…


  4. Why am I thinking that those two guys may have been indulging in a little something before stopping by their (not so) local WalMart? Glad not to be on the road with them.
    Teeth are something I am self conscious about. I try to keep mine out of the limelight if possible. Now I know why!


  5. It may be a curse, but it makes for great writing material!

    I floss daily, partly because I can’t imagine being a dental hygienist, and I want to make the life of mine as happy as possible!!!


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