[Translation = mouth and teeth, just in case you were wondering]
I’ve always had them of course, the bad teeth that is to say, well ...after the baby teeth dropped out. The difference now, is that I’m aware that they are bad. When I was in England I was vaguely aware that they weren’t the best set of snappers around, but since I was in England, I blended in perfectly with my surroundings.
When we first arrived in America, the land of gleaming, white enamel, I did become a little more self conscious about the gnashers. My first visit to an American dentist confirmed my worst fears. [translation = failed the teeth test] I was immediately advised that surgery and braces were an absolute MUST. “But how do you eat?” they would wail. [translation = a foreshadowing of the experiences I would later have with my children] Since I was alive, obviously I had managed to eat quite successfully for any number of years. [translation = approximately 34 at the time]
It took me a long time [translation = 9 years and three visits home in one particular year] to make me realize the truth of the matter.
Now that I have emerged post surgery, post braces and accepted the confinement of a retainer, I have to learn a whole new skill. The skill that I need to acquire, is the ability to smile. It’s not that I don’t smile of course, I do, frequently. [translation = at least once every five minutes, but I’m still struggling to match my American cousins and their semi permanent state of smiling] No, the difference between my smile and yours, is that I never show my teeth when I smile.
It’s more a curling of the lips at the corners, rather than what would commonly be described as a smile. [translation = no enamel shall be exposed on pain of death] If I was asked to describe my smile, I would describe it as grinning from ear to ear. If you grin from ear to ear, then you have more lip skin available to stretch from ear to ear, than you would do if you parted your lips. You can easily demonstrate this fact for yourself. [translation = I hear your doubt] If you take one large elastic band and stretch it from one ear to the other ear in a double line, you can clearly see that it doesn’t have to stretch anything like as much, as if you slip each end around your ears. [translation = don’t ping your nose by accident] It’s almost twice as much elastic. [translation = wasteful, save that planet]
So for the time being I’m trying very hard to change my 'every five minute grin,' from a gentle curve to a……a……smile, I suppose.
My son approaches me from behind as I type.
“What you are do?”
“Oh just typing dear.”
“No! What you are do wiv yur mowf?”
“Oh I see! Well, if you move your head a bit, like this, [translation = I demonstrate by modeling the desired behaviour] then you can see your reflection in the computer screen, a bit like a mirror. See?”
“No! I know bout dah mirror. I wanna know bout dah teef, dah mowf?”
“Oh. I’m practicing my smile, smiling er, yes, that’s what I’m doing, I’m practicing my smile. Look you can see my teeth. Can you see my teeth?”
“Er yes, but I am seeing dah plastic more, er morer dan dah teef. It is dah plastic, dah fake.”
I stop myself from shouting ‘RETAINER’ at him. [translation = could it be that I have inadvertently turned myself into a fake plastic "American!"]
There again, plastic teeth go quite well with other little fake bits that I've acquired over the years, such as the dyed hair. [translation = no longer it's oh so natural battleship grey] Maybe I should give him a little more "credit."