When I was growing up, I rarely brushed my teeth, which, in retrospect, was probably a bad idea. I don't know why I avoided brushing my teeth. It's not like it hurt. Yet, I hated to do it.
In fact, I hated doing anything that involved my teeth. When I had my braces on as a kid, I never wore that God-forsaken headbrace at night, or put those attractive rubber bands in my mouth during the day. On one particular visit to my orthodontist - who was evil, and had chairs in his office shaped like teeth that I still see in my nightmares - he asked me if I had been wearing my rubber bands, to which I replied "yes." Then he told me to put them in, but I didn't know how, and rubber bands began slipping off of my fingers, shooting across his entire office, hitting other patients. This resulted in myself, my orthodontist, and my mother having a very heated discussion, on top of tooth-shaped chairs, about how I will never amount to anything unless I start wearing my rubber bands, which I never did.
Because I never brushed my teeth, it was not a pretty sight when my braces came off, roughly four years after I had them put on. There were whole turkey sandwiches behind the metal on my top teeth. But everything was okay, because my orthodontist gave me a retainer to wear, which I accidentally dropped down the drain the following day.
Then I went to college, where most nights I would forget to brush my teeth, mostly because I couldn't remember which dorm room was mine. As a result, my summer vacations were basically spent in a reclining chair in my dentist's office, with a copy of "Teen People" in my lap, and my mouth wide open for seven consecutive hours. You know you never brushed your teeth as a kid when you consistently have to interrupt your dentist's work because you have to go to the bathroom. Fortunately, my dentist has this great contraption that you put over your forehead and that plays movies. The last time I was there, I watched TWO movies while my dentist worked on my teeth, and then I left with a humongous red line on my forehead that didn't go away for two weeks.
Luckily for me, I have a great dentist, who has been able to virtually fix a mouthful of teeth that was ignored for years. They are straight, white enough, and can still chew food with the best of 'em. Unfortunately, the last time I was there, he discovered that I grind my teeth violently at night, and now I have to wear a mouthpiece to bed every night, for the rest of my life, which my wife says is starting to smell.
So it was yesterday that I received the notice in the mail that I dread the most. No, not the mortgage bill, but a postcard with Garfield smiling on it, reminding me to make an appointment for my once-every-six-month cleaning. Maybe this time, he can just clean my teeth, and I can leave. But, he will probably take some x-rays, look at them while making sad faces, tell me the "good news" is that he has a bunch of new movies, and then put a gas mask over my face and stick needles in my gums.
I now brush my teeth several times a day, and even use mouthwash. But I can't help but wonder what my life would be like if I had worn those damn rubber bands.