In junior high, I watched most of my friends get braces. I saw the whole process through from beginning to end - head gear for the unfortunate, rubber bands, and missed classes for tightening appointments.
One by one, the time passed and my friends emerged from the experience with big smiles and straight teeth. Sure, there were retainers to be worn after - but that was all part of the fun, right? I was green with envy; my teeth were so crooked that one tooth was completely eclipsed by my magnificent, chiclet-sized front teeth. Braces had never been a consideration since we never could have afforded them.
I have always been self-conscious about my teeth. I covered my mouth with my hand when I laughed, and most photos taken were of me with a close-lipped smile on my face. One of the most embarrassing moments that I've had as an adult was during Halloween, when a co-worker thought I was wearing fake teeth as part of my witch costume. I will never forget the look on her face when she realized her mistake - but I can tell you with certainty that I felt worse than she did. There's just no taking something like that back.
So, I got braces as an adult. At 25-years old, I endured rubber bands, missed work for tightening appointments, and even head gear - although my orthodontist said I was fortunate because I would only have to wear it at night. My thought was, "Fortunate? For whom?" Because I can tell you that all romance grinds to a halt walking into the bedroom with that thing on my face. It's just so not sexy.
And although it felt like time stood still, eventually came the final appointment where I had them removed. Running my tongue across my teeth was one of the best feelings ever, and the nicest thing I've done for my self esteem.
To celebrate the occasion, we had friends over for dinner. The menu? Ribs, corn on the cob, and caramel apples for dessert.