Braces at 37

Editor’s note: I did not have braces as many did during high school (or junior high, or elementary school). Instead, I have been graced with them at 37 (nearly 38).

I sat in the office — this is just over a week ago — of my orthodontist with a mixture of excitement and resignation, which is a lot easier to pull off than it sounds. Excitement because I was going to get braces and finally see what the fuss was about, and it also presents an opportunity for colored bands to celebrate holidays. (October’s colors will be orange and black). Resigned because I knew that, aside from the opportunity to accessorize the little metal boxes, I’d be having said little metal boxes on my bottom teeth for about nine months.

The part that I didn’t realize until after they were cemented, one by one, to my lower teeth, is this: your mouth was not made for bits of metal to be hanging out there.

My first night I attempted to eat a salad and discovered you can’t really do that with braces, or at least not for the first week. The little metal bits rub the inside of your mouth in such a way as to give you a very good idea of what it’s like to chew on razor blades; now 8 days later the cuts and ulcerations are almost gone. They give you this little box of wax for you to attach to the exterior of your braces (to mollify your mouth, presumably) which makes you feel like a bulldog or some other jowly creature. My diet became pretty liquid, pretty fast.

Let the record state I’m not really complaining about that, because it totally went hand in hand with my recent weight loss, and I’m now ten pounds down (yeah!).

Other unforeseen things: I have acquired, if I do not take care to enunciate properly, a lisp. This was hammered home on Monday, day 4 of braces, where I had a presentation for several people who have “C” or “VP” in their titles. The job was to let them know about Really Cool Project # 432*, because yes in my job there are fully that many projects that are cool.  It totally sucks the cool out of your project when you lisp, though.

Finally, there is the little matter of dental hygiene. I’m not suggesting I didn’t have it, but the short of it is with braces you pretty much need to brush your teeth after every food event, which, for a grazer like me, means you become one with your Sonicare.

Braces: mildly annoying, purportedly useful, and fascinating accessory.


*Really cool project #431 released on Wednesday. You can get special mobile-only deals on! 🙂

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

If you think of “warp” not as in Rocky Horror Picture Show, but as in “Star Trek”, it’s the ability to warp space to get from A to B faster. Extrapolated, you can create temporal shifts with enough warp, and then Harrison Ford’s comment “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage” are more accurate than anything he said as Han Solo. I find it funny that there’s more science in Indiana Jones than there is in Star Wars. Ergo, Star Wars = Fantasy, but Star Trek = Science Fiction. And we can put that to bed.

Now that this pop culture mashup has been burned indelibly to your brain, much like a Katy Perry song, for which I should but won’t apologize, I can get to the actual point:

I am suffering from both old age and recidivist youth.

Two weeks ago I had my high school reunion. It was interesting to see how everyone had changed (or not) since high school: the age ranges looked far beyond the purported year we all shared. Some people gained weight, some did not. Some got bald, some did not. The universal take seemed to be, “It’s great to see you all, regardless of how much we liked or disliked high school, or each other for that matter”. I will note that I wasn’t all that enamored of high school, and it was less enamored of me; I just assumed that had to do with my ranking on the social totem pole (somewhere near the bottom). After a few conversations with those I had perceived were at the top, I arrived at the conclusion that no one was really enamored of the ego bruising experience that high school dishes out. At one point or another you’re on the receiving end of it, and we all agreed it sucked.

Studies have shown (is there a more self-important phrase in the English Language?) that people who share a traumatic event are linked at that level for life, like those who survive a car accident or war. I’m not akining high school to war, although there were times it felt like it.

Fast forward twenty years when parts of me seem to be doing very well (I’ve been reassured I have very good skin) and most of me is not doing well. Trips back to the Sport MD for a busted knee have me on anti inflammatory drops (40 each knee, 4x day, 2 weeks), a nitrogen patch (take it off if you feel like you’re having a heart attack, the paperwork says), and more workouts. I have arthritis. A trip to my regular doc tells me it’s time to actually watch my cholesterol, and no that doesn’t mean watch it go up. A trip to my dentist tells me it’s time for braces.

Braces. At 37.

Granted, they are “bottom only” braces, and it’s completely elective, but when I am told it’s my teeth that will age my appearance faster than my skin or hair (which is dyed), off to the orthodontist I go. And so, at 37, I will have little metal boxes on my lower set of teeth, and it will feel like the one damning high school experience I never had.

Please, please do not bring the acne back.