Last July on LV, Flophousepoodle posted a video called Failure Smorgasbord. Someone left her the following comment: “U need a dental job.”
At the time I cringed when I read that comment, being as I feel great affection for FHP, and I wondered how she would react when she read it. How do you react to a comment that’s intended to hurt? She gave one of the best comebacks I’ve ever read because it was full of humor and grace and humility while underscoring the meanness of the commenter:
“I guess I should thank you for stopping there. I need many things.”
The next day Flophouse wrote a blog about teeth in which she wrote that teeth are “the easiest recognizable social divide.”
I realized this truth about teeth some time ago and ever since, I have felt like something of a poser—because I have naturally perfect teeth. You can disguise your social class with education, attire, and accent, but you cannot disguise the appearance that comes only from being born to parents who can afford thousands of dollars worth of orthodonture for you.
I come from a long line of sharecroppers and factory workers. I am the only member of my family who graduated from high school and then achieved the pipe dream of college. When I was a kid, the adults in my family could not watch TV without commenting on the teeth of TV and movie stars, an obsession I didn’t understand then. I never got to visit a dentist until I was eleven years old, and then it was to have two cavities filled. The only cavities I ever had and probably ever will have, it seems.
My next dental visit came when I was 21 and I got a job with dental coverage. This is when I learned that I have perfect teeth. The dentist asked how long I’d had braces. I told him I never had them, and about my one previous dental appointment. “Amazing!” he said. Then he called in his assistants to look at my mouth as he measured every tooth in my head and the distance between them. “Every tooth is perfectly shaped, and you have an alignment of upper and lower bite and a straightness in your teeth that is more perfect than anything I’ve seen in a textbook!” he told me. Gosh. It made me feel kinda special to be a medical oddity, one who wasn’t deformed.
There are a lot of benefits to having good teeth, an absence of pain being a wonderful one. But being able to attend functions with people of higher social strata than myself, undetected as the working-class poser that I am, has no doubt enabled me to progress in my academic work environment. I never underestimate the social value of this freebie nature has given me.
Still… there is an old putdown joke that goes “when God was handing out good looks, you musta been standing at the back of the line!” In comments made on FHP’s videos, and in comments others have made to me about her, I have heard her compared in beauty at various times to Emma Thompson, Jodie Foster, Toni Collette, and Diana Rigg. On that imaginary day of the beauty handouts, I imagine Flophouse far in line ahead of me. In fact, when I finally get to meet God, he says, “Jeez, I’m just plumb all out of almost everything. All out of ice-blue eyes, high cheekbones, Roman noses, porcelain skin, full lips. But I’ve got a set of perfect teeth here…”
I sigh. “Okay. If that’s all ya got, I’ll take ‘em.”