Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Story of the Fake Tooth in me
by Jessica Delfino

TRUE STORY: One of my front teeth is fake.

I got pushed off a boat by my dad when I was about 6. Does that sound harsh to you, the reader? It probably sounds less harsh than it actually was.

First of all, my dad was my step-dad, not even my real dad. He probably had no right to be pushing me anywhere. We were in a dinghy (another word for boat) fishing in the reeds in a river in Maine. I sat aperched upon the boat's siderail, life-vest framing my face and body like a dramatic and ugly hair-do. My dad said, "Hey Jess, wanna go swimming?" I looked up at him, a blue-eyed-doe-eyed girl in all my 6 year old glory, and squawkily replied with trust, with love, with naivete', "Yeah, dad!" He then briskly shoved me into the murky, shallow waters, whence I immediately smashed my face and teeth into the side of the boat in a panicked frenzy of gasping and hand-thrashing. I was a very insecure child.


When I was five, I saw my mom get locked inside a laundry mat. She had been drying her wets, and the mean man said it was closing time, half an hour early. My mom said, "I still have a half hour, mister," and he said, "It's my mini-evil empire, and if I say beat it, you gotta beat it." So, my mom said, "I'm not leaving til my laundry's done, buddy." So, the guy locked her in the damp laundry store. My mom is a strong, doesn't take any shit kind of mom. So, her next move was to pick up the chair-attached-to-table-attached-to-chair and lunge it over her head through the plate glass window, like some medieval war heroine. (Xena, She-ra, etc.)

The guy promptly started shitting in his pants. He said, "Now, I'm gonna have you arrested!" She climbed out the window, yelling, "Now, I'm gonna kick your ass!"

A chase ensued, and my Aunt, who had been watching the whole thing with me in the parking lot took me inside so I wouldn't be witness to the bloody beating which the bad man was about to experience.

Later, my mom would come home and hide the pot pipe, just moments before I watched her get arrested by the police. I was such a cute kid. I remember asking the cop, "Are you gonna take my mom to jail?" I thought it might help.

This all seems much funnier in my head than it's actually probably coming out.

HENCE: I feared my mother would be taken away from me for the remainder of my childhood. That feeling gave way to the fear in my teens that she would never leave me alone.

WHICH BRINGS US BACK TO: He then briskly shoved me into the murky, shallow waters, whence I immediately smashed my face and teeth into the side of the boat in a panicked frenzy of gasping and hand-thrashing.

A chunk of my front tooth about the size of a pea is rotting as we speak on the bottom of the muddy river of Jefferson, Maine's Damariscotta Lake. Unless a fish ate it, got caught, and then went into a person/bear's tummy. Then it's in the woods somewhere.

My dad refused to fix my broken tooth, (which perhaps eventually led to my broken youth) and insisted I instead brave the evil child years of grammar school with half a front tooth. I believe this is part of the reason I nick-named him dookey daddy over dinner one night. My sisters and I chanted this at him, forks in hand banging on the table, as all we sat eating dinner. It infuriated him so badly, he screamed at us, stopped to spit his food out, screamed at us some more, then picked the chewed up bite of steak back up, put it in his mouth and finished chewing it when he was done yelling.

LATER: In college, I got a job at Banana Republic. Part of my job was to make a spiffy khaki display using these plexiglas sheets covered in some kind of contact tape. Another part of my job was to peel the sheets of contact tape off. As I did this to one, it came flying up and hit me in the chipped tooth, and chipped it some more. I reported my chip in my chipped tooth to a supervisor, and she insisted I leave and go to the local Banana Republic dentist to get it looked at right away. I did. And got paid to do that!

In his office, he told me that he could remove the whole tooth and replace it with this special space-age porcelain (the same stuff they make toilets with) which is exactly like a tooth in every way. It feels like a tooth, looks like a tooth, tastes like a tooth, even reflects light - just like a real tooth. They are made in Sweden using some kind of hi-tech computer generating thing, and cost $10,000 each. He said it would be Banana Republic's treat. I said yes.

During the whole ordeal, I had a fake fake front tooth for awhile. He made it out of some shittier crap that wasn't like a real tooth at all. It was like a huge piece of obvious. It could have been corn or chicklets, or some other foodthing. It was grosser than gross. But then, I got my new big white ten grand tooth.

During a performance with my band, I accidentally smashed my front tooth with the microphone in a particularly passionate performance, and re-cracked my ten thousand dollar tooth.

I guess some things were meant to be, and one of them was that there was meant to be a chipped front tooth in me.

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