I wasn’t much different as a teenager than I am as showboating old bat. In August of 1979, I was at the pool in a friend’s backyard and my friend’s older brother had a supercute best friend in a very convincing blue Speedo bathing suit. I had taken diving lessons since the Mesozoic, so I stepped up to the diving board, took a few swift, sure steps, made my hurdle, did something zany with a few somersaults, pointed toes and sliced gracefully through the water. Aaaaand I swam into the side of the pool and broke my front tooth.
In retrospect, it was at this exact moment I should have realized comedy would be my life.
The cute boy helped me find the broken tooth. My friend’s mother made one in what Mom remembers as a long series of “Mrs. LongItalianLastName, Domenica’s okay, but – ” calls. The dentist glued my tooth back together. A few months later, I was holding a ladder while a guy I’d just met hung decorations in the high school cafeteria when I recognized his butt. You would think a kid who spent all her waking hours in costume would have the sense to reach for a trenchcoat and false mustache, but no.
Tata: You’re friends with Nipsy?
Imminent Unrequited Love Of My Young Life: Yep.
Tata: You swim a lot at his house?
IULOML: Sometimes. Why?
Tata: Remember a girl with a fancy dive and an exciting faceplant?
IULOML: Yes, I do.
Tata: That was me. Hey, I’d like to crawl in a hole, now.
Soon after, I spent two years picking leftovers out of my braces, so my high school years were like a catalog of dentalwork failures. Six years ago, I got braces again. That’ll put a crimp in your adult sex life. Stop laughing! Three years ago, I had capped four teeth damaged by braces and moral sloth. Immediately, one came apart: the one I broke with my enormous ego and a concrete wall. I have my own dentist now. He’s pretending all his patients go through gallons of epoxy. He glued it back together, and again three weeks ago.
Tata: Okay okay okay, I am in such a MOOD. A few days ago, I thought I was imagining my tooth was loose, but no. The cap came off in my hand. I was so mad I actually cursed my own ancestors, which means yours are cursed, too.
Daria: That explains the noises in my attic and my children speaking in tongues.
Tata: But the cap went right back on like a puzzle piece and everything was fine while I waited for the dentist. But then the dentist needed to take the cap for a couple of days to clean off the glue.
Daria: So you stayed home and whistled?
Tata: No, I went to work and scowled like George Harrison.
Daria: OH MY GOD! You snaggletoothed it for TWO DAYS?
Tata: Yes, and my job involves talking to lots of people, so I mastered the fine art of talking to people like they’re actually standing five feet to their right, not to mention facing away from them in meetings. It’s a good thing people already thought I was insane or it might bother them when I walk up to them backwards.
Daria: I can’t breathe!
Tata: So he glued it back together and then I bit down on some frozen dark chocolate with 85% cocoa content. It’s full of antioxidents, you know, and my tooth broke into three pieces.
Daria: I know how mad you were then. You don’t have a Louisville Slugger anymore, do ya?
Daria: Then your dentist’s probably safe. Is it fixed yet?
Tata: It is not, and here’s the best part: we’re going to Cape Cod to fix Mom’s front door and you know who cares more about my teeth than I do? Mom does. And our Mom’s mean. She’s going to stare at me. I’ll have the heebee jeebies!
Daria: Your best chance is to bring extra wine and hope Mom gets crosseyed.
Tata: I thought my best chance was to dress up as someone Mom would ignore, like police officers and car salesmen. But your way is better.
For the first time in my life I look forward to getting dentures.