On Friday, Wil and I decided to get a late lunch/early dinner (what we like to call ‘early bird special’ because we’re eating at the time when senior citizens like to eat) at California Pizza Kitchen. We were starving and the place was already getting crowded so we opted to eat at the counter instead of waiting for a table.
I ordered the tostada pizza; a thin crust pizza with black beans, lettuce, cheese, salsa and little bits of crispy tostada shell on it. Even though it’s supposed to be eaten by picking it up with your hands, I have a serious paranoia over getting food stuck in my teeth, so I ate it with a fork and knife which Wil teased me for doing but whatever dude.
As we were getting ready to leave, the waiter came over and talked to us for several minutes. I smiled and chatted, and then stopped at the restrooms before leaving the restaurant. I glanced in the mirror, doing the teeth check grin for food, expecting to see nothing (I mean, come on, I ate my pizza with a freaking fork) and across the top half of my front tooth, wedged in ever so gently along my gums was a huge hunk of black bean skin. A HUGE HUNK. I looked like meth teeth lady but only on one tooth. OH GOD.
I walked out of the bathroom, thanked Wil for not noticing my rotted tooth look BEFORE I talked to the waiter, and quickly darted out of the restaurant, looking only at the ground because if you can’t see them, they can’t see you. All of this reminded me of an even more horrifying story that happened when my kids were teenagers, so in my continued efforts of no mystery and the ongoing job of being a mom who embarrasses her kids, I will share that story now.
When my boys were in their early teens, they both needed braces. After they got them on, I consulted with the orthodontist about my own teeth. I never had braces as a kid (my teeth had been fairly straight) but when I was 16, my bottom teeth had gotten pushed together a bit from my wisdom teeth coming in wrong. I got all four wisdom teeth out, but still didn’t get braces. I never cared about having perfectly straight teeth, but over the years, they had moved a little more and one was starting to hit the back of my top tooth, which can cause damage and even change my bite. The orthodontist recommended braces as soon as possible. My top teeth weren’t really crooked at all except for maybe one tooth and since I didn’t care about them being perfectly straight, I chose to only get them on the bottom. The orthodontist warned me that once I saw how straight the bottom ones were, I’d want the top ones the same way. He was right, and three months after getting the bottom ones on (lovely, metal ones I might add) I got clear ones on top. Honestly, I don’t know how teenagers do it. My teeth KILLED me the entire year I had those things on. They also became the source of my paranoia over food getting caught in them because it happened ALL THE TIME.
Wil was working out of town one weekend so I decided to take the kids to lunch at a fun place called Rose City Diner in Old Town Pasadena. It was a 50’s diner complete with a juke box and old fashioned malts, burger and fries. On Saturdays, they would have a magician who would stop at each table and entertain the customers with cool tricks.
The kids and I were seated at a booth not far from the juke box. They both quickly scanned the menu for what they wanted and then asked me for quarters to go choose songs to be played. While they were away from the table, the waitress came over to take our order. Since my teeth were killing me from getting the bands on my braces tightened the day before, I decided it would hurt too much to get a burger that I would have to bite into with my front teeth, so I just got a salad.
The kids told me about stuff going on at school and with friends while we ate our lunch. As I was mid-bite, a magician approached our table. The kids were excited to see tricks and when I looked up to watch him, I realized it was a friend of Wil’s that I hadn’t seen for at least two years. I swallowed my food and jumped up to hug him and introduce him to Ryan and Nolan. I sat back down and talked to him for close to ten minutes, laughing and smiling as he caught me up on his life. I would glance across the table at the kids where Ryan would give me a wide-eyed “what are you doing?!” look, occasionally kicking my leg from under the table, and Nolan had sort of a confused kind of look of horror on his face. I assumed they were being typical teenagers, feeling awkward as their mom talked with someone who was a complete stranger to them, but I was wrong.
After the magician friend walked away, I said “What is going on with you guys?” to the kids. Ryan said “Oh my god, mom. Get a mirror and look at your teeth.” I immediately scrambled through my purse to find a mirror. I found one, pulled it out, and did the teeth check grin into it. OH. MY. GOD. OHMYGOD! I had a huge spinach leaf across not one, but TWO of my front teeth. It was wedged between the bracket on my teeth and my gums, spread across like some kind of joke leaf.
“What the hell? Why didn’t you guys tell me? OH GOD I was laughing and smiling and he could see the ENTIRE LEAF and oh god hurry up and eat I need to get out of here.” I said to the kids while frantically trying to pick the leaf out of my teeth which was now completely stuck in the bracket. “We tried to tell you but you just kept talking” both kids said, trying to eat their food quickly so we could make our escape. “NEXT TIME TRY HARDER” I said in a loud yet mortified sounding whisper. I paid the bill and darted out of the place, looking down because if you can’t see them, they can’t see you.
I’ve seen Wil’s magician friend several times since that fateful day, ten some odd years ago. He’s never said anything about that spinach leaf caught in my braces but he does look at my teeth when I talk to him. I can only imagine he’s giggling and cringing on the inside while picturing that giant spinach leaf across my two front teeth. If he doesn’t, he’s missing out because that’s what I do EVERY TIME I see him.