When Vanity Bites Back, or Life with Invisialign

My OKCupid user name back in the day was SheLIkesToSmile. Now, I can do that with straighter teeth... and by now, I mean a year from now.
My OKCupid user name back in the day was SheLIkesToSmile. Now, I can do that with straighter teeth… and by now, I mean a year from now.

I have this one tooth. It’s the lateral incisor on my right. It sits back behind my canine and my central incisor — a punishment for abandoning my retainer too soon. In the wrong light, I can look like a hockey player who lost a fight with a puck to my mouth. In the best light, I look like the kid whose teeth just grew in and whose parents still haven’t booked her appointment with the orthodontist.

I see it in every photo and every time I go to smile, I’m aware of it. But the tooth that make me look like a kindergartner doesn’t stop me from smiling. Life’s too short not to smile… but it does mean that I usually fight to stand on the left of any portrait (a fight I always inevitably loose.)

In the summer of 2012, an upper wisdom tooth abscessed, and before I could say “ouch” I was under anesthesia and undergoing a double tooth extraction. I woke up in a dentist office overlooking Central Park and stumbled a few blocks south east to the Brasserie, where I complimented some mild pain killers with a martini before passing out again at home. I was lucky — my face was barely puffy and when I went out the next day to celebrate the return of a few friends from the London Olympics, no one could tell I had just survived an oral surgery that seems to knock people off their feet for days.

Sometimes, with the wrong angle, I can look like this….

The trouble came a year later when my teeth started to shift again. Jaw and tooth pain compounded with my misplaced incisor inspired me to look into the full orthodontic works. I could handle braces again, I thought. I mean, I already look like I’m 16, why not? It might be nice to be carded more often again.

When it turned out I was a candidate for invisialign, I was pretty stoked. I could handle having braces in my social life, but being ol’ metal mouth again in a professional one was less appealing. It was even better when my quote for the treatment came in under my no-go threshold.

So on December 28th, my dentist attached some pretty sexy anchors to my teeth and sent me home with my first trial.

It was like wearing a mouth guard. Within the first hour, I was kicking myself. My lower jaw was jutting out, I couldn’t figure out how to keep my mouth closed, and saliva was pouring down my chin in the most unattractive way. I lisped and talking for more than 30 seconds was exhausting. Was this sheer act of vanity destined to be my downfall? That $7,000 could have been put to good use elsewhere… like on clothes. Would lipo have been less expensive?

“There goes your sex life,” my mother said as she passed me a tissue.

It was family movie night, and as we sat in the theater watching the coming attractions, a large drop of drool fell out of the corner of my mouth and onto my shirt.

It was something I hadn’t considered. Between tooth brushes and birth control, there were already enough accessories to pack on an adult sleep over, adding an invisalign kit into the mix definitely exed the possibilities of a casual overnight. Plus, “honey, just excuse me while I put my teeth back in,” is not the sexiest phrase for the under octogenarian set.

Being ready for anything just got complicated.

My new life as a single girl with dental appliances was put to the test faster than I expected. In another display of my talent for Bad Timing, I had scheduled a first date with a dreamy commercial pilot turned lawyer within the first 24 hours of beginning invisialign.

For the most part, it all went off without a hitch, largely because I left the device at home. However, my teeth hurt so much I couldn’t chew anything more solid than mashed potatoes and everything we ordered seemed to be made of bricks. As our date moved into its 6 hour (and my third, maybe fourth? drink) I started getting anxious — I had passed my 4 hour invisialign-free limit. And I was hungry. Like, really hungry.

Our good night kiss was brief. Like Cinderella I had to get home before the clock struck “too late!” and my tooth shifted back into its crocked place. Orthodontics are at least as expensive and irreplaceable as glass slippers…

The Seam-Splitters

I've nicknamed my thighs the seam splitters....
I’ve nicknamed my thighs the seam splitters….

I’ve nick-named my thighs “the seam-splitters.”

Arguably, it’s not a very flattering nickname, and I’m sure you’re wondering why a young woman would want to give such a self-effacing and school-playground-teasing nickname to a part of her body. Or, perhaps you’re saying to me, “common, your thighs aren’t thaaaat big.”

No, really. They are. Just ask my wounded pants…

Right now there are 3 pairs of jeans draped over a wicker armchair in my bedroom, each a victim of the seam-splitters. One pair just returned from a tailor who painstaking reconstructed the upper legs with patches, as if the jean were an ancient, priceless Athenian terra cotta vase. The other two are awaiting the same treatment, though they are more likely destined for the trash.

None of these victims have seen more than a year of action, and yet, despite their youth, there they lay, the stitching along the inner thighs torn asunder, split and worn away — jeans in their prime, fatally maimed in the name of fashion.

I know the distressed/patched/custom look is always chic, but still....
I know the distressed/patched/custom look is always chic, but still….

It’s a fate I prepare myself for every time I go shopping: the jeans I buy will split along the inner thighs.  I’ve come to think of jeans as if they are pantyhose: not quite single use, but I shouldn’t get too attached —  it’s only a matter of time before “tricks of the trade,”  like applied clear nail polish or hairspray fail and the devastating run wins, rendering them unwearable.

I’ve learned to spot all the signs that a tear is pending, that the next wear will probably be my last. If I do find a winning pair, they get set aside as “special occasion” jeans. Sometimes, I just buy two right up front.

In high school, I wrote an essay for my AP English class entitled: I Run on Diesel. I was, of course, referring to the Italian denim brand that finally offered me a cut of jeans that seemed to accommodate what my father so kindly referred to as my “thunder thighs.” If there’s nothing else to take away from this look back on my teen years, its that my battle to find well-fitting, properly-enforced leg-wear has been lifelong…

What is a relatively new phenomenon is acceptance. This is just how I’m built. We all have those body areas that give us grief and make us self conscious. For most of my life, that area was my thighs.  For years, I attacked fitness routines and diets promising trimmer legs. It was a mean twist of irony when, as I got fitter, my legs packed on muscle, so instead of shrinking, they got bigger. When I was a competitive athlete, my thunder thighs were an asset. Now that I’m retired, my main goal at the gym is to keep my thighs in seam-splitting shape.

Jeans, be warned.

I’ve learned to ❤ my thunder thighs, aka “The Seam Splitters”

My Adopted Extended Family Weighs in on My Love Life

It could have been a scene out of Steel Magnolias.

As they grilled me about the boy who wanted a second date, I thought It could have been a scene out of Steel Magnolias.

My finger nails were wrapped in acetone-soaked cotton balls, one foot splashed in a tub of soapy water, the other foot was being assaulted by a file, and I was surrounded by a team of women in white lab coats all asking the same questions: What’s his name? How’d ya meet him? What does he do? Where are you going? Is he good enough for you?

Marbella, Linda, Suzan, and Margaritte — these are the women that keep my hair neat, my nails manicured, and my bikini-line in check. They’re also my adopted extended family. With relationships forged in my pre-teen years, they’ve followed me as I passed from one phase of  young adulthood into the next. We’ve traded life stories, swapped allergy remedies, rejoiced in each other’s successes, and lamented one another’s losses.

So, if there’s one group that has a right to weigh in on my love life, it’s these women. Not only have they all called dibs on wedding-day preparations, they’ve reserved the right to inspect all potential suitors.

If there's one thing I've learned in dating, it's to never put the cart before the horse

I sat there like a deer in the headlights, trying to keep my composure while Marbella swiped on a second coat of “fruit sangria” as they all grilled me about the guy who sent sweet text messages, made me laugh, and wanted another date. I knew if I started to talk, I’d start to gush, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the great game of dating, it’s to never to put a cart before the horse.

“Just tell us! Do you like him?!?!?”

My lips were sealed, but my cheeks, which had just changed to match my neon-pink toenails, provided answer enough.

What Halloween Revealed about My Sense of Fashion

If you've ever seen me first thing in the AM, you know I don't need a costume to look a fright

Some girls dress up as wenches or sexy police officers for Halloween. I have a personal aversion to skin-tight fake patent leather and catching pneumonia, so I tend to refrain from these options. Other girls opt for ghouls, hags, or witches. If you’ve ever seen me first thing in the morning, you know I don’t need a costume to look a total fright.

When I awoke last Saturday morning, I faced the pressing need to settle on a costume for a friend’s Halloween party. In my right hand I held the riding helmet that I wore in my equestrian days, in my left, a genuine pith helmet, on my bed sat a vintage straw cloche, a stetson, and a wide-brimmed embellished velvet hat. There was a costume to match each accessory… the question was  is it a “Puss in Boots” or a “Dr. Livingston” sort of Halloween?

Whenever there was a skit or film project in grade school, I was the girl everybody wanted on their team. It wasn’t just because I was a control freak who was happy to do the majority of the work if it ensured an A+. It was because I could always costume the cast. Outfit 5 for a Wild  West adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Othello?” No problem. How about a French perfume “commercial” set in the 1920s? Done. For me, Halloween has always been about taking on a new persona. Recently, it’s been about exploiting the eclectic contents of my wardrobe. How many western shirts does one New York gal really need?

For me, Halloween has always been about taking on a new persona... not about skin-tight, plunging necklines

Even in my adult years, my wardrobe remains one deep costume bin.  My closet is a varied but edited mix of styles and epochs — the product of a decade of smart buying and self-defining. “You have your own look,” Mara said to me as we walked through the East Village (on a night sans costumes). She’s a good, straight-shooting friend who has known me since the 4th grade. “It’s not ‘trendy’ or off the rack. It’s fashionable and totally you.”

Apparently, it’s also very Halloween appropriate.

A few days after the bewitching All Hallows Eve, I rummaged through my closet in search of an outfit to take me through a hurried city day with some friends and settled on something easy and layered.

“Going to a belated Halloween party?” Jessie asked as I gave her a hug.


“Isn’t that what you wore to Brian’s Halloween thing last Saturday?”

Okay, she might have been mostly right… but who says the whimsy only has to come out for costumes?


From Dr. Livingston to City Girl in Motion...

The Nobel Judges Missed a Nominee

Dear Nobel Prize Judges,

The Scientists behind Victoria's Secret Push-Up bras have been overlooked for one of these in physics

In your selection of nominees for outstanding achievement in physics, you overlooked a team of  accomplished researchers who have bent the rules of spacial relations and defied Earth’s gravity.

The scientists behind the Victoria’s Secret Miraculous push-up bra deserve significant recognition. Thanks to their developments in fabric engineering, for the

first time in my 25 years, I have cleavage. It really was miraculous: I looked down and there it was — a bosom. I am not the only lab rat who experienced this phenomenon. There are witnesses and other consumers who have been able to repeat the results of the experiment.


Formerly Bosomless


I lost my favorite bra at the Atlanta Convention Center. Don’t ask. The resulting shortage of  support-wear meant it was time to cash in my VS gift card and replace the wayward undergarment. Hence the fitting-room laboratory discovery and my subsequent letter to Sweden.

The first time I ever shopped at Victoria’s Secret I was desperate. I was in college, it was exam week, some classmates were coming over for an all-night study session, and I had just gotten out of the shower to face the reality that I hadn’t done my laundry. Sure I could have gone commando, but knowing it would be another day or two before the items in the hamper would make it to the washing machine, I pushed my study-session back, threw my towel in the corner, and hopped on the 1-train.

that signature "don't you want to know what I just bought" pink bag

Prior to this excursion, I viewed the home of Heidi Klum and such other buxom bombshells as a store I had no business shopping in. It was only for those with boyfriends or double-D’s. I had neither. But I was in need of underwear. It was time to go where (I thought) no single, b-cup had gone before.

“Would you like to join our mailing list?” asked the cashier. Empowered and feeling flattered at the thought I could be one of “them,” I boldly answered “Yes.”  With the signature “don’t you want to know what I just bought” pink bag in hand I walked into the street like a victorious general. Victoria was willing to share her secret with me… and I had the goods to prove it.

Now every year for my birthday, my father gives me a Victoria’s Secret gift card. That’s right, some fathers give their daughters Barnes & Nobles or Crate & Barrel gift cards. Some fathers use birthdays to tell their daughters to read more or that they need a new lounge chair. Mine, concerned I’m not “going out” enough, hands me a “go buy some lingerie” card. Et tu, daddy?

Then again, maybe he’s just trying to save me the subway fare when I miss laundry day…. or lose my favorite bra in a convention center.