I am cheating this week, in that what you see above is not an authentic "old" postcard but is, instead, a postcard from my dentist's office serving as an appointment reminder. It was obviously created using old photos, and I wonder if it may have, in fact, initially been an old postcard and if the girls were each holding a small flag that was Photoshopped out and replaced with those toothbrushes you see them holding.
Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile may know that I have been wearing braces for a long time, having passed three years at the beginning of May. Adult orthodontia is a real journey, I tell ya! Mine would not actually be over quite yet because there is still some tweaking here and there that my orthodontist would have liked to do (we were never shooting for "perfect" because I had bone loss and gum recession from years of over-brushing using hard toothbrushes). But a recent x-ray showed that two roots in my front lower teeth have shortened significantly, indicating stress (and warning of potential loss of those teeth) and my orthodontist said the braces must come off immediately. It was okay with me, as I am more than ready to be done with this and I could tell that they were going to look better than they ever have in my life.
So, on Tuesday they removed the braces from the top row of teeth and measured for a clear retainer. On Thursday I will return to have a permanent metal retainer installed on the back of the lower front teeth, after which they will remove the braces on the bottom row. Then I will be done.
It is sort of magical for me having the top braces off now, with my teeth all straight and polished and looking like I wish they had all my life. In my adolescent and teen years I was especially embarrassed by my crooked teeth and I know my lack of self-esteem held me back socially, perhaps academically. During college I worked for a local savings and loan as a Girl Friday and was once sent on an errand to pick up a photo of the office softball team at a downtown photographer's studio. The photographer asked me if I modeled. I told him no and couldn't get out of there fast enough. As I walked back to the office I wondered, Didn't he see my crooked teeth? In my adulthood I was simply used to them and have even had compliments on my smile. Then in the last decade as I aged my teeth began to really shift in such a way that my bite was completely off, causing me jaw tiredness and pain and ruining the quality of my sleep. For physical and sanity reasons, and not for vanity reasons, I decided to consult with the orthodontist, and now the rest truly is nearly history.
I was told I looked like different women during varying phases on my way into adulthood. For a one-year period of my life, my junior year of high school to be exact, several different men said I looked like Geraldine Chaplin. Doctor Zhivago, the movie, had been released earlier and her role as his long-suffering wife made her famous at the time. I bring this up now because there is one photo of me taken that year in which I do see the resemblance, and it was — typically — of me not smiling, most often because I was hiding my teeth. This all came to mind because the message on the old postcard speaks about a great American smile, which made me think of the greatest song ever written about a smile, a song written by Charlie Chaplin, Geraldine Chaplin's father, who was not American at all but British, and who has been responsible through the decades for more worldwide smiles than probably any other comedic actor. And that reminded me of a marvelous video that I posted at my other blog some years ago, with Geraldine Chaplin and her daughter singing Chaplin's marvelous song, Smile. As I mentioned, references likening my appearance to Geraldine Chaplin were short-lived, and I do not see any resemblance in the mature women we have become.
Here are photos of Geraldine Chaplin and me taken within a few years of one another, followed by that wonderful video, thus ending what is probably the most personal OPW post ever here at Writerquake, and I thank you for indulging me this sidetrack.
Mother and daughter sing Smile in 2009.
Oona (Charlie Chaplin's granddaughter named for his wife, Oona) & Geraldine Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin's daughter)