Given that's what my mouth was probably going to look like, I needed to make the right decision.

Given that’s what my mouth was probably going to look like, I needed to make the right decision.

Armed with critical semi-facts, it was braces decision-making time.

I left the dentist office a bit confused. Mind you, I leave lots of places confused, so this wasn’t too unusual.

Two thoughts cycled in my head.

1. $2,500. I could get my novel edited for that kind of money. What’s more important: an amazingly wordsmithified book that could rocket me to even greater heights of authordom obscurity or teeth that stopped doing the mambo? I needed to do a cost-benefit analysis.

2. What do braces really look like on old people like me? I needed to do some ortho recon.

The cost-benefit analysis was pretty simple. I’ve made enough money on my memoir to pay for a good start on the editing process for my next novel. Plus, I have a few more friends  people who try not to avoid me  contacts now that I didn’t have before. Maybe they will help me as beta readers or give me reviews I can use before I release the book. I’ll just flash them a pathetic metallic smile, remind them of my brain surgery and cross my fingers.

Hey, thanks for coming by. I have a favor to ask. I'm a little strapped for cash and feeling kinda low...

Hey, thanks for coming by. I have a favor to ask. I’m a little strapped for cash…

The ortho recon wasn’t so simple. It’s hard to discretely stare at people’s mouths. When they notice–and they notice–they get nervous and clam up, which totally defeats the point of staring at their mouths.

Aw, come on. Someone open your mouth.

Aw, come on. Someone open your mouth.

I tried to look at a lot of teeth. I didn’t see one person my age, or even close to it, with braces. But I saw lots of people who:

1. had nice straight teeth, so maybe they had braces before or were just born lucky

2. had horrible teeth and really could use some dental work, like, pronto

3. were ready to dial 911 and report me as “that creepy lady who keeps staring at my mouth.”

My dentist said that nearly half of her ortho patients were older. Either her definition of “older” is very different from mine, or she wasn’t being honest with me. I should know better than to trust people wearing masks.

Don't worry. I'm just really into hockey. I'm the goaly. And, hey, hockey is a contact sport, right?

Don’t worry. I’m just really into hockey. I’m the goalie. And, hey, hockey is a contact sport, right? Just trust me, okay?

But, maybe I just don’t hang in circles where the be-braced oldsters hang out, so I checked the Internet.

Well, well, well. My dentist must do a good sales job on her “older” patients (defined on ortho sites as 18+), because the statistic is more like 20%.

Now I understand why I didn’t see any metal-mouths while I was going out to eat for the “Early-Bird” specials or at the fund-raiser for an antique organ (pipe organ, not a human body part). If I want to see “adult braces,” I need to enroll in college or hang out at The Gap.

Low probability of braces.

Low probability of braces, but easy to spot.

Higher probability of braces, but also harder to glimpse.

Higher probability of braces, but harder to spot.

*****

I called my dentist after a few days and told the receptionist to schedule me for all that preliminary braces falderal (a cast of my mouth, special x-rays, and head shots–none of which I could probably use for my new book jacket).

Meet Lorna Lee, Memoirist and now Novel Writer. Her new book is as intriguing as what you think she's thinking. See what I mean?

Meet Lorna Lee, Memoirist and now Novel Writer. Her new book is as intriguing as what you think she’s thinking. See what I mean?

That took about an hour and almost $300.

About 2 weeks later I returned for my consultation. My braces were “only” going to cost my $2,000. Such a deal! I felt as if I saved $500. I was actually happy. This is how my mind works.

My dentist told me that two of my teeth were so gyrated that they were beyond repair. It would be too painful and take too long.

“How long?”

“It depends.”

“Can you ball-park it for me?”

“At least four to five years.”

“Yeah, leave them to their evil ways.”

“After your other teeth are straight, we can always use a resin on those turned teeth to fill in the gaps they’ve created.”

“How much will that be?”

“I’ll work up an estimate.”

It’s about $200 a tooth. But I can decide later. I can also decide if I want whitening, which they highly recommend since I’ll be smiling so much more often and very broadly. That’s an extra $650. I think I discovered a new cosmetic cosmic phenomenon: the White Hole–it just sucks you and your money in.

The next step was preparing my teeth for the braces. They put “spacers” between some of the molars to “make room” between the tighter teeth. The “spacers” are small rubber bands that are jammed between your teeth and just flop around for a week making your life miserable. I think they’re used to make the actual braces feel good when the spacers are finally taken out.

Two friendly assistants tried to put the spacers in. Usually one assistant is enough. But not for me. Apparently my molars are hugging each other pretty tight while other teeth are rather standoffish.

My teeth did not get this memo.

My teeth did not get this memo.

After much sighing and grunting (not from me), a few rubber fragments flying in my mouth, and serious admonitions not to swallow, they wedged one spacer in. It felt like they implanted a huge piece of broccoli stem. Thankfully, they couldn’t get any more in. They gave up and pulled the one out. Apparently “spacers” aren’t really necessary. I made a mental note to Google dentistry and torture.

Yup. I knew it.

Yup. I knew it.

Since I didn’t have to wait a week for the spacer ordeal, I scheduled the braces for the following day. Why wait?

Stay tuned for the big reveal. I know you want to see a picture of Lorna with braces…

Should I be a suspense writer or what?

Should I be a suspense writer or what?