You need some backstory. It began when I was 15. My friends and I went on a Spring Break trip with a church youth group. One of us decided a quick game of softball would be a fun way to waste a few minutes. But that ended after the first hit when the ball landed on my face. What was supposed to be a fun, 3 day get-away turned into an emergency trip to the dentist to get my tooth shoved back into my gums. I’ll spare you the gore, but blood, puking, swelling, stitches, strange glue holding my teeth together, infection, a round of antibiotics shot directly into my left cheek (not the one of my face), and innumerable dentists visits are all a part of my story.
However, not until many years later did the UPS get involved.
You see, whatever dental magic was done to me between that fateful day and on through my early 30’s was no longer doing it’s job and I needed a dental implant. The prosthetic dentist told me this was a fairly easy process and set my appointment. Since my dentist was 40 minutes away and across from a nice mall which we never visited, I wore my cute boots and planned to head to the Apple store afterwards. My 45 minute procedure turned into a 2 hour ordeal, complete with tears and an almost-lethal amount of numbing medicine. Afterwards, the nurse sat me up, handed me some Advil and a clear mouth guard looking thing and, in a heavy Russian accent told me to “wait three days to let the swelling go down before I tried to put on the flipper”.
I looked down at the dental device she had placed in my hands and saw the tooth that used to be attached to my skull now glued into a precise spot on this flipper thing. It looked like one of those invisiline things people get instead of braces. Apparently I was to wear this thing while my mouth healed from the implant. More tears. I was toothless. Well, not entirely toothless. But my front tooth was missing. Panic. Vanity. Tears. Nothing was cute enough to cover up this disaster, not even my cute boots.
After a day or two, the swelling went down enough to try on the flipper. It was uncomfortable and gave me a bit of a spitty lisp, but I was ever so thankful to not have a huge gap in my front teeth while my bone grew to accept the titanium screw drilled into my skull. I was told not to eat or sleep in the tooth-holder-flipper-device. Eventually, my vanity even waned enough to not wear it when I was home alone. But I became careless and let me guard down at the wrong moment.
That’s when the UPS guy got involved.
My husband was gone, the kids and I were at home doing our thing for the morning (homeschool, chores, etc.). I was vacuuming and heard a knock at the door. Some people would have just ignored the knock, but me, being the semi-extroverted, package-loving person I am, I NEVER let the delivery people just leave things on the porch. I kicked off the vacuum and opened the door with a huge “you just brought me a package” smile. Poor guy. Immediately his eyes became the size of the softball that hit me in the face in the first place. I gasped and closed my backwoods mouth. He acted like whatever he just saw was totally normal. I signed for the package, avoided all eye-contact, grunted a strange sound that was supposed to be “thank you” and bolted.
I tell myself that the reason that UPS guy has a new route isn’t for fear of seeing my spacious smile, but I doubt that’s true. I changed him. He changed me.