I’m probably misusing the term “parable” but I kind of don’t care.
When I was a kid, I had braces. My teeth were a hot mess, so on they went when I was about ten or so. I had a love/hate relationship with them, and a year and a half later, I got them off.
With my new freedom came…the retainer. So I guess “freedom” isn’t the word for it. I mean, I could eat peanuts and chew gum again to my little heart’s content, and instead of this:
|Let’s be fair…no one looks this good with metalmouth.
I looked like this:
But to hell with it, at least they weren’t braces!
I was told I had to wear the stupid thing all the time at first, 24/7, so I figured I’d like to at least like my new torture device. So when they came in to take the mold for it and they asked if I wanted glitter, of course I said yes! What twelve-year-old girl wouldn’t? But I did come away disappointed–they didn’t offer any colors. See, I really wanted a blue one. Even better would have been a sparkly blue one. Blue, with blue glitter. A friend of mine–just one friend, this was the mid-1990s when braces were becoming more mainstream–had a blue one, and I was…er…blue?…with jealousy, especially since I had to settle.
Truthfully, as much as I wanted one, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the blue one…I’d been picked on enough in school, and decided that since people would be seeing it (I had to take it out to eat), I should stick to something fairly neutral. No sense in giving the bullies more theoretical ammo. Pre-teen kids are assholes, by the way, and that was way more than enough to persuade me to suck it up and settle for something I was only “meh” about, not that I had much of a choice given what was available.
So I got my mouth-pink glittery retainer. I wore that damn thing religiously, even though I hated it and it made me feel like I was going to puke all the time. I never even lost it; never even accidentally–or maybe that should be “accidentally”?–threw it out on my lunch tray at school. Then I was finally given the green light to just wear it at night, and I looked forward to the day when I could wean myself off it for good and be “normal.”
That day never came.
I tried, but my teeth and jaw would ache like a sonovabitch if I didn’t wear it for more than one night, and it was actually a relief to put it back in. I also observed my peers not wearing theirs, and their teeth would migrate like retarded homing pigeons back to where they’d been before they had braces–and in some cases, they were actually worse-off. And there was no WAY I was going to let that happen. I’d suffered for beauty (and happy teeth, but mostly beauty), goddammit, and I wasn’t going to have wonky teeth just because.
Fast-forward years later (to 2011, actually), and I was still wearing the same pinky glittery thing. I’d taken great care of it; it was clean and crack-free, but loose after something like sixteen years. I’d always been complimented on my “bite” by my dentists and my teeth were good, but a visit to a recommended orthodontist confirmed it was time for a new one.
Molds were taken, and then the moment came–the one I’d been waiting for.
The color selection.
And you know what? I picked out a blue, sparkly retainer. I was a grown women, dammit, and I wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way of what I wanted. I was going do and get what made me happy.
So now I have one of these:
|Not a picture of my actual retainer. I wanted to respect its privacy.
So the moral of this whole convoluted story is that you should do what makes you happy, no matter what anyone thinks (unless it’s hurting yourself or someone else).
And I think we need to remember that more often.