My smile has always been my thing. Or at least, on the days when I feel like a hideous dwarf and want to throw on a pillowcase and belt it, it is the one thing I can look to and say, okay, that’s not too shabby. And since I’ve been in England, I can’t count how many people have remarked on my teeth. I’ve had a woman cross a room, and tell me she knew I was American purely by the shade and straightness of my pearly whites. And of course with some of my friends here, without fail, they are a subject of great ridicule. My American translation: pure unadulterated envy, let’s be honest.
I will never forget the time I had just arrived in England and one of these great teeth, (in the front no less) came loose on flight over. Alright alright, the tooth is fake. A shiny, perfect veneer warranted after a traumatic double root canal and implant surgery. But it looks damn good and I never claimed to be perfect.
So mere hours off the plane, I enter what was to be my new abode. There I was met with the disclosure that my new uber gregarious roommate was having a dinner party for eighteen - as you do apparently - in a kitchen that was 5x12. No joke. Don’t be confused, it was not a welcoming party for me, but instead a celebration for the Bank holiday. And to add to the amusement, I currently looked like a member of some Appalachian folk band. Okay, so I’d have to use my personality to win people over, not my smile.
So hours later, having stuffed my tooth tenuously back in it’s place, I found myself packed around a table of public school boys (U.S equivalent: think New England prep school vibe), the flavor of the evening apparently, and the kitchen is starting to resemble a late night homo-erotic raucous in the dormitory.
To my surprise, the evening quickly rolled into a blur of Dolly Parton tunes (go figure??) and a variety of delinquent table games. The clear winner to my jetlagged befuddlement – was ‘pass the business card’ or ’Suck and Blow’ as it was affectionately called. Who the hell needs intellectual conversation about social issues or world events when you’ve got ‘Suck and Blow.’ The idea: you pass it to your neighbor by sucking and blowing respectively; if it drops, you accidentally kiss. Well, hello limey [Perhaps parliament should try this]. My main worry...sucking, blowing, and losing my beautiful, and now very loose tooth in poncy boy’s mouth.
At this point, it suddenly dawned on me that I was in my 30’s and I was sucking on a business card for an airport car service across from some guy in an expensive shirt who smelled like cheap cider. Hey, but I’m in England - the most civilized country on earth, so what if they play games that resemble a 13 year old’s first slumber party. That said, as soon as the dollar bill made an appearance (get your mind out of the class A gutter) - apparently the business card wasn’t challenging enough - I stood up and planned my escape.
Call me a teetotal spoiled sport, but it is common knowledge, or so I thought, that most dollar bills have traces of fecal matter on them. Apparently this fact was lost on the room - and they say the American education system is lacking. Thankfully my English mother called just as I was summoned to ‘suck,’ and my tooth had officially dislodged itself, leaving a huge gaping hole in my mouth. Fine, perhaps now I look typically American.
‘How’s it to be in England, sweetheart’. I gazed around the smoky room of twenty something’s without a care in the world, as Dolly swooned in the background, ‘you know Mom, it doesn’t suck’.