Relearning to speak

braces Today, I sat with 14 twelve-year-olds in teeny chairs, reading Cosmo for Teens.

I was in the waiting room of Cooper Callaway, an orthodontist who specializes in giving young people beautiful smiles.

Talk about feeling out of place.  I was the only kid with buck teeth and gray hair!  Their parents kept glancing at me, thinking I was waiting for a grandchild, or God forbid, a great-grandchild, to emerge from the treatment rooms.

Then, the nurse called my name.  “Miss Emily,” we are ready for you now.  When did I graduate from being Emily Braddock Jones to “Miss Emily.”  I felt like “Miss Kitty” in Gunsmoke without her gun.

I made a small curtsy with as much dignity as I could muster, and waltzed back to get my braces.

This was a huge decision for me, but when Cooper informed me that my front tooth was heading south – depending on which way I was facing – it was time for radical treatment. My teeth have been moving like a slow tango for several decades, to the point my smile looks like a badly formed ear of corn.

Cooper assures me I will have the smile of a teenager in a year.   Lord, I hope I live that long.  So we installed the software – Invisalines, I think they are called. It’s not so bad except I can’t speak very clearly.

He gave me a passage to repeat out loud three times a day, until no one notices I have a speech impediment.

“When the sunlight strikes raindrops in the air, they act like a prisms and form a rainbow.”

It goes on, but that first sentence sounded like this:  When the thunlight thrikes raindroths in the air, they act like a prithems and thorm a rainbow.”


My friend Margaret Ann, got braces last month.  She was very happy with them until she went to Walmart and couldn’t find her favorite brand of pickles.

She searched and searched, then marched up to the check-out clerk and inquired “Where are your “Clouthen Pithels.”  After repeating it several times, someone called the manager and they told her they don’t carry fabric anymore.

All she wanted was her Klausen Pickles.

But you wait, Margaret Ann and I will be smiling “way big” a few months from now.

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