Saving My Parts: Part 1

Oh the Shark BitesTHE TEETH

It’s a good thing I’m retired because trying to save my parts is becoming a full time job. There’s the teeth. More dentist appointments, cleaning and x-rays. Brushing and flossing-using a tiny brush to get under the three bridges I’m sporting. I keep floss in the glove compartment so at a stoplight I can make use of the time, otherwise wasted.  When the light turns green I just let it hang there till the next red light where I can finish the job. Because my windows are slightly tinted I feel sure no one could possibly notice.

Remembering my old Uncle Ollie’s teeth frightens me into taking better care of the ones I have left. I certainly don’t want to end up with horse teeth like his. They were long with receding gums and  each one was stained a dirty yellow. His mouth was always open as he breathed noticeably in and out. A repugnant, sweet odor filled the air around him, making me keep my distance.


Several years ago it became the rage to peroxide your teeth. Your dentist could do it for a handsome sum of $250. It was even encouraged. My friend Kit, who’s my age, said her dentist was after her to get her teeth whitened. It would make her “look younger.”  After several persistent discussions on his part, she finally said, “If I get white, sparkling teeth so I can look much younger, what can you do about all these wrinkles?”

Then at my salon I started hearing the hair stylists and their assistants stressing over how white or not so white their teeth were. They’d go over to a huge mirror and make a big sneer, inspecting each tooth for signs of yellow. I thought this was insane.

Late that summer several of us were car camping at a trailhead in the Colorado Rockies. The next morning we were standing around the Coleman stove sipping French roast coffee and discussing the ensuing hike. I suddenly became aware that we all had those stained, yellow teeth. Since I had known everybody for at least 30 years, I guess the yellowing had been coming on gradually. I just hadn’t noticed.

As soon as I got back to civilization I went straight to Walgreens, bought those strips, folded them over my teeth, clenched my jaw and drifted off to sleep. I did this for 14 days, the uppers first, to see if it really worked- and it did- and then another two week regimen for the lowers.

I now have pearly white teeth with plenty of wrinkles.


Ridicule Drove Me to the Razor


Six years after I had given up shaving my legs and pitching the razor, I started dating Alan. He had a wispy disorderly beard and a sparse ponytail. Being a graduate of Columbia in business administration and an executive in New York City, he had been used to wearing Brooks Brothers Suits, conservative ties and wing tipped shoes. By moving up the corporate ladder he missed the whole 60’s hippy culture. Being a Mensa scholar doesn’t guarantee one is up on the latest.

At the same time I had been living in Berkeley, a few blocks from Peoples’ Park, experiencing the student protests, the Oakland cops and the National Guard cordoning off streets making it impossible to get home from work.

In the early 1970’s he dropped out, moved to New Mexico and tried out a less prosperous life style. In ’74  I moved to New Mexico to get away from the Bay Area fog and the mobs clogging the freeways in route to the Sierras every weekend.

We originally met at Sierra Club traveling in a van to Lake Powell where the Park Service was holding a hearing on land use issues. His scraggly beard and ponytail and my hairy legs and armpits caused an attraction that lasted for some time. When he was over being a late blooming hippy and needing a few more toys, he shaved off the beard, got a haircut and found a respectable job running YCC camps.

It was then I started giving some thought to those hairy legs of mine. One day in July-it was 99 degrees- I was browsing in a fabric store looking at material for a new blouse that would match the shorts I was wearing. A little girl walking past me, looked down and pointed to my legs and said in a rather loud voice, “Mommy, Mommy. Look at her hairy legs!” That did it. It was time. I bought a Gillette razor, went home and started shaving. After completing leg number one, I somehow wasn’t ready, phychologically, to complete the task. Purging my calves of that soft, sensual feeling was hard to give up. So I went a couple more weeks before I denuded the left leg.

Now days at 66 I don’t care so much about shaving my legs. Bending over in the shower for that amount of time or swinging my leg up into the bathroom sink makes my back cranky. And afterwards the skin feels uncomfortable, though a good amount of lotion can help. I feel I can go a few more days without shaving-maybe a week or so-before it’s too noticeable.

Besides, who’s looking anyway.