The Gap

As far back as I can remember I have always taken myself too seriously. I have even taken parts of myself too seriously. I remember when I was in fourth or fifth grade I took my two front teeth way too seriously. Oh I can remember the horror as I looked into the bathroom mirror every morning at the two permanent teeth that had emerged from my gums. They were miles apart. Every morning I would wake up wide-eyed to see if my prayers had been answered. “Please let them make up and move closer together, ” I would pray. But alas, their answer was a repeated “no” and I felt a certain destiny - I would be likened to Erma Bombeck for the rest of my ill-fated life.

Now don’t get me wrong, I liked Erma. I would read her articles every week and laugh until I popped buttons. I thought she was really funny. But, I did not want to look like her. One morning taped to the bathroom mirror was an article she had written about her two crater spaced front teeth. I raced through the article until I had settled on the meaning that had subtly weaved its way through the humor: it was to love yourself the way you are, even if you could fit a number two pencil between the gap in your two front teeth and dangle it there. I decided to think about it for a while and finally decided that I was really going to be okay, even with crazy-gapped front teeth. It had an amazingly calming effect on me.

I did hear years later, however, that she had cosmetically reduced the gap between her teeth, making me wonder if it all wasn’t just a farce. Either way, I believed her words until high school when I forgot about that space. My teeth had miraculously moved together after all.

I learned so much through that gap. I learned not to rely so much on what I looked like on the outside but to try to be a better person on the inside. At least, I reasoned, that was something I would have more control over.