I remember when I was a kid, probably in 2nd grade, my friends and me decided to figure out who had the prettiest mom.
The four of us marched off together to each kid's home, making his mom stand still while we studied her head.
Then we got off somewhere private and took a vote.
Each mom got one vote.
I just knew my mom, with her friendly smile and her chestnut hair up in a French bun, was the prettiest and that my friends were nuts or scared. Mrs. Maslanski across the street was the sexiest mom, but that's a whole 'nother story.
Every once in a while I would notice my mom had a gold filling in the middle corner of one of her front big teeth. It was a shiny gold triangle that took up about a quarter of that tooth. Even as a child I knew the nice thing was not to ask about it. It was just one of those things nobody mentioned. I liked how nice and considerate my family and me were about it.
Heck, for years they asked me every morning at breakfast if I wet the bed. That would have been a nice one to forget about it.
Anyway, twenty years rolls by and one day I noticed the gold filling was gone. It looked like a regular whole tooth. Now I could ask what the story was without embarrassing her. Somehow I mentioned that her tooth looked very nice, which it did. She happily told me she had the gold replaced with porcelain that matched the natural tooth color. It was invisible, and I told her so.
I asked her what had happened to that tooth. She gave me a funny look, as if she were deciding something by sizing me up.
She started to say "You probably don't remember but..." and as she talked I did remember an odd little memory that I had thought of many times, but it never did make sense. It was a sunny afternoon when I was around four years old and I was home alone with my mom. She was taking a nap like she tried to do every afternoon, with her elbow covering her eyes. Like Gloria Swanson swooning.
Well, this afternoon nothing was on TV so I went to tell her so. She never wanted to wake up, so I thought I should do something different.
I saw a jar of cold creme on a shelf behind her head. Aha! An idea for an experiment came to me.
I picked up the heavy glass jar, held it about a foot above her face and let go.
That's pretty much the end of the memory I'd recalled many times over the years. It turns out right after that all Hell broke loose as my mom woke up trying to make sense of what had happened to her while comforting a confused little boy while she was in considerable pain.
I really hadn't made the connection between my experiment and her tooth. If I ever did, I forgot I chipped her tooth and she got a gold filling. It must have been hard to have that visible all those years when she smiled that pretty smile. And no wonder my mom is such a light sleeper.
The funny part of it is that all those years I thought I was being nice not to mention it to my mom and here it turned out everyone else, especially my mom, was being nice to me.
Copyright 2002 by Maxim Hurwicz.
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