Monday, May 03, 2004

Go ahead. Smile.

There I was, minding my own business, sitting around waiting to turn forty when the mailman arrived with a package just for me.

"Woo-hoo!" I said. "A package just for me."

"People don't say Woo-hoo nearly enough any more," the postman said.

Oops. I thought I was only thinking Woo-hoo.

I ran in the house, waving my package around wildly while doing a little I-got-a-package-and-you-don't dance in front of my nine-year-old son. Apparently turning forty has not put a damper on my immaturity.

"What is it?" asked my son.

"Why son, I see by the return address that it is from my Mother," I said. "It must be a birthday present!" And then I added just one more Woo-hoo for good measure.

I held the package up and shook it close to my ear. "What in the world could it be?" I wondered. As it was from my Mother, I knew it could be anything from 1 carat diamond earrings she bought on sale at Sam's to a goldfish.

My mother is a self-described flashy-busy person. She enjoyed the bling-bling before there was a word for it. If it's shiny, or over-priced or the biggest there is, she must own it immediately. Money is no object. Not because she is independently wealthy, but because she enjoys spending it. No one could ever accuse Mother of being cheap.

She has purses big enough to carry televisions in that cost more to purchase than I paid for either of my children. Naturally they have little LV's all over them because what's the sense in paying an ungodly amount of money for something if no one knows you paid an ungodly amount of money for it? That would just be wasteful.

She buys perfume by the half ounce that smells so good I really think people standing next to her often forget what it is they were talking about. In contrast, I search the clearance aisles at Wal-Mart for the half-priced jug-o-toilet-water... and then I'll only buy it if I have a coupon. And even if I have a coupon, I'll wait until I find a place that will double it.

She orders new convertibles without ever having seen them because she thinks they'll match her hair and because the sales guy tells her it has an awesome sub-woofer. (By the way, I'm fairly certain that she'd never before heard the word sub-woofer and possibly even thought it was a dog that could swim underwater.) I drive a car that my son calls a Bogus and will likely drive it until it qualifies for an antique tag.

In short, my Mother is larger than life and the very definition of the gay-coined word "fabulous". I wish I had the nerve to be like her, but sadly her flamboyant gene skipped a generation. I realized however that it had landed squarely in my daughter when she was three and asked for a feather boa and a sequined headband.

So there I am, shaking my package and dancing around while visions of shiny, over-priced things danced in my head. Finally, unable to contain my excitement a moment longer, I ripped it open. My very first fortieth birthday present fell on my lap.

Mother had sent me Crest White Strips, three packages of Simply White, two tubes of whitening toothpaste and a Spin Brush. It looked like I'd just knocked over a dentist's office.

Apparently she felt my oral hygiene routine was severely lacking in the tooth whitening department and my previous tooth-bleaching efforts not nearly as vigorous as they could have been. Had it come from anyone but Mother, I might have been slightly offended.

My son softly patted my back and asked, "Are you sad that you got toothpaste for your birthday, Mom?" I think he was secretly mocking my premature Woo-hoo dance.

I wasn't sad. My Mother knows me well enough to know that although I might like to purchase all these wonderful home bleaching aids, I would never spend the money on them myself. My kids selfishly prefer food over my desire to have a bright smile. Truth be told, they probably would have preferred college over my make-up and hair dye spending, but that ship has sailed. There are some things a woman can't live without... no matter what. And I'm sure they can find work at a good gas station someday.

I spent that night in the bathroom cleaning and brushing and flossing and whitening until my gums were sore. By gosh, maybe I am forty, but I'm going to have the smile of a twenty-year-old. With as much tooth bleach as Mother sent, my plan is to achieve such a level of brightness that when I smile your eyes are drawn upward toward my mouth and away from other problem areas. I'm guessing that by the time I'm done, I'll actually be able to wear a bikini again... just as long as I smile when I wear it.

So I got Crest for my birthday? So what? Not only do I have the prettiest smile in the neighborhood, so does everyone in my house. Even my cat finally has the confidence he needed to smile again. (I was bored one night and noticed that every time he laughed, he put his paw over his mouth.)

Next year I'm hoping for deodorant.

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