On my seventh grade trip to Springfield, Steph Marshall turned to me unexpectedly and said, “You know, you’re much prettier when you smile.” Back then, “pretty” felt like a game with rules written in a language I couldn’t read, so when Steph said that, my brain just went, “Prettier, huh?!?” For the past decade since then, I’ve been walking around smiling like a maniac, all in the name of “pretty.” Boyfriends, friends, strangers, my dentist have all complimented me on my teeth, and even in the depths of my self-loathing, my smile has been the one thing I’ve never thought to hate about myself.
Yesterday, I busted it. I broke two of my front teeth. I broke my entire face. I have a fat lip and a black eye. I look like what would happen in Kylie Jenner decided to get real into meth.
I was on a date with this dude. He spent way too much money on me and kept on calling me a “pain in the ass” for saying, “No, let me finish,” when he continually interrupted me. At one point, he kissed me unexpectedly, and I just kept my eyes open and tried to make “I’m being held hostage” faces at strangers. So anyway, not good.
On the way home, I was cold AF, so I was walking really fast with my hands in my pockets when I tripped over my own feet. In slow motion, a felt myself tumbling towards the concrete. “Are you ok?” he said. I looked at my legs, covered in blood, and shook my head no. “What do you want to do?” he asked.
“I want to go home,” I said. He pulled me off the pavement, and we walked to his car. Once inside, I pulled down the mirror and saw my two front teeth, each cracked nearly in half, jagged and broken. I burst into tears.
“Aw, come on,” he said, “Let’s stop at Walgreens. I’ll get you ibuprofen or something.”
“No,” I said, “Just take me home.”
“This isn’t the worst thing that could’ve happened,” he said.
“Could you please just shut the fuck up?” I said.
“I know it doesn’t feel this way right now, but this is going to be a funny story for us one day,” he said.
I wanted to be like, “For us?!?! I’m never going to see you again,” but instead I said, “Didn’t I just say shut the fuck up?”
“Look, I’m really not trying to be an asshole. I’m trying to help you.”
“This isn’t the TIME for silver linings. My face is BROKEN. I’m never going to be pretty again.”
“You look great.”
“I look like a hockey player.”
He threw a bunch of his business cards in my bag and asked me to call him in the morning so he could help cover the dental costs (lmao what?). I ran into my apartment and cried as I washed the blood off my face. I laid in my bed and sobbed until I had the presence of mind to google what might happen to my busted up mouth.
I am going to be fine. There’s nothing about this situation that doesn’t suck, but it’ll be fine all the same. I’m sitting my bed pressing a bag of frozen mangoes wrapped in my Blackhawks tee shirt to my mouth, trying to convince myself that everything will turn out OK and that I won’t look like a beat up hockey player forever, that one day I’ll feel pretty and smiley again.
But for now? Maybe taking this as a sign from God that I should cool it on dating for awhile. I might go on like one more date once my face stops looking like it got hit by a train, but then that’s it.
Fuck this. Fuck this so hard.