I drew a blank. Wasn't this supposed to be about what I didn't like? "Um, the shade of my lipstick?" He nodded encouragingly. I tried again: "That it's friendly?"

He recommended bonding my gap—building up my front teeth using layers of resin hardened with ultraviolet light. It's not as permanent as, say, veneers (at best it lasts ten years), but at $700 per tooth, it's less than half the cost.

"I can do a quick temporary, if you'd like," he offered. I held up a mirror while he brushed a pastelike substance onto my teeth. Five slightly maple-tasting minutes later, he took another snapshot. He even digitally whitened them a little. No question, my teeth looked much better. They looked...normal. What they did not look like, however, was mine. And I couldn't decide whether that was an improvement.

I went home and spent the afternoon alternately dashing to the mirror and poring over the before and after photos. Did I like the look? Was it me?

When my husband walked in the door, I grinned at him. "Notice anything?"

He looked me up and down. "You cut your hair?"

"No." I smiled wider.

"New shoes?"


He squinted at my mouth. "What did you do to your teeth?"

I turned my head side to side. "Like it?"

He stared for a moment. "I don't know," he said dubiously.

I popped the resin out. "It's just temporary."

He looked relieved. "Good," he said. "I like your little gappy teeth. They've got personality."

I smiled. And this time my smile was authentic: uneven, gappy, and stained, but mine. Honestly? I thought I'd go for the bonding. I assumed I'd look better with normal teeth, and $1,400 wasn't such an astronomical sum to pay for that privilege. It turns out, though, that my teeth are a trademark, one of those necessary imperfections that makes a person unique. And I'm content with that.

I just wish I could say the same about my drooping eyelids.

Peggy Orenstein is the author of the memoir Waiting for Daisy (Bloomsbury).


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