The man who hated my teeth

Yesterday I posted my thoughts about noticing the world and how the simple act of being alert to anything that moves you, in any way, is worth recording in your writer’s notebook. You never know what the germ of an idea may become.

At a dinner party recently, where everyone coincidentally had lovely teeth, I was moved to recall a time, many years ago, where a friend of a friend, at best an acquaintance to me, told me I should keep my mouth shut so people didn’t have to look at my teeth. Now, obviously, this guy was an absolute troll, in the original sense of the word. A nasty, little creature with no care for how his words might affect me. He may’ve even taken delight in criticising me. Who knows?

But now, about 15 years later, that moment has returned to the forefront of my mind and I’ve felt compelled to write about it. The poem did not go in the direction I imagined it would, in fact, nasty-teeth man is just a footnote in the poem that turned out to be about someone else altogether. That’s how writing goes! This may not be the last time I feel compelled to write about teeth-man, and this is only the first draft of this poem. So there is plenty of work to do and countless other writing journeys I could take with this one idea.

But for now, here’s the first draft of ‘The Man Who Hated My Teeth’.

Drifting along the Adriatic

Young, excited, attracted

Like a movie we lay on the deck

And gazed at the stars

We talked about everything

You said you wanted a big family

That didn’t scare me

I imagined it. Us.

Entwined and in love

On we sailed

Some days you spent with me

Some nights I spent with you

We parted in Split.

Appropriately

I returned home

Waiting daily for the beep of my phone

That came from time to time

You returned home

Our reunion, for me, was everything

Your face, your smile

Your eyes that seemed to drink me up

I was so ready for us

You put your arms around me

Pulled me to you

I lifted my face

And you kissed my cheek

Croatia had been great

Europe enthralling

But now you were home

It was time

To give

Your relationship

Another chance

Deep breath. I smiled

And swallowed

And wished you every good thing

So friends we were

And so it was

In time you left your girlfriend

She wasn’t right after all

But I was still there

Still feeling

Tuesdays became ours

Date nights

Movie nights

Lines blurred again

But never enough for you

Or me

I knew some of your friends

You knew some of mine

At a dive bar in St. Kilda

A friend of yours, unknown to me

Leaned in and said

You should keep your mouth closed

Your teeth are awful

I looked at you

Into those eyes

Could you see my humiliation?

I didn’t smile again that night

Even now I catch myself

Blissfully enjoying a moment

With my hand covering my mouth

Fifteen

Years

Later

I have kids

You do too

Our friendship exists online now

My teeth as they always were

I wish you every good thing

Well now that’s left me feeling a bit sentimental. I think I need a cup of tea. Until tomorrow friends xx

2 thoughts on “The man who hated my teeth

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