Turn your head when you smile


My colleague finishes his column with a delicious, tasty recipe for a good meal and adds quite a bit of flavor to his witty manner.

Maybe I can draw a picture in your mind of a tasty, spicy Mexican dish. This will surely add a little flavor to this article.

Your mouth will sizzle and you’ll want to shout, “Caliente, caliente … que te quemas! Ola!”

Do you remember me telling you about the time Al and I were invited to an elaborate banquet in California a couple years ago? We were our daughter’s guests, and we needed to be on our best behavior.

Fat chance that would ever happen.

The night before, we were at the dining room table and Al ate his tooth.

Yes, ate his tooth.

Al said, “I must have eaten my tooth, it’s gone.”

The artist in me said, “Give me your plate. Let me look at it. Not your dinner plate — but your partial plate.”

After the family had a good laugh, we discussed various ways we could make that black hole go away.  I then engaged one of my talents: I made a tooth for him. I took pearl white fingernail polish and painted a tooth on his plate.

He went to the banquet with a painted tooth.

I told him, “Don’t smile. If you have to smile, turn your head, no one will be the wiser.”

He made it through the banquet. When he got back to Albuquerque, he went to the dentist and had a tooth put into the empty spot.

All was well until it fell out again.

Al’s brother, David, told him he needed to get his tooth fixed.

Al said, “It’s on the list to do; new tires for the car are first before winter.”

Meanwhile, Al’s brother has been wining and dining his lovelies in Mexico. He has met the rich and famous there.  One of them is a reputable dentist, who has a chain of dentist offices in Columbus, Mexico.

David called Al, “Get down to Albuquerque, I’m taking you to Mexico to get a new set of teeth.”

I had my doubts. I would rather have him fall into my hands as an artist, than a dentist in Mexico. I had at least painted the tooth white. No telling what they might do to my Sweet Al. He might come back with a grill on his teeth, like Lil John. He might come back with Elvis on black velvet, or little red and orange paper flowers painted on his partial plate. They can be very creative in Mexico. You just never know how colorful they might get.

I could see it:  My Sweet Al would come home singing La Cucharacha. On a side note, did you know the song is about a cockroach that had lost one of its six legs and is struggling to walk with the remaining five. A “cockroach” adds a morsel of flavor to this delicious picture.

Back to my story.

When Al got back to the states, he called. I asked him what his teeth looked like.

He said, “Oh they’re pretty, and really white.”

I got the picture: a flashing set of white teeth that sparkle. With a little tanning, he’ll be on Dancing with the Stars. He can hold a rose between those pearly whites and dance the Mexican Hat Dance with Cheryl Burke.

Or, better than that, he will be eating what he loves — hot, hot chili. His new teeth will be spitting fire as he chomps down on his favorite meal, which is any kind of Mexican food that is en caliente.

After this article, I hope he doesn’t leave me for a senorita who will make him homemade flour tortillas and enchiladas … and love his pearly whites.

Final brushstroke: Al’s trying a new Mexican plate. I had to warn him: “If you smile, turn your head — your teeth will surely blind someone.”

Artist’s quote

“Welcome every morning with a smile. Look on the new day as another special gift from your Creator, another golden opportunity.” — Og Mandino.

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This story was posted on December 2, 2013.