Brush, spit, Rinse. It’s instilled in our daily agendas even before the “through the bunny hole” tying of the shoes. As children we are taught how important it is to take care of our teeth. We’re bribed with the fact that they’ll be quarters waiting under our pillows if we follow the routine every morning and every night. A healthy check-up at the dentist ensures a reward of a trinket from the treasure box. For some it might also mean grabbing a handful of the free toothpaste samples in the bathroom. I believe there’s a reason why care of teeth is emphasized so early on. The smile is important, it holds power. It is a basic treasure that tends to go unacknowledged.
It is the simplicity of the smile that seduces me to pay tribute. It’s the little boys’ reaction to the sounds of the ice cream truck, the response when two friends reunite, the moments that make the corners of our mouths curve up automatically. It’s the involuntary gesture that comes with moments of bliss.
There is nothing better than seeing an elderly person smile. I find myself smiling when I see someone five times my age flaunting one. Maybe it’s because the cute wrinkles that bunch up on top of each other, or maybe because I know they’re sporting a fantastic pair of dentures. However, I think it’s the fact that they have gone through the majority of their lives and still have plenty of reasons left to smile. A couple of days ago I took my routine trip to Starbucks to get my same old boring drink that they continue to mess up every time. I had just taken a sip of my bland beverage that they had failed to meet my expectation of ‘extra sweet’ when my eyes locked on an elderly couple seated at a table-for-two by the window. Their conversation was minimum, maybe even absent altogether, but they were just sitting there looking at each other. Looking at each other and smiling. It made me envy them. It made me not so scared of growing up, and in a weird way, made me realize that maybe getting old wasn’t so bad. Who would have thought that my initial expectations of a refreshing latte would have been satisfied by a scene that restored my faith of the future.
I believe that everyone was given a smile for a reason. It could just be so that cosmetic dentists can rake it in, but I have faith that it’s because they hold power. They may only make someone’s day a little better, they may only brighten up a photograph, but no matter the way you look at them- our world would be almost meaningless without them. Laughter would be gypped of its contagious effect, and happiness would not be revealed. So let’s take time to praise Crest and Rembrant for their contribution to society. We owe it to them to brush religiously and flaunt it.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.