The curious case of an orthodontist, Kid-Ginger, and fungus

20 Feb

Puberty is rough.  Orthodontists are scam artists.  My mother is a sadist.

In 1996 these three truths collided to create the perfect storm.

At 14, I looked like this:

Simultaneously, my 10 year old bro looked like this:

The cool kids on the block, we were not.

What we lacked in trend-setting however, we made up for in mediocrity.

Naturally, neither of us ever wore our headgear.

And yes Mom, I know you are reading this and already getting irritated that you lost that battle, but I ask you to look at those two faces and feel pride.

Can’t do it, can you?

Anyway, let’s get back to the story.

As a result of never wearing our headgear, neither of our overbites were improving.  I was in the onset of my teenage rebellious hayday so this did not bother me.

Kid-Ginger however, had other problems.

At only 10, he was still anxious to please my parents and all figures of authority.  Every month on the night before our visit to the orthodontist, he’d strap the shiny apparatus into place and hope against all odds that one night of donning the robotic creation would fix his face.

Deep down however, he knew this wouldn’t work and so he’d get nervous.  Pacing around his room, he was always trying to think of ways to alleviate the oncoming argument between himself, the orthodontist, and our parents.

Nothing ever worked.  Every month, the morning would arrive, and we’d troop into the appointment like lambs to the slaughter.

Not one for privacy, this particular orthodontist had one giant room with several dental chairs in a row.  It was a Fordistic haven for the humiliation of  American youth and their teeth.

Kid-Ginger and I were usually seated next to one another.

It was during one such morning while I waited for the assistant to come and hook my head up to the Matrix and disassemble my mouth; that I chose to glance over at what was happening on my little bro’s end.

The orthodontist was just leaning over to take a look in Kid-Ginger’s open mouth.  Sweat gathering on the little guys forehead, he looked up in fear as Dr. Iago’s face twisted into pure disgust and he backed several steps away from my brother’s chair.

His eyes scanning his assistants in fear, he loudly announced:

“Someone get me the manual, we’ve got a situation here.”

Then, cautiously re-approaching the redhead’s chair he took another repulsed glance and said:

“Son, is that hurting you?  How long has THAT been growing in your mouth?”

Kid-Ginger’s cheeks now the color of beets, he shook his head nervously and asked:

“how long has what, is this about the headgear, I don’t know, I wear it, well I try to wear it, what is happening in my mouth?!”

My dental chair at this point had gone from seat of doom to the best seat in the house as I watched this melodrama unfold.

“Kid, your tongue is black.  Did you eat licorice for breakfast?  Do you brush your teeth? Where is that darn manual Peggy!!!”

(Peggy was the assistant I had been awaiting, so her scramble to locate the manual containing all mouth diseases did not bother me in the slightest)

Kid-Ginger, rapidly approaching black-out mode shook his feet and insisted he had not eaten anything for breakfast because he had been too nervous.

By this point all of the assistants were peering into my brother’s mouth in order to identify the problem.

Each of them looked horrified.

Booming over the intercom I suddenly heard the words:

“Would the father of Kid-Ginger please come into the workroom immediately please.  The father of Kid-Ginger.”

Enter in one sarcastic lawyer of a father.  My father.

“Sir, we need to show you the situation that is your son’s mouth.  I’m afraid we can’t work on him today.  Until we identify the fungus, we can’t associate our tools with it.  As of right now, it appears to be something called Black Hairy Tongue.”

I watched unblinkingly as my father glanced into his youngest offspring’s mouth.  His own jaw fell open, he stopped breathing, and he demanded of my brother:

“What in Gods name have you been eating?  Good lord do you ever brush your teeth?  Son, your tongue is absolutely black.  How long has it been like that?!?! What do you mean you haven’t noticed?  How on Earth can you possibly not have noticed?!?!? How many times do I have to tell you to USE YOUR HEAD?!?!”

The room went silent.

All eyes fixed on Kid-Ginger as he stared at my father like a deer in headlights.


Slight ruffle of pages as the various assistants found new diseases in the manual and peered nervously into the gaping hole in my brother’s face. Shaking their heads no, the shuffling of pages continued.

More silence.

Finally, my father ordered the two of us to the car.  On the ride home, he continued to question my silently shaking brother.  Staring out the window in sheer terror, it appeared Kid-Ginger had gone mute.

Ten minutes passed.  Tension in the vehicle was high.

Then finally, the trembling voice of one 10 year old redhead announced:

“Well, I did drink a lot of Pepto Bismol last night, I was so nervous about today”

My father turned his head and stared at his son in disbelief.

“You were so nervous about the appointment you drank that stuff?  You hate that stuff.”

“I know Dad, but I didn’t know what else to do”

Later that evening it was discovered via prehistoric internet searching that Pepto Bismol can turn your tongue black if drunk in excess.

Turns out Kid-Ginger never had a fungus after all.  By dinnertime, he was fine.

My stomach was not so great though.

Having laughed so hard through the entire ordeal, my tummy ached for days.


27 Responses to “The curious case of an orthodontist, Kid-Ginger, and fungus”

  1. TheIdiotSpeaketh February 22, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    You must be my niece…cause me and your father have to be brothers! This is sooooo something that would have happened to me! The kid has had orthodontic gear for about 20 of the 14 years of his life and I often hear the Orthodontist peering into his mouth and then muttering… “My Dear God…what is THAT?”………. Love the drawings! So great to have you back blogging again!! 🙂

    • wanderingmenace February 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

      Yes I am sure you and my father would have many a tale to swap regarding your offspring.
      Thanks! Glad to be back!

  2. Allison February 23, 2011 at 2:03 am #

    That’s too funny. I also had headgear – which I did wear, but hated. I remember throwing it on the floor and crying to my mom that I didn’t want to wear it.

    • wanderingmenace February 23, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

      It is absolutely the most ridiculous thing to expect children to wear. When we moved to France, the French orthodontist told my mother the only kids he bothers to assign headgear to are Asian because they are the only ones who will actually wear it.
      Kid-ginger was in braces forever, he went to college with them on, which he reminded me of yesterday.
      Good times.

  3. Bob February 23, 2011 at 2:15 am #

    LMAO Crazy. So he had a case of the Pepto tongue. Those poor dentists must have gone white thinking of the lawsuits heading their way.

    • wanderingmenace February 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

      Yea. As an older sister I can tell you there is no greater pleasure in this world than hearing a professional announce to a room of children that your little brother has something called Black Hairy Tongue Disease.

      Only to discover it was Pepto Tongue.
      Poor kid, scarred for life.
      Also, this should tell you something about his stress level.

  4. chickens consigliere February 23, 2011 at 3:21 am #

    That may be the best blog posting I have ever read. And that’s saying a lot because I just read a hilarious one about ferrets and may have said the same thing over there. But this one was better. Also I did not know that about pb, but a devious plan is coagulating in my head…

    • wanderingmenace February 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

      That may be the greatest compliment I have ever received. Especially because I am rarely compared to ferrets (ok, like twice), and even then, I’ve certainly never come out on top in the comparison. So thank you CluckHead, thank you.

      Plans coagulating in your head are always a good idea, so I can’t wait to see where this is going…

  5. singlegirlie February 23, 2011 at 4:13 am #

    Ewww! I wonder what in the Pepto Bismol turns your tongue black? I have a strange curiosity for the science of these things.

  6. Man-shopper February 23, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    I find it baffling that I still haven’t met your brother.

    I wonder if we could get him to overdose on pepto bismol again.

    • wanderingmenace February 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

      Highly unlikely Shopper, though I agree that it is def time you met the kid.
      Everytime he and I meet each other’s friends, after about five minutes they always say:
      ‘oh yea…. I see it now. You two are definitely related’
      We don’t look alike, but the way we speak is creepily alike, we should probably be cast in a movie to show off this talent.
      Yes, that’s right.
      I said talent.

  7. Gnetch February 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Maybe I should slip a few Pepto-Bismols in my brother’s mouth when he’s asleep. I really want to scare the heck out of him.

    • wanderingmenace February 23, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

      well make sure you read that article I linked above to singlegirlie. Cause apparantly the key is to drink it or eat the tablets after you’ve eaten something with sulfur in it. I guess that’s why it doesn’t happen all of the time.
      Who knew.
      Also, sulfur? I’m gonna have to talk to Manshopper about this so she can explain the science behind that to me.
      Or my father, as I suspect he will be popping into this section in a moment.

  8. Sandy February 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    I will not even tell you what my doctor thought my ‘pepto tongue’ was caused by…but he did ask me if I was a lesbian…Dale was not amused

    • wanderingmenace February 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

      Oh Sandy.

      The part about this comment that makes me happy is knowing that at some point it is likely that Courtney will pop in here.
      I look forward to that conversation.

      I didn’t realize you had also suffered from the black tongue disease. I never actually saw what it looked like. Spent most of the day just cracking up.

      • Courtney February 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

        Great, Mom. Thanks for sharing.

        Awesome post, Ry. I love the ones I can completely picture in my head – and this is definitely one of them. Poor, Ginger. I wonder how he did when he had to go back.

  9. apieceofthepiehole February 23, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Hilarious! Can you say the dentist was sweating through the white coat worried about a lawsuit. Gotta love the pink chalky stuff! Great post!

    • wanderingmenace February 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

      I actually think my brother was most concerned about being sued by his own father for distress and emotional damage.

  10. Kid-Ginger February 23, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Im just really glad that you decided to share the absolute truth about the sitch…..otherwise bloggers united would picture this ginger with a black hairy tongue for life….awesome. Good stuff sista!!

    • wanderingmenace February 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

      Well the world needs to know KG, I’m not sure why exactly, but the world needs to know.

  11. geekhiker February 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    I rarely, rarely find myself wishing that I’d had siblings as a kid, but the idea of the sheer, twisted joy you got out of the whole situation kinda makes me wish I did…

    • wanderingmenace February 23, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

      I had tears streaming down my face in the back of the car as he and my father assessed the situation.
      A lot of siblings fight a ton, but Kid-Ginger and I have always just cracked each other up.

  12. Your Father February 24, 2011 at 5:31 am #

    That certainly was the most eventful in the endless series of orthodontist lectures to the effect that my offspring were incapable of doing complicated tasks – such as wearing headgear for a known period of time each day.

    He ejected us from the office faster than a biblical town would have stoned lepers – for God’s sake, he saw HUNDREDS of squirming kids a day and 98% of them hadn’t been wearing their headgear: surely he must have seen something like that before. Guess not. Though thinking about it, if there was someone who could innocently create a wave of panic in a suburban dental clinic it would be KG!

  13. subWOW March 3, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    Awww. I feel so sorry for your poor brother. That said, great rendition of the medieval torture device. BUT you have straight pearly teeth now, right? See? Call your dad and thank him right now!

  14. russ September 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    Oh joy…the aftermath of a sadist with plyers.
    marvellous! I got a taste for liquid morphine, which, after a while, I kicked.
    Also got a taste for alcohol. Oh dear! Nope, didn’t give THAT up.
    Very p*ssed off, though…still have dubious British teeth.
    Three years of unwelcome pain, and what? Still, or possibly worse, where I started
    from. Not the happiest camper in the world…..


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