Tag Archives: braces

Brace & Lace

While home for Christmas, I organised a few drinks for Stephen’s Night. I craved a night out, following days spent cooped up over Christmas. The night proved to be messy. We had a few (too many) before we left for town, where we had a few more.

By the time we were in the club, I was drunk. I was in the company of my brother and his girlfriend, Melissa. I nudged Melissa and suggested we go for a dance. In my drunken state, I fancied myself some kind of Patrick Swayze.

“Another go,” I declared. “I’ll catch you better this time.”

Melissa took a few steps away from me and ran. I caught her clumsily. Patrick Swayze would turn in his grave at the idea of such an ungraceful tribute. Melissa collapsed on me. I lifted my head and felt unexpected resistance. I suddenly realised my face was stuck to Melissa’s arm. What the fuck? I thought.

Melissa wore a red dress with red lace sleeves. It seemed my braces had become entangled in the intricate patterned lace. I placed Melissa on the ground. She was in conversation with a bouncer who discouraged our Dirty Dancing performance. How the hell am I to disentangle myself?  While Melissa assured the bouncer we would vacate the dancefloor, my face was buried into her arm. I panicked. I gave Melissa’s sleeve a hard tug and broke free. We left the dancefloor.

“Eh, what were you two doing down there?” My brother asked. “People were laughing at you.”

Melissa laughed. I joined. I noticed a hole in the arm of her dress. I guessed it unlikely she’d notice since we were all pissed. I’ll save this story for tomorrow, I thought.

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Goals for 2011

Fuck resolutions. I don’t believe in them. Get yourself a pen and paper and set yourself some goals for the year. Goals are far more attainable and satisfactory since you can work through them and tick them off a list.

Here are some of mine:

  • Pass soddin’ exams!
    • I have been ‘doing’ my crappy tax exams for the last four years. ‘Doing’ entails sitting, failing, resitting, chickening out and passing. Enough! I am going to get them in 2011.
  • Sun holiday
    • Fuck culture! This year I am not doing cultural weekends away. I want to go on a sun holiday. I want to lie on a beach by day and kiss men by night. Sun, sea and sex awaits.
  • Have a passionate fling
    • I need to meet a man. I need to celebrate my youth and move on from the Great Break-Up of 2010. I don’t want a relationship. A fling, however, would be a treat.
  • Make a soufflé
    • The art of soufflé making has fascinated me. Is it really as difficult as people say? I want to master this skill and serve it to some friends.
  • Go on a second sun holiday
    • More sun, sea and sex, please.
  • Make more male friends
    • I love the many women in my life, but man if I have sit through one more conversation on detoxes, diets or weight gain/loss, I shall hit someone.
  • Stop biting my nails
    • It’s a disgusting habit. I want to stop. I shall try.
  • Acquire a hobby
    • Apart from blogging I don’t have a hobby as such. I need one. This one is vague for the moment.
  • Join a team
    • I’ve never been on a team of any kind. I think it would do me good. This again is vague. More research needed.
  • Have a fancy cocktail party
    • I am going to have a cocktail party in the apartment for my birthday. This is an easy one.
  • Do something creative using my hands
    • I want to learn carving or origami to stimulate the seldom used creative side of my brain.
  • Enroll in a Pilates instructor course
    • When I get my tax exams, I am going to become a Pilates instructor. ‘Nuff said.
  • Pay for braces
    • I am going to clear the balance of my braces by March 2011. No (expensive) clothes shopping or needless eating out for me until then.


 

Nip, Tuck, Straighten and Pluck

I hate my thighs and ass. When I put on weight I develop an ass that would give Beyoncé a run for her money. In my teens, I was tall and slender. Into my twenties, my subconscious prepared for a nuclear Winter by stockpiling lard in my thighs, hips and ass. I would kill for the silhouette of a male model as opposed to my shape, which resembles two or three models huddled together. Three or four years ago, I achieved a body I should have been proud of. I was lean – I had a flat stomach with good definition. My arms, shoulders and pecs filled a T-shirt nicely. My legs and thighs were solid. I obtained this physique by spending roughly ten hours a week in the gym, doing cardio, weight lifting and spinning. I calorie counted on a daily basis. My obsession reached its peak when I used an excel chart to graph my fat, protein and carbohydrate intake. I allowed myself treats now and again, compensating with an extra push during a workout. In my head it was all worthwhile; in my opinion I looked great. My friends disregarded my broad shoulders and bulging biceps, paying attention to my sunken eyes and ashen palor. Only when I regained weight did honest opinions emerge.

“I am putting on weight again,” I moaned to Joanne one day.

“You look great Stephen,” she comforted. “You were too thin!”

“Too thin? I looked great!”

“No, Stephen, you looked sick. You looked ill.” There was an unexpected firmness in her voice.

I was taken aback by Joanne’s comment. I was obsessive with weight loss yet I don’t feel I had an eating disorder. I question the reason for this distorted self-image. Advertising and media are often criticised for bombarding women with unrealistic portrayals of beauty, encouraging eating disorders. The same accusations can be made at male orientated media, perhaps to a lesser extent, since it traditionally did not focus so much on the male physique. Historically, actors such as Marlon Brando and Rock Hudson carried significant influence on the interpretation of male image in the 50s and 60s. Both actors – albeit through their portrayal in movies – appealed equally to men and women alike. Today’s portrayal of male and female beauty has more in common than ever. The portrayal of male beauty centres more on physical body – muscles and weight – than actual “manliness”. This is illustrated in men’s magazines that contain information on achieving the despairingly elusive washboard stomach. Countless men’s magazines boast secrets for the “killer abs”. In reality, a six-pack is achievable only by maintaining a relatively unhealthy body fat, rigorous approach to healthy eating and good genealogy. The facts are ignored by thousands of men who purchase these magazines on a regular basis.

I know many vain men. Gay men after all are perhaps the most narcissistic sub-category on Earth. However, increasing numbers of straight men are following suit in the amount of care paid towards their appearance. The modern portrayal of male beauty can be blamed for the advent of the metrosexual. David Beckham, undoubtedly the most famous metrosexual, was iconic for both his athletic ability and high ranking in the style stakes, during his hay day. His prowess on the football field reinforced his ability to be daring in his choice of attire. He popularised countless hair styles among teenagers around the world. Roll forward ten years and Beckham – and his modern equivalents – are role models for working-class teenagers. Cue the creation of the chav. The male chav, associated dress code and hairstyles, is a massive reinforcement to metrosexuality and an attack on the manly man of old.

As comfortable as I am discussing my own body-issues, I was surprised when one day Best-Friend and I openly discussed our personal hang ups with our appearance. Men – gay or straight – rarely do this. I recall mentioning how happy I am to have pursued orthodontic treatment. The conversation eventually turned to what we would change about our bodies, if we could.

“Once my braces come off, I’m getting laser whitening. Think Donny Osmond!”

Best-Friend admitted an insecurity, again prompting my turn.

“I am going to look into laser hair removal for my monobrow. I pluck so much I’m afraid a chunk of my face will one day come off.”

Following a discussion of cosmetic surgeries, it was revealed neither of us would consider anything more drastic than Botox. Walking through Stephen’s Green, I pointed to my crow’s feet and prominent frown lines on my forehead. I have no issue with age. I can’t wait to go grey. It just seems that for a certain amount of money I can pay to treat an insecurity. My once crooked teeth will be Hollywoodesque within two years. I can rid myself of a monobrow for €130. Should I develop a deep furrow, I can “fill” it, costing €300. For the first time in history cosmetic alteration is available to the public at large. Instead of dealing with insecurity we can simply spend to dispose of it. We do so because we can. Considering the proliferation of cosmetic treatments among the wider public, it’s no surprise increasing numbers of men invest in their appearance. At the height of the recession, Debenhams, London recently reported a doubling in the number of men availing of eyebrow – or “guybrow” – shaping. The Celtic Tiger was partly responsible for the expansion of the Grafton Barber franchise, a styling and grooming service offered in the guise of a traditional barber’s. Despite increasing sales of men’s hair straighteners in Europe, few men openly admit to owning one.  Society has progressed to allow man take pride in his appearance, only if he does so in a “manly” way. If he does it in a “pansy” way, he should keep it to himself.

EmBrace Campaign

On Saturday night, around two in morning in Four Flame Lane, I ducked and weaved through the crowd to gain access to the bar. While I waited for wanker-barman, a girl propped on a stool to my right caught my attention. She stared.

“Hi,” I said, acknowledging her gaze.

“You’re braces are so sexy,” she replied. I asked myself if this was an excuse to engage me in a conversation.

“Really? They are so bloody sore,” I replied in a depressive tone. I pulled down my lower lip to show her my lower-brace. “I got this bad boy last week. I can’t even chew at the moment”.

“It will be worth it in the end.”

“I keep telling myself this.” I forced a smile.

“I got mine taken off last month. Getting braces was the best thing I ever did. You won’t regret it”

“Show me!”

She smiled, pried her lips apart and flashed her recently acquired assets, turning her head from left to right.

“They’re really beautiful,” I complimented.

“Thanks,” she said, this time with a genuine smile.

“Have a great night!”

With a second smile, she turned and rejoined the conversation of her group.

It is no surprise Girl at the Bar noticed my braces as sharply as she did. Since embarking on my magical, wonderful trip down Orthodontistry Avenue, I see countless adult-brace-wearers every week. My “brace-dar” is more accurate than my gaydar. Even with atrocious eye-sight, I can spot an adult-brace-wearer at fifty feet. On an evening when I felt low, the exchange with Girl at the Bar perked me up, so much so I want to start the EmBrace Campaign. My EmBrace campaign is to encourage adult-brace-wearers to do just as the girl in Four Flame Lane did; give a little compliment to lift sagging spirits. I am going to do just this: When I spot an adult with braces – and it won’t be out of place for me to talk to them – I am going to ask about their treatment, how it is going and remind them that all this pain will be worth it in the end. A little encouragement is needed; while orthodontistry is a long and painful route, it is guaranteed to eventually leave you smiling.

Brace Yourself

I am a twenty seven year old, braces wearing adult. This is hard to embrace sometimes. My mates and I have shared many a giggle in my attempt to cope with my mouth-paraphernalia through humour. Over the past six weeks of having braces, I have encountered numerous highs and lows along the route that will lead to a perfect smile. Here is a list of some peaks and troughs:

Dribble; for the first week or two, I had problems with excess saliva. I dribbled on myself numerous times. I was like a stroke victim. Most mornings I continue to wake up in a pillow full of drool. I worry about staining the pillow cases of my friends when I stay over. Dribbling gets particularly bad when I am hungry. My mouth gushes with spittle in the anticipation of nourishment.

Mouth Ulcers; this is by far the worst aspect of having braces. For the first few weeks, ulcers formed on my cheeks and tongue. I thought they’d never subside. Talking and eating was so difficult it impacted my mood. Ulcers are no longer a problem since my discovery of miracle product Aloclair. The creator of this product should be sainted in my opinion. I have set up a shrine to this person.

Speech; the dual effects of ulcers and excess saliva had a severe impact on my speech. Notable moments include asking for “two thoffees” in a café. During a conversation, I once referred to London and New York as “big sissies”. Luckily, over a month or so, I have adapted. I now over-pronounce words like a dodgy Shakespearian actor. I continue to have bad days when hung-over or tired.

Food; eating was so difficult that I gave it up for a few weeks. Food stuff just kept getting tangled. I shed a significant amount of weight. I’m unable to bite into things since my front teeth are sensitive. Foods like chips, rice and lettuce are avoided. I’ve brushed my teeth in a posh restaurant bathroom. Once, during a run, a small piece of ginger dislodged somewhere from my brace. It made for an unpleasant surprise.

Men; I reckon I am more conscious of my braces than other people are. On the rare occasion I am chatted up, I fear the guy might notice my train tracks and do a U-turn. A guy like this is obviously not worth knowing. I should think of it as a screening process. Should I meet Mr Nice, I have a mental image of him leaning in for a kiss and getting his tongue getting caught in my metallic finish. This is clearly ridiculous, but it has crossed my mind.

Overall, I know braces are not forever. I am gradually getting used to them. Part of my treatment requires me wearing a jaw expander for five months. I’ve posted a picture of this below. When the orthodontist presented this to me, I stared in disbelief, gawping at its considerable size. Within minutes he lodged it into my gob. I reckon this piece of equipment could convert a guy to Judaism within a few seconds.

 

 

 

Aloclair

If this post turns up when someone Googles “ulcers and braces”, it will have performed its function. Us poor brace wearers suffer terribly from ulcers. The orthodontist will shite on about wax and the relief it gives. Brace wearers are given wax to put on the part of the brace that causes the abrasion to the tongue or cheeks. Wax does nothing but end up in your stomach. I am the human candle eater.

After trying many over-the-counter remedies, the nice lady in the pharmacy  recommended a product called Aloclair. Aloclair claims to prevent and treat mouth ulcers. It’s truly amazing. The product is completely natural, containing aloe vera gel as its main ingredient. The only downside is the cost (at 5Eur a pop, which might last you four days) and the horrid taste. However, it’s worth every cent.

There’s Been Movement

On Monday, I demonstrated to an audience that braces do not affect my ability to eat crunchy baguettes. Seriously, it was like a scene from a revolutionary Fixodent advert. I was short of calling for a crunchy, green apple to chomp into.

On Tuesday and today my teeth hurt like fuck from eating that bread stick. The consumption clearly caused some sensitivity. I’ve regretted it since.  Who’d have thought the nurse was right when she said, “don’t bite into things!”

On a plus, though, I flossed this evening, and for the first time, I’ve noticed signs of movement. Instead of having to force the flossy-brush-thing(y)s between my overcrowded teeth, they pass in and out easily.

Progress! Yay!