Baby Teeth

My mouth is a luxury item. No, really. When a doctor with coarse bedside manners cut my mother’s heart out with the sentence, “your son will never speak in his life,” he was unwittingly letting loose the biggest jinx ever. Now, they can’t shut me up.

My mouth is a danger to myself. Everything from kissing homely married women to a nineteen-year love affair with cigarettes to spouting off at inopportune times to rubbing leftover cocaine residue on my gums to nearly biting my little buddy’s finger off for insulting John Elway.

I must steer clear of oral fixations before the floor of my car is littered with broken toothpicks and mangled twisty coffee straws. Time and maturity has improved the situation, but get me going on the tip of a pen or a heavenly-scented earlobe and I can’t leave it alone for weeks. Even asleep, I drool like a Saint Bernard puppy at a barbeque. It’s always awkward when someone else notices. “Look at that puddle! It’s a flood!” Yes, I know.

My mouth is an asset. I’m decent looking but with terrific lips. In dimly-lit bars, they netted me a joyride or two. Something about full lips in that shadow makes them stand out while hiding my flaws. They don’t see the bizarre Neanderthal forehead with the eyes set so deep, you eat pricey gelato out of them. Certainly not the faded acne scars or the weird whiskers jutting out from my ears. Nah, just a clever remark or two and these lips can do it. Or they used to before I wised up and turned in my barfly card.

Don’t ever kiss me. Seriously. There’s a power, an electric force within that becomes addictive. I’m not prone to boasting, but it’s true. I’m a masterclass suckface; it’s these half-Mediterranean puckers. Don’t ever kiss me again, one girl said. “You’ll be the end of me.” My feet didn’t touch the ground for days.

My mouth’s a curse. “Yes I can read lips and speak, but I really am deaf.” They go off like rappers in a showdown, running my receptors haggard until I just nod and grin and hope this, too, passes without incident. I’d be better off silently pointing to my ears and keeping my yap shut and, often, that’s exactly what I do. Then later I bump into the same person at a time when the ability to speak would be immensely useful and…I can’t. Once, I was standing outside minding my own business, just taking in the rush hour traffic in the city when an old friend walked by. We yammered about whatever loudly for a minute before he went on his way. Then I turned around to see my neighbor slack-jawed, eyes unmistakably betrayed. You fucker you can speak, he seemed to say, what a douchebag.

Sometimes, I’m feeling articulate, polished, almost hearing. The remarks draw knowing looks of approval, hey, this guy can hang. Other times, my lips move like drunken children, bouncing off each other and the noises emitted barely resemble intelligible speech. This guy’s, uh, special.

Yo, Doc, yeah you, remember me? No? Of course not, I was a toddler then. Well, let me refresh your memory. Shit down a minute? No? You won’t sit down? Oh, no shit? No, I mean sit. Sorry. I got a lot to say here. Listen up and please get eye contact if you say anything.

“First things first. What’s the statute of limitations on malpractice?”

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