The Beauty Inside
by Alyssa Ball
When you’ve gotten old, like me, and never been married, like me, your concept of Prince Charming begins to change. And by change, I mean that your standards become incredibly low. While I still prefer to steer clear of anyone engaging in behavior that could result in a felony conviction, most misdemeanors are now seen as nothing more than a slight bother. If in my twenties I would have responded with, “What kind of awful person would behave in such a despicable way?” today I am more likely to say, “Well, who am I to judge? After all, live and let live. Sooooo, did you say he’s single?”
I like to think that I am someone who has never been particularly hung up on physical appearance, that I’m interested in who a person is rather than what they look like. Part of this stems from living in reality. After all, if you’re not Angelina Jolie, you can hardly expect to land Brad Pitt, right? But there has to be more to it than pragmatism; it has to be that I am more evolved than others. I choose to not be consumed by petty matters such as pot bellies, bald spots, black socks with sandals, and webbed fingers. My open minded attitude has brought some great men into my life. Giant Head, Shrimp, Lazy Eye, and Pudgebucket were all good guys and I certainly never spent any time focusing on their physical shortcomings. I am better than all that.
Or so I like to think. But a recent encounter has me reconsidering just how shallow I might be. Truly there aren’t many physical traits that would make me reconsider a person. But I guess everyone has their own personal line, and I just walked up to the edge of mine. I felt myself staring at it when I waited on a customer at work with brown teeth. Not yellow. Not discolored. If his teeth were floorboards, Home Depot would advertise the color as rich and deep. If his teeth were an item of clothing, the kid at Banana Republic would say, “I see you like that shirt in espresso!”
I know that brown teeth don’t make someone less of a person, so why do I see them as a deal breaker? With all the character flaws I am willing to turn a blind eye to, how could I decide that brown teeth are just too much? He didn’t seem to mind his teeth. He was a chatter, he smiled widely, he threw his head back and laughed with an open mouth. I’m glad that he wasn’t self-conscious about his teeth. Did I expect that he would spend his life in his home or learn sign language to avoid ever opening his mouth? Of course not; the problem with the brown teeth was mine, not his.But it was a problem, a really big problem. I could barely concentrate on my already feeble customer service skills; I was so consumed by thinking about these teeth. How did they get so brown? Do they hurt? Are they in danger of falling out? But mostly, I wondered, does he have a girlfriend? Does his girlfriend kiss him? And, oh my gosh, I shudder to think, does she kiss him with tongue? If so, I would have to congratulate her that she is a better woman, truly more evolved, than I.