Shut Your Mouth

I was running through my mental To-Do list earlier today (clean fridge, buy milk, dust turtle, etc.) when I started wondering about To-Don’t lists. I think everyone has a To-Don’t list, whether they’re aware of it or not. Mine varies from day-to-day, but it always has a few old standbys.


1. Don’t Die

2. Don’t Panic

3. Don’t Talk about Fight Club

3. Don’t Stop Believin’

4. Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina

5. Don’t Be Stupid

Lately I haven’t been following my To-Don’t list very well at all. I recently realized that my blatant disregard for Point #5 (Don’t Be Stupid) was making me pretty anxious, which goes directly against Point #2 (Don’t Panic). I was doing so much panicking, in fact, that I had almost convinced myself I was on the verge of neglecting Point #1, the cardinal don’t: Don’t Die.

Don't Stop Believin'

Happily, I never once stopped believin’.

You see, at some point I subconsciously decided I have enough adult responsibilities. I pay the bills, I shop for groceries, I keep things tidy, I go to work, and I tuck in my shirt. That’s a lot of stuff. An extraordinarily lazy part of my brain thought, “If I maintain these five grownup activities, I will have achieved adulthood. No! No more things. This will suffice.” Conveniently, that meant I didn’t have to do really lame stuff like go to the doctor, or flush my car’s radiator, or get a haircut. Life was pretty grand.

Then one night last week, everything fell apart. It started when I ran out of floss before bed. For reasons I can’t explain, this filled me with a horrible sense of dread. How long has it been since I went to the dentist? I turned the light out to go to sleep, but it was at least three million degrees in my bedroom and that was clearly not going to happen.

The Things that Keep Me Up at Night

– When did I last see a doctor? I don’t even have a doctor!

– Oh God, I bet this mole is cancer. I bet all the moles are cancer! I’ll have to go to the hospital.

– What if my car breaks down on the way? I need to get the oil changed again. Has it been three months or 3,000 miles? Wait, is it three months AND 3,000 miles? Does that even make sense?


When I finally fell asleep, I dreamed about a Full House remake. It was a dark time.

The next morning, I scheduled every grownup chore I’d been putting off. I made two doctors’ appointments, a dentist appointment, and a reservation at a hair salon. I went by an oil place on my lunch break. I tried to quell the panic, and I think I did pretty well right up until my dentist appointment last Friday.

Nobody likes going to the dentist. I’ve never had to have a dental procedure of any kind, but the challenge of trying to keep up a conversation with someone who has their hands in my mouth is more than enough to scare me away for years. Things were going pretty well this time, though. The dentist called my skull shape “stupid-looking”, but I let it slide. If I’m murdered and my remains are found, someone will be able to identify me by my stupid-looking skull and that’s really all that matters.

Don't worry, I'm asking my doctor about the negative effects of watching too many crime procedurals.

Don’t worry, I’ll ask my doctor about the negative effects of watching too many crime procedurals.

Then something weird happened. The dentist was poking around in my mouth and I was trying to envision my happy place (it’s almost exactly the same as reality, except no one puts their hands in your face holes) when he said “HUH” loudly.

“Unh?” I said eloquently. He leaned over to the technician and whispered something that made her scoot her chair closer to my mouth and look inside.
“HUH,” she said.
“Unh?!” I said again, because clearly they hadn’t heard me the first time.
“You have a growth,” he said.
“UNH?!” I said.
“You know how the roof of your mouth has a big bump on it?” he asked.
“Unh…” I said.
“No one else has that. It’s nothing to worry about. The bones in your mouth just didn’t get the memo to stop growing. I told you your skull was stupid-looking. Also, did you know you have a hitch in your jaw that’s preventing it from closing in a straight line?”
“Unh,” I said, playing it cool. On the inside, though, I was totally freaked out.

My entire life, I never gave a second thought to the inside of my mouth. If I had, I would have assumed everyone’s mouth felt exactly the same. It was sort of a beautiful idea, actually. We’re different colors and shapes and sizes, but we’re united in one thing– our mouths feel like mouths.

Except now I know mine doesn’t. Here I was thinking I was sharing the human experience, and 23 years later I find that I’ve been living a lie. I keep asking around– I haven’t found anyone like me yet. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but my convex mouth and I are completely alone in a cold, concave world. It’s like being kicked out of a club I didn’t even know I was in.

Anyway, I’ve had to supplement my To-Don’t list since that fateful day.

To-Don’t, Continued

6. Don’t Overanalyze Your Weird Mouth, You Freaky Mutant

What mouth?

What mouth?


  1. Anne

    That gave me a brilliant laugh this morning, so thank you for that! I did an ACTUAL lol with nobody else in the room, indeed.

    If it’s any consolation, I too am lightly panicking about not having been to the dentist in TWO years. This is partly to do with the fact that I live in Bulgaria, and any interaction with service providers is hard work at best. (Service is most definitely NOT built into the culture here; the customer is invariably wrong, if you will.) Of course with each struggle comes a story – some of them I’ve actually managed to find funny – so I’ve started blogging about them here: Pop over if you have a minute.

    I will certainly be including The Dentist experience when it comes to it. And my Bulgarian may actually me MORE understandable when someone’s got their hand in my mouth, so here’s hoping…. More soon! ~Anne

  2. angelajardine

    You need to find out which chair-side charm school your dentist went to and tell them to give him a refund!!! Or perhaps he was doing research into what a full-blown panic attack looked like. And I shouldn’t worry about him having his hands in your mouth … he had his foot in his own. Good luck with the convex mouth thingy.

  3. red1263

    For what it’s worth, I think you having a unique one-of-a-kind mouth would mean that your kisses are unique and one-of-a-kind! You need to learn to accept that you’re a complete weird package and that is not a bad thing!

  4. Sparrowgrass

    My original to don’t list came with “Don’t be wrong” as the highest directive. I keep trying to cross it out and learn that it’s OK to be wrong, but in times of stress I realise it’s back again. I think everyone understands themself better when they figure out what’s on their To Don’t list and whether it’s something that makes sense or not.

  5. enicolepickle

    Though my dentist has never said anything about it, i also have a bump on the roof of my mouth. I remember when i learned that not everyone had a mouth roof shaped like mine. I may or may not have insisted upon feeling it with my finger after not believing the scematic i insisted they draw for me. It changed my universe.

  6. Spastic Sausage

    If it makes you feel any better, I also have a bump in the roof of my mouth but I don’t notice it because a) it’s always been that way and b) the roof of my mouth is pushed up about an 1.5 so the bump is right about where I think the roof of everyone else’s mouth is. It never bothered me until a dentist pointed it out and then I was all self concious about something no one else would ever see….there guys have issues.

  7. themeredithmouth

    1. I also have a bump in my mouth.
    2. My jaw also does not close in a straight manner.
    3. I have not died yet.

    Also, in conclusion, everyone has that much hair.

    Don’t Fear the Reaper,

  8. battlewagon13

    I agree with one of the comments – the dentist was looking for money. I’ve had that with optometrists many times. I’m a pilot and have better than 20-20 vision. I go to the optometrist and boom – they say i need glasses. Nice.

  9. eventer79

    2. Don’t Worry, You Are Not Alone.

    I have a freaky mutant lopsided jaw where one side grew more than the other. At 34, I have TMJ pain occasionally, but Am Not Dead Yet. I hate dentists — possibly because I had braces for like 11 years and spent my childhood grunting through a mouthful of fingers, ugh!

  10. emisformaker

    I try to avoid dentists as much a I possibly can, because they are all panic-mongering scam artists. My gran has gone most of her life without molars because her dentist said they needed to be removed, and because it was a simpler time when people trusted their medical professionals to have their best interests at heart. I went 10 years without going to a dentist, and only went back to get wisdom teeth pulled. Lesson learned: never trust someone whose fancy university-schooled ‘profession’ used to be practiced by the same people who cut hair.

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  12. Whitney

    You aren’t the only one! My jawbone failed to receive the “stop-growing” memo, and I also have tori (that’s what those bumps are called) in my mouth.

  13. Amanda

    I have a convex mouth too!! I found this blog doing a google search for “roof of mouth convex”. WE ARE NOT ALONE!

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  17. Adrienne

    I have that, as do both my sister and my mom. We didn’t find out it was weird until my sisters retainer got stuck in her mouth because her mouth was the wrong shape. I’ve asked everyone I know since that day, probably like 20 years ago if they have it. No one does. I now have a son of my own, he’s nine and I just noticed its growing in. He didn’t have it as a baby, I checked for that shit. But he has I now. Weird.

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