Luckily, I grew up towards the end of the headgear era. I got to skip on that experience, but instead had to deal with a record breaking six years with braces. When I finally had them removed two days before Junior Prom, I couldn’t stop licking the top row of my teeth while announcing how “my teeth feel so smoooth! My teeth feel soo SMOOTH!”
But back to headgear. Headgear is like a muzzle for people. When you first saw a classmate walk in with their massive cranial erector set, your initial response was to stare then pause, slightly averting your eyes while remembering that staring was rude, then proceeding to stare some more. You looked at the poor kid like there was something terribly wrong with his face, kind of like how dogs react when they see a fellow pup in the Cone of Shame.
There were only two poor souls in my 3rd grade class that had to endure a year’s worth of traumatic self-consciousness. They were both girls, and completely opposite (really! not just for the sake of a good story).
The first I’ll call Pre-Mom. Pre-Mom… was exactly that… the type of kid that with one glance, you could tell exactly how she would look and behave as an adult. It is the same effect as when you see pictures of kids from back in the day… like WAY back in the day… when those Dust Bowl kids wore the burden of the nation’s struggles on their faces.
Aside from being one of the smartest kids in class, Pre-Mom was plain by all means. Average height, average personality, with a hint of mom-like athletic abilities.
The other Headgear Heroine was the Dental Dinosaur.
When it came to picking teams at recess, the Dental Dinosaur pretty much had a penis, being drafted either first or second, and averaging an astounding 15 rebounds and 7 blocks per game. She talked trash while dominating in Tether ball against opponents 6-10 inches shorter than her, ending the year with a 131-0 Tether ball record.
While Dental Dino was athletically gifted at an honors level, her cognitive skills were not quite up to par. Lucky for her she realized and came to terms with this at an early age and decided to just GO FOR IT… cheating at every chance she got.
The sad part was that she was a horrible cheater, and the headgear just made it worse. During a test in a pre-headgear world, a strange tennis racket-shaped shadow would suddenly appear on your paper. You looked up to see the Dinosaur towering over you with her eyes fixated on your answers. Captain Obvious always had her mouth agape with wide eyes that looked like an excited E.T., as if information would be absorbed faster by increasing the exposed diameter of your eyes.
Since then you defaulted into a test protection posture during every exam. Once a test was placed on your desk you instantly dove, burying your head and paper into your left arm. But even this didn’t deter her from cheating.
Her headgear just made things creepier, as her heavy breathing made it seem like the alien from the move Aliens was hissing in your ear.
You let things slide as long as Dental Dinosaur was on your P.E. team…
***It’s the last round of Steal the Bacon. Pre-Mom has been matched up with Dental Dinosaur and has been owned all game. The game is tied as both sides are itching for Mrs. Jones to shout out the final clue.
“The last pair will be the answer to: 23-15!
Pre-Mom takes off! But Dental Dinosaur is too busy pointing aimlessly at the sky trying to carry the one with her index finger. She gives up for a brief moment, and it isn’t until the whole team shouts at her to go that she bolts like an ostrich.
Dental Dino closes the gap on Pre-Mom, in a rare occurrence where athletic abilities can instantly compensate for a lack of intelligence. Both girls start bending down towards the eraser, panting through their face metal. Pre-Mom, being shorter and closer to the ground, reaches down first to grab the eraser. But along the way her gaping mouth crashes into the Dinosaur’s arm, as her headgear becomes entangled with Dental Dino’s candy bracelet. Pre-Mom falls onto the blacktop still attached to her headgear counterpart. Their eyes lock in a panic state. Then suddenly the Dinosaur’s adrenaline and instincts take over to solve this problem the only way she knows how…
Dental Dinosaur unleashes her brute force, dragging a screaming Pre-Mom’s head back and forth like a Raggety Ann Doll until the bracelet finally snaps, scattering bits of colored candy wheels in all directions. Mrs. Jones and the rest of the class is shocked! Mrs. Jones runs to Pre-Mom’s aid. Dental Dinosaur on the other hand, immediately gets on her knees scrambling for her precious sugar treats, screaming “5 second rule, 5 second rule!” as she blows black specks off of a blue piece and pops it through her oral fence with a satisfied grin.
Ouch! Poor Pre-Mom. Oh, and this is your future. 0/2.