We may not have had a lot of money, friends or status…but my parents had their crazy things they made sure we did in case anyone else saw us. I say that it was crazy because it wasn’t whether or not my siblings and I had shelter, or food … but it was whether we had combed our hair and brushed our teeth properly enough each morning before we produced ourselves in front of the world.
My mom and dad made a big deal about his ritual. Sometimes my father would make a joke about it, when asking me if I had combed my hair…and I replied yes – he would always joke and ask “which one?”… Dad… I would say. Of course all of it. Which, of course I had. I would NEVER not do it. Why would I risk the back lash that would occur…that was just about to occur.
I was sitting in the back seat of our Nova, with my brother Jason. We were parked in the gas station; my dad was positioned to get gas. My dad had his arm stretched out behind my mom’s back, as she sat in the front seat, listening to my father. “Did you brush your fucking teeth Carrie?, cuz it sure as fuck doesn’t look like you have brushed it in days!”
“Yes Dad, I did. This morning when I woke up…” I replied terrified. Of course I did, and he knew I did. There was a hair brush beside my pillow for when I woke up, and I knew that right after that – I would go across the hall and brush my teeth. Why would I ever take the chance that this would happen?
I’m not sure how long this conversation went on. However, at some point my dad explained to me and Jason how the next while was going to play out. Dad was going to drive Jason and I home right after he finished at the pump, at that point Jason would time me for exactly 15 minutes. At which time I was to brush my fucking filthy teeth until they were fucking bleeding. I had only 15 minutes, and that’s fucking it. My brother was to watch me, and make sure I didn’t get a second longer than the fifteen minutes my father so generously was giving me. If my teeth weren’t fucking white when my parents go home my dad was going to kick my fucking teeth to the back of my fucking head.
I can remember standing in my bathroom brushing my teeth franticly. My brother was standing at the door staring at his watch the entire time, all the while giving me the count down. Whether my father was home or not he was going ot make sure I only got the 15 min I was allotted.
Usually when my brother was left alone with me he took the time to hurt me in a more intimate way, but this day he knew our parents would be returning very soon… he just didn’t have the time. I remember looking in the mirror and asking Jason over and over if they looked white enough to him. Jason never reassured me…and made sure the water was off and brush put down at the 15 minute mark.
I waited for my parents return, shaking and terrified. When my father returned he was already upset about something completely different. He never brought up my teeth again that day.