Staying 'neat' as time marches on

Sunday, January 5, 2003

Editor's note: This column originally was published Jan. 7, 1996.

During the recent holidays I received an unexpected and unintentional gift from a youngster who was totally unaware of the intangible present she bestowed. I'm not sure I've used the right adjectives describing the gift, so let me explain. The youngster was visiting with me along with some others her age. And as all honest and uninhibited children are, she asked a question I'd never been asked before. She said, "What's that thing in your front tooth?"

"It's a gold inlay," I replied, knowing exactly what she was referring to for I hadn't been eating any spinach or lettuce that might have lodged there.

"Neat!" she exclaimed, wide-eyed with amazement and appreciation that although my facial features were succumbing to gravity (she may not have noticed) I was still determined to be "neat."

Nowadays it is "neat" or "hip" among some young people to have maybe one gold earring not only in the ear but perhaps hanging from an eyebrow or a nostril or even a jewel embedded somewhere on the outside of the nose as if it grew there. Or a gold inlay in a front tooth.

I'm sure this youngster thought I had had this gold inlay put there to bring myself up to date. I started to explain that it had been there about 67 years, placed by a long ago dentist who did things like that to my generation instead of filling a small cavity with something white (gold decorations before gold was cool?). I'm not sure they had white fillings then. I don't remember the dentist giving me or many of my friends a choice. He just went ahead and did it and, Lordy, how it has lasted.

I halted my explanation to revel in this new state of being "neat." Why not let the youngster think I was up on the latest fad, even though such decorations might, to some, smack of subculture.

Very few people today have small gold inlays in front teeth lasting from long ago youth, but if you do, stand up straight, smile. You're "neat."

I'm usually behind the times in fashion and all lines of bodily trimmings or cosmetics. I didn't know until recently that eyebrows could be tattooed on. Maybe they'll soon have tattooed, although one-dimensional, eyelashes; or maybe they already do. Tattooed eye liners? Tattooed mustache behind a real one, if the real one is sparse?

By the time I catch up with fashions, they're out of date. Are gold chains still in fashion? If they are, I think I'll try to be avant-garde for once and get ahead of the fashion. I'm going to wrap them several times around my wrist. I wonder, can I fasten such chains with what might seem like one and a half hands? Maybe I'll wind them around my ankles. That's been done, somewhat, with ankle bracelets. But they are so dainty. Why not a whole rope of chains up to the calf? Oh, there's those stockings again that you get about six wears out of. These chains may cut it down to one wear. Hey! How about tattooing on stockings? Nah. Too cold in winter.

I can wear my chains suspended from a pocket instead of around my neck, fasten them on the inside with a safety pin to hinder easy snatching. Men can revert to the old fashion of wearing a vest and looping the chains from the right hand pocket to the left, no matter if there is not a gold watch in one of the pockets. They might even suspend a Phi Beta Kappa key from the looped chain as one of my professors did, which made me want to become a Phi Beta Kappa, although I never did.

Humm, I've got Alpha Chi Omega, Phi Theta Kappa, and Kappa Delta Pi keys. Make rings of them? Nah, too showy. I've got some loose skin under my chin. I wonder?


Jean Bell Mosley is an author and longtime resident of Cape Girardeau.

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