Teen Kryptonite- Braces on the teeth.
The thing is, as not-teens, we forgot how bad things like braces are. The first day I had these (and invisaligns are NOT as bad as the regular metal ones) I thought, how on earth would a kid focus? eat? not burst into tears. And yet thousand and thousands (probably zillions) of kids are walking into classrooms reeling with pain from braces. Do we, as adults, even consider this?
Add this distraction to a million others, and I can say with certainty that I do not ever want to relive high school, as much as I love to write about it.
You don't see much mention of braces in YA books. You can't really blame the authors, kids are getting braces younger and younger these days, so most YA characters would have probably had their braces removed...I had really bad teeth...so I wore mine until I was 16? I remember the day I had mine put on, crying because I couldn't eat pizza. But the best story by far was in Algebra...or possibly Algebra 2. It involves a ridiculous crush and an atomic fireball.
To understand my story, you would have to know that not only did I have braces, but they were hinged on the side. So if I opened my mouth too wide...well, I couldn't open my mouth very wide, and there was this youch moment when I tried. You might also know that I was inordinately proud of my ability to weather the agony of the atomic fireball. And if you've never encountered an atomic fireball, they are jawbreakers that go from sweet to incredibly, painfully, hot.
It might also help the reader to understand that I had a mild crush on the boy who sat in front of me. Mild in that, I knew in my logical mind that even if he ever noticed me, it would never work out. He was a mathematical nerd and I was an English geek. No way. He showed enthusiasm for equations and scorn for Shakespeare. We were never going to happen. But, I still was mildly in love with him...and sometimes could forget the incompatible natures of our individual uncoolness.
I hated that class. Couldn't force myself to pay attention even if I wanted to (which I'm ashamed to say that I mostly didn't). But a nice piece of candy could serve as a distraction. So, I popped an atomic fireball into my mouth. At first it was fine. I rolled it around in my mouth. The teacher was talking about something. I opened my notebook and doodled. The fireball got really hot. I spit it out and let my mouth cool down...and then put it back in. It was back to a sweet layer, no big deal...until I rolled it over to the side of my jaw, and it got lodged behind the hinge. Still not that big of a deal, except, it was getting hotter. Hotter and hotter until the skin was evaporating off of my tongue and my mouth was on fire! And it was totally stuck! Until I hit my jaw with the side of my hand, and the atomic fireball shot out of my mouth and hit my incompatible math-crush in the back of his head!
As if that wasn't bad enough, it landed on my desk, all gooey and gross. And, at least in my memory, he turned around and gave me this look of mixed confusion and scorn. Confusion and scorn...the building blocks of adolescent angst.
Have I mentioned that my teeth hurt?