This time of year, working moms book their weekends with play dates. It’s the fastest way we know to repay all the families who occasionally welcome our kids into their homes for birthday parties and after-school Lego building.
That’s why I’ve parked my car in front of Tracy and Jim’s house. My boys are playing with theirs today, and I’ll repay the favor on my next day off. It’s noon, and now I’m hustling up their driveway.
I hear a car horn beep. When I turn, a police officer waves at me.
“Do you know how fast you were going?” he says as he pulls himself from the cruiser.
I don’t answer. I know enough to never admit to anything—especially the fact I don’t how fast I was going. It’s a trick I learned in my 20s from an article in GB’s Maxim Magazine.
“You were going 35, then 40 miles per hour. These streets are 25, you know,” he chides. “I’ll need your license and registration…when you have a moment, that is.”
I fumble for my wallet.
“Is this your car?” he asks.
“And is this your house?”
“No, officer, it’s not.”
“Are you visiting someone?”
“I’m picking up my boys. They’re having a play date.”
“Well, don’t let me hold you up. I can see you’re in a hurry. Go ahead and get them, I’ll wait.”
I sigh, but I smile to show I’m still in control of myself. The officer gives me a funny look, then chuckles.
So I walk again up the driveway and ring the doorbell. When Jim opens the door, he notices the cruiser before he notices me. “Don’t worry,” I assure him. “That cop is here for me.”
When I admit to Jim and Tracy that I was speeding, they laugh it off. “That’s the problem with this neighborhood,” Jim says. “These guys have nothing else to do.”
I nod and laugh a little. I don’t mention that he was right to pull me over. Good God. 40mph in a neighborhood full of kids. I hate when people do that. What was I thinking! I’m absolutely mortified.
“Well, the kids are playing downstairs,” Jim says. “Why don’t you work things out with that guy, and when he’s gone, just come on back.”
I can’t tell you how grateful I am. No mom wants to explain to her children how and why she broke the law.
So I turn on my heels and walk back toward the officer. He’s writing something on a notepad and holds up a finger to keep me from approaching the vehicle. I stand idiot-like on the sidewalk, turning around every second or so to make sure my sons aren’t watching from the window.
Eventually, the officer steps out of the cruiser again. “I’m giving you a warning this time,” he says. “Remember: residential streets are 25, and this isn’t the Indy 500.”
I blink. “A warning? Not a ticket?”
He pats my shoulder. “That’s right, kid. Slower next time.”
I can thank my braces for this.
The moment I walked out of my orthodontist’s office in October, I noticed something strange: Brace Face = special treatment! It’s like I’ve landed on some kind of Tinsel Teeth VIP list, because with braces, suddenly I get free stuff. People actually smile, say hello and get chatty. They hold doors and tell me to go ahead of them in line. At the bakery, they hand me two free samples of delicious coffee cake, while everyone else gets just one. At first I thought this sudden sea change was the result of my natural charm, but the fact is, I’m not that charming.
Just last week, for example, I buzzed through the Starbucks drive-thru to grab an iced coffee for GB. When I pulled up to the window, the barista made me laugh before he handed me my drink. When I pulled out my wallet, he shook his head. “It’s on the house,” he said. “Have a good one!”
Nice. It was my third free Starbucks since October. Do you know how many free drinks I used to snag before I got adult braces? Not many, friend. Not many.
Still, there’s a downside to Brace Face.
Last week, GB and I met at House of India to enjoy a quick plate of curry chicken. It was so tasty, I almost cried as I chewed bite after bite of lemon rice. As we were waiting for our check, I smiled at GB. “Are my braces ok?” I asked. “They’re not yellow from the rice, are they?”
“They look fine,” he said. “But it’s dark in here.”
A few minutes later, I slipped behind the wheel of my car and pulled a tube of lipstick out of my purse. When I looked in the rearview mirror, I gasped in horror.
I texted GB right away. “My braces are neon yellow!”
He hadn’t pulled out of the parking lot yet. I saw him pick up his text and start laughing.
A few minutes later, my phone buzzed with this response: “I’ll just have to call you ‘Sweet Neon.’”
Sweet Neon, indeed. And now you know the real story behind the speeding incident. I flashed a federal-safety-yellow smile at the officer, and won myself a sympathy vote.
Whatever, guy. I’ll take it.
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