My orthodontist had the bluest eyes I have ever seen, the kind of eyes that gaze out from magazine covers and movie screens. His good looks took most of the agony out of having braces for my friends and me in the early 1980s.

Because my orthodontist reminded me of Rob Lowe, I have always related braces with good looks, and I’m not referring to how the patient’s teeth should look at the end of treatment.

So I was greatly relieved when Jimmy’s orthodontist turned out to be a normal-looking guy, instead of Brad Pitt’s twin brother. I could put my girlish crush behind me and focus on the grown-up reality of how much orthodontic work costs.

I brought the paperwork home and left it out for Ron to see. He faced the information like the brave Marine he is, memorizing the total cost to use as ammo in case Jimmy broke some of the rules of wearing braces. (Chewing gum is the number one forbidden activity.)

We have suspected for years that our oldest son would require orthodontic treatment; it was just a matter of waiting for the dentist to say it was time to get started. Unlike his parents, Jimmy has been looking forward to that day all along.

Most of his friends already have braces, making it seem like the cool thing to do.

I wasn’t so sure his eagerness would last because I clearly remember what it was like to have braces.

Even with Dr. Blue Eyes providing treatment, I was more than ready to put the whole experience behind me when the time came to have my braces removed.

It was uncomfortable, embarrassing and, to use one of my favorite teenage expressions, “gross.”

My son grew more excited the closer we came to the big day. His only fear was having bad weather keep us homebound when it came time for him to be fitted with braces.

As it turned out, we received plenty of ice and snow the week of Jimmy’s appointment, and school was already canceled.

Ron reported that all the main roads were clear, and the orthodontist’s office is less than two miles from our house, so I decided it was worth a cautious attempt.

I almost gave up when my wheels started spinning while I was backing out of the driveway. But, just as Ron said, the roads looked fine once I made it up the hill leading to our house.

By the time we were turning into the parking lot, I had managed to relax enough to laugh with Jimmy as he sang along to the radio. “I can’t believe you still know all the words to this song!” I said.

He and Ricky Martin kept singing “Living La Vida Loca” as I hit a patch of ice and missed the turn. It was scary for those two seconds we were sliding, but luckily, I had plenty of room to keep going and turn around.

Jimmy and I experienced a rare moment of silence between us. Then I apologized for the bad word I had said while slipping on the ice, and he went back to singing.

I’m happy to report that we made it safely home and back to living our own version of la vida loca.

Jimmy’s excitement wasn’t dampened by reality. He could not wait to show off his braces and the green bands he had selected in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 16 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at or find the Zichs online at

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