How I Met My Future Son-in-Law

By Erika Hoffman

“You should get your teeth whitened before your son’s wedding,” my friend Laura suggested.

“Sounds painful,” I said curling my upper lip under, protecting my sensitive, non-pearly whites.

“Definitely, do it.”

So, I phoned my daughter who left North Carolina to attend dental school in New York. She said she could whiten mine a few hues, and I could combine it with a visit to her before her bro’s big event in Atlanta.

“Do you usually whiten teeth?” I asked. She didn’t but figured she could.

When I arrived there, we spent a day exploring the museums of the metropolis before my dental appointment the next day. As we strolled in Central Park, my daughter confided that she had started seeing someone, but that they were keeping it very low key because he was also a dental student and one grade over her and, in fact, mentored her. “Tell me about him. Is he from New York?” I inquired.

She laughed. “No. South of here.”

“New Jersey?”


“Farther south than the Carolinas?”

“He’s foreign.”


“He’s Egyptian.”

“Yeah, that’s a bit farther south than North Carolina.”

She was quiet.

“Is this serious?” I probed.

“Maybe.” And she smiled covertly.

On the day of my appointment the students, including my daughter, seemed busy so I waited a while. One of the teaching dentists tried to take up the slack and put composite in my mouth to make the mold; I started gagging and choking, and he quickly exited the cubicle I was isolated in. When my daughter returned, I told her that this was not a good idea as I’d changed my mind, and I didn’t care if my teeth gleamed golden in my son’s future wedding album. She told me they’d try to make the impression again later, and another dentist would help. Meanwhile, we needed a dental dam that would fit my mouth, and she went searching for one as I sat immobile, on a slant with the big draping serviette clipped over my chest.

Soon, an older dentist, a Dr. Weiner, entered. She introduced me. I wanted to ask if he were related to the New York politician aka “Carlos Danger” who had made the news recently by texting self–portraits to some unlucky recipients, but given my vulnerable position and his role in the making of the tooth impression, I decided to keep my inquiries and subsequent jokes to myself.

“Oh, dear; oh, dear,” Dr. Weiner repeated several times as my daughter forced an apparatus into my mouth that was much too large.

I wiggled in the seat and motioned for her to get the thingy-ma-gig out NOW!

“Oh dear. Oh dear!” the teaching prof said as he wrung his hands.

“That hurt!” I said, struggling to rise out of the chair.

“Poor thing,” he muttered, and his worried eyes twitched above his mask.

At which time, she removed it and looked utterly frustrated with her non-compliant patient who couldn’t even tolerate this “temporary” discomfort. How was I to react with the acid and curing heat yet to be applied? We both wondered.

“Fuhgeddaboudit!” I uttered.

“Mom, you paid a lot for this procedure. We will do it.” She had her hand on her hip.

“Oh dear; oh dear,” Dr. Weiner fretted. His eyes skirted from one side to the other in their orbs. “Let’s get Mohamed to help,” Dr. Weiner announced excitedly as if he’d had an epiphany.

With drool and spit and plaster on my face, I garbled, “NO!”

“Pardon?” the old dentist asked. “Mohamed is very skilled; he will make a dam that fits.” Then, Dr. Weiner hollered over the tops of the cubicles, “Mohamed!”

“NO!” I shouted and sat up as straight and defiant as I could in the tilt -a- whirl chair.

“What? Why don’t you want Mohamed?” Dr. Weiner asked. He squinted and crossed his eyebrows. “He’s very professional.”

I knew I couldn’t explain that Mo was the guy my daughter was seeing and that she and he wanted their romance kept secret. On top of that, I didn’t want my daughter’s boyfriend meeting me for the first time by his staring down the abyss of my yellow-toothed mouth with bits of composite stuck to my cracked lips and saliva filling up my parched gullet!

“Not Mohammed!” I uttered fast before the requested dental student could reach us. “I don’t want him to see me!”

Dr. Weiner glared at me as if I were the epitome of every Hollywood incarnation of the Southern racist stereotype. My daughter tiptoed out of the cubicle. When she returned, she told Dr. Weiner that Mo was going to the pediatric department to find a dam that would fit her mother’s small mouth.

I reclined there with that awful feeling of knowing I’d been misjudged by this old guy. Nonetheless, I was unwilling to explain why I’d refused the care offered. Soon, a metal cart was shoved down the long aisle to the station where we were. My daughter smiled as the cart rolled right to her feet. On it was the requested pediatric device.

“Here it is, Dr. Weiner,” she said. “Mo sent it down.”

The dentist looked perplexed at the chain of events, and I could see the wheels turning as he wondered why I’d not allow

Mohamed near me.

Dr. Weiner had made an assumption which was completely

erroneous but somewhat hilarious. Here he thought I was a

xenophobe, and in reality I was just being vain, not wanting to meet my daughter’s sweetheart for the first time by having him prod around my mouth scrutinizing my less-than-stellar molars. Who can blame me?

So, getting my teeth whitened was my introduction to the handsome, intelligent, thoughtful doctor, who two years later became my much loved son-in-law, Mo.

About this writer

  • Erika Hoffman Erika Hoffman views most travel experiences as educational experiences and sometimes the lessons learned are revelations about oneself.

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4 Responses to “How I Met My Future Son-in-Law”

  1. Erika,
    Your story made me chuckle. I had my own incident at the dentist’s office. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Rose Ann says:

    I can just feel your anxiety! Funny story.

  3. Erika Hoffman says:

    Thanks for the comments. Sometimes, the most angst-producing incidents make for funny stories in retrospect!

  4. Enjoyed your humorous story. Hope you flashed those pearly whites a lot at the wedding!

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