|drew mackie — revealing it all|
I was greeted by the receptionist, who had me wait on a plush leather couch like so many starlets about to learn the truth about stardom.
I was then escorted into a brightly lit backroom, where a man who spoke little English put his fingers in my mouth. I typically do not let strangers poke their fingers into my mouth, but this seemed to be the proper course of action today, or at least the room where I should make an exception to my rule. He tugged at my cheeks (face-cheeks, you jerks) and prodded at my gums and manually opened and closed my jaw, like he was trying to make it look like I was talking. (That may be added in post.)
Then Toshi — he said his name was Toshi, I think — asked if he could take my picture, which I’m sure was more a result of general politeness than me having any option, but I said yes. For a second, I felt special.
When Toshi returned with the camera, he didn’t tell me to smile. He just said “As big as possible,” which I interpreted as referring to how I should open my mouth, but now, you know, I’m not completely sure because he kept asking “Bigger? Bigger?” and maybe I just take bad direction. In the end, he asked if I could make “biggest smile using fingers,” which could mean so many things, I realize now. Like, just so many things. But I propped my upper lip up with my index fingers, so that I was exposing full gum, like my mother always told me never to do, and while I did that, Toshi placed different fake teeth — every shade of thirtysomething off-white, from “coffee habit” to “technically quit smoking” — in front of my real teeth, which could be a kind of meta porn, some kind of signifier-signified erotica, real-synth smut that just takes some weirdo in some weird place to a naughty special place.
None of this occurred to me as being potentially strange as I was doing it, I should point out, and Toshi could have asked me to, say, place an entire kitten in my oral cavity and I probably would have done it if it meant that he’d continue taking my picture and I’d continue feeling like a star.
But soon enough, my time with Toshi came to an end, and he told me to leave. “Do I need to pay?” I asked. “No,” he said. “You’ll pay later.” And those words rang in my head as I walked to my car and wondered exactly how many people would see those photos.