Altering the Smile, Blood Pressure Wars and Edna Ferber. Again.

Today, a pastiche.

Pastiche: an artistic work in a style that imitates that of another artist, style or period.

Alternate definition (my favorite): a confused mixture or jumble — The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2001.

Altering the Smile.

As I sat in an orthodontist’s office, I was asking myself why I am here? I’m of a certain age, somewhere in the sixth decade of my life, and getting a consult about braces. My dentist, a fabulous, lively woman who helped to bring my teeth (if not my smile) into healthy order, suggested that I “just talk to the guy” because my teeth’s order itself could use some work, she tells me.

So, after driving home from the ortho consult, estimate in hand and well, minorly shocking but not a true surprise, I resorted to Google.

And yes, it’s a thing. More of us are getting braces. We’re keeping our teeth longer with good dental hygiene, but moveable forces, such as the jaw and teeth themselves, can affect gums, promote decay, and cause bone loss. And, we have more money to spend.

I had braces as a teenager, but only on my top teeth. I think the reason for that is my parents ran out of money, after spending most of it on braces for my older sisters. When it came to me, a compromise with the orthodontist was struck. (Not really, in case one of my sisters reads this)

I’m thinking of going for it, but hesitating still. It’s a lot of money. And I can’t help thinking how many more miles I’ll get out of this new bite.

Blood Pressure Wars

Do other couples compete to achieve the lowest blood pressure? My wonderful husband and I both partake of antihypertensives. I pride myself on needing only the diuretic type, but for a variety of reasons he was prescribed bigger guns. After many years of lifestyle adjustments, his blood pressure, on the same meds, is lower than mine.

I feel jealous.

When I should feel relieved.

It makes me feel competitive, but I don’t think he feels the same. It’s my nature to say “I can do that just as well, even better.” I confess I’ve felt the same way about writing. It’s a handicap.

Edna Ferber

I have always greatly admired the novel Giant. I had seen the film a dozen times before the first time I read the book. Now I am reading So Big, and many of her roughly 30 novels are on my list. Of these novels, at least seven have become films. She has also written 8 plays, including Stage Door and Dinner at Eight. I’ve mentioned her before in my blogs, and keep coming back to her over and over, because I love to read about twentieth century women who push gently against the patriarchy, and generally win what they want the most: independence, justice, and respect.

Edna Ferber never married. It looks to me as if she didn’t have time, and knew better than bother with a man who would try to run things. In fact, the only existing biography appears to be one written by her great niece. The book has no photos or references. No doubt Ferber wanted to control that, too.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


Altering the Smile, Blood Pressure Wars and Edna Ferber. Again. — 2 Comments

  1. Over the years, perhaps because of where I live and my own work, Ferber’s Saratoga Trunk has come to feel her most significant work, for both racism and capitalism. It’s so thoroughly the Gilded Age of the US, which should really be called the Age of Horrors, despite all respect to Mark Twain and Dudley Warner. She got it all in there, including what Edith Wharton included in her The Buccaneers. In certain ways it feels as though Showboat and Saratoga are rather more hon in terms of class in this nation, as to the resolutions?

    Going back up to Saratoga this week, in fact. Will visit not only the battlefields where Benedict Arnold pulled out glorious victory, was hideously injured and had the victory taken from him by Gates, but also the cottage where Grant concluded his glorious Memoirs and died almost within hours later.

  2. I went on a Ferber binge early this year. I find that I really like some of her lesser known work as well as the famous ones, particularly Fanny Herself and Dawn. She reminds me of a sort of less strident Sinclair Lewis (I have a slightly shame-faced fondness for Lewis) with a sense of the breadth of the different cultures that made up America at that time–but where Lewis is snide about almost everyone, Ferber has real affection and respect for the people she writes about. Especially the women who–willingly or not–find themselves forging a place for themselves in the world.