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Author Topic: Adventures in Pandemicland  (Read 2412 times)

Offline m1090y

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Adventures in Pandemicland
« on: 16. August 2020, 10:02:34 AM »
I keep thinking there must be pandemic-specific plots or situations that could be told.  I thought if I started it out, maybe others can't help coming up with a scene or short story for this thread.  I'm posting it in the General Section for starters to try to interest more people is making the number of posts to qualify for the Stories Section.  A thread like this allows many people to all collaborate in order to create a mixture of stories, short stories, or perhaps just scenes.  The rules are that the content, other than conforming to forum purpose and rules, must leverage off the pandemic situation, like being shut in at home, wearing masks, weird work conditions and all that.  For example in the stories section, my story, "Locked Down for Saint Patrick's Day" created a corona-like virus that started to destroy people's bites.  (It's story 42 in the 'Exhibitions' thread).  The treatment was...  You guessed it!  I'm contributing the first scene on the subject of masks.

Offline m1090y

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #1 on: 16. August 2020, 10:04:58 AM »
Adventures in Pandemicland, Scene 1.  We Now Have a Plethora of Mask Styles

It used to be that a mask was what your orthodontist or assistant wore and smiled at you while they harnessed up your own smile, however during the Pandemic, mankind's habit of turning things you have to wear into fashion statements ran full speed.  I had a mask with a smile on it.  I had a mask that was black to match some of my outfits.  I had one with flowers on it.  I had disposable ones and washable ones.  I had warm ones and light, breezy ones.  I lived with my Mom, even though I was finished high school and working in a meat packing plant.  Mom lost Dad last year and I was the only daughter she had.  My older brother had moved to the other side of the world and now could not come to visit.

Dad had had more insurance than it took to replace his earnings so my Mom did not have to work any more and he even stipulated in his will that if I wanted to get the long awaited correction to my deep, overbite, then I was to have a sum to pay for that.  Installation happened just before the pandemic caused us to have to stay at home or work from home, and I got fitted with headgear.

I had to get used to it the first week and then could manage all night by the following weekend.  Mum was sitting in the living room with me Sunday evening as we binge-watched some derivation from the 'Friday-The-Thirteenth' movie that was a series of half hour episodes.  I felt for the mother who was in the girl's body and had to figure out how to strap on the headgear after dinner.  The girl, who was now the Mom, laughed at the girl as she walked around in front of the older lady strapped up and very embarrassed, saying, "Mom, I think in about five minutes you are going to whip it off and ask yourself how you could ever have suggested I follow the ortho's instructions so carefully."

My own mother looked at me and said, "Your orthodontist is more practical with his instructions than the girl's in the TV show, but I think there's no reason why you could not wear it now."  I think maybe my orthodontist had mentioned that it if I decided to wear it more, it would certainly get a better result and to do it more quickly as well.  I got up and went to my bedroom to retrieve my own headgear and to do exactly what the girl on the TV had just done.  And it was not like Mom would ask me to wear it all day because I was lucky enough to be deemed an essential worker, as the public needed to be able to buy the meat we packed in the meat packing plant, so I still had to go to work, even if the shifts got all messed up for periodic plant sanitization procedures.  As I sat back on the couch to watch the next scene in the show, Mom looked over at me with a warm smile that faked an appreciation for the pleasant appearance of a new garment I had just put on.

The next morning, after wearing the headgear all evening and all night, I awoke to the relief that my teeth were not hurting unbearably.  They just felt a little tender and of course I felt the pressure on the back teeth from the headgear.  I went into the kitchen and found Mom was already up and sitting on the couch, reading the newspaper she had brought in from the porch.  I said to Mom, "My mouth is feeling rather tender this morning.  I think I will skip breakfast and just have a glass of orange juice."

Mom smiled and said, "Yes, well it's only your second full night in that headgear, so I'm not surprised you are tender.  There's a straw in the cutlery drawer you can use to drink from so you don't have to remove your headgear just yet."  I popped the straw into a glass and filled the glass with orange juice while I thought that Dad would be looking down on me thinking that I was not taking the legacy he had left me in the slightest way lightly.  As I sat down beside Mom, she said, "Look, they have a door crasher sale on baking goods at the grocery store.  You know how popular baking has become since the stay-at-home order was put in place.  You're on afternoons this week, right?  You could go to the store with me and help me bring home a load of baking supplies.  I could make your favorite muffins.  They would be easy on your tender teeth."  I agreed.  An excuse to go out for something other than work sounded inviting, and grocery shopping was one of the few other legitimate reasons to be out.

After I finished my orange juice, Mom rose, getting ready to leave for the store.  I reached for my headgear strap to disconnect it and Mom said, "Oh, dear, you won't have to remove it.  Remember, they made masks mandatory now.  The headgear will be all covered up.  You'll be late getting home tonight and will miss some time wearing it."  Yes, I would.  But making up the lost time in advance while shopping?  I got my mask from beside the door and put it on.  It was the standard disposable type the orthodontist always used.  We'd dispose of them after a grocery trip as the media was telling us that everyone, even if perhaps thinking they may be developing some symptoms, would have to get their groceries, so this was a higher risk place to go.  I put it on and felt covered.  I went to the mirror on the wall by the front door and looked at myself.  There were two silver ends of the face bow and the silver connections from the strap, both bulging out by my ears and the strap did not go back that far to cover them.  I took it off and opened the drawer in the stand under the mirror where we kept other masks.  I had a 'fashon' mask.  It was all black and seemed to go back farther toward the ears where it hooked around them.  I put that on.  It almost covered the entire face bow.  Just the hook at the end popped out around the mask material.  The problem was the fabric.  It was stretchy and clinged to the face.  When I looked at my face, although the face bow was covered, you could see its outline all the way back from the corners of my mouth to the ends where they stuck out from behind the mask.  I took it off and tried another.  This last one was thicker material and not stretchy.  It not only covered the face bow but did not highlight its outline around my cheeks.  Moving my head from side to side to see the area around the ears better, I noticed that the strap to the headgear around my neck was not covered in the least.  I turned to Mom with a look on my face that said this was still not acceptable.  She said to me, "Well that's easy to fix.  Get that ear saver that you use to secure your mask at work that goes around your neck.  I will make an elastic strip out of that black stretchy cord we have in my sewing kit to make a more discrete replacement for your headgear strap."

Ten minutes later she handed me back my ear saver with two black stretchy cords coming away from it and I removed my neck strap and installed this one.  I then put my face mask back on and connected it to the ear saver.  There were now three straps going to either side of the ear saver strip that went around the neck.  The face mask attached to this instead of the ears and one could hardly notice a third cord of the same black color going up to the face mask and disappearing under it.  The material was thick enough that it did not show the impressions of the whiskers of the face bow, so it was seemingly now hidden in the front and faking as an ear saver for the face mask in the back.

To say I felt confident leaving the house in my headgear would be overstating it.  I knew the headgear could not currently be seen, but I was still nervous just of the fact that it was on under the face mask.  We had only just left the house for the car when the nosy old lady, widow Parker, came out of her front door across the street, obviously having been watching out her living room window at the street when we left and had quickly put a mask on.  She marched right down her walk to the road and said from the other side of the street, "What a beautiful morning.  You wouldn't happen to be going to the grocery store, would you?"

Mum said, "Yes, we are, do you need something?"

Widow Parker said, "Well, my son has reminded me I should not go there and to just let him do my shopping because I'm high risk, but it's not that I need something.  I'm just curious to know if the smith boy from down the street is still working there.  I'm concerned he got laid off."  This lady stuck her nose into everybody's business and now was going to have to ask others to do it for her.  Mom agreed, although not that willingly, and we were about to move on when the widow Parker continued, looking at me, "And are you getting to use your inheritance to get your teeth straightened?  I do hope that is working out.  You're so good looking.  It's a pity to let your crooked teeth detract from that."

I didn't like the way she was so blunt at making offensive statements like that, but we tried to be civil with her for fear of having her recount every last statement we made to her out of context so as to make us look bad when she gossiped with others in the neighbourhood.  I said, "Yes, it's getting started."  She simply expressed pleasure at my answer and let us continue to get into the car.

Checking out of the grocery store we managed to spot the 'Smith boy' working cash.  Ethan Smith was a tall, slim but well built, very dark skinned hunk not much older than I and in the past I had sometimes joined a longer line-up just to get to be checked out by him.  Today I would simply take another line as I was too self-conscious to face him in my headgear, even if he could not actually see it.  We were in the line up next to his and would be facing away from him as the cashier rung through our purchases.  Just as we got to be next in line, holding back six feet from the belt to load groceries on until the order in front of us was complete, Ethan had no customers and called over to us that he would take the next customer in our line.  Mom marched quickly over to him and I pushed our cart in front of his belt as Mum started loading everything on.  I held back.  When everything was loaded, Mum would push the cart through and start bagging our purchases, while I handed the cashier our coupons and paid for the order.

I had to stand in front of this hunk, feeling my face bow at my lower lip and not feeling confident that none of my headgear could be detected by him, while we exchanged pleasantries and I gave him the coupons one by one to deduct and then to pay for our order.  He said to me, "You make that fashion mask look quite fetching, and your ear protector makes it look way more comfortable than the junk the store gives us."  I smiled, which he probably only made out as a few wrinkles around the eyes, as well as a single giggle, while he continued, "So anything new going on in the neighborhood?"

I said, "Well, I've only talked to the 'nosy Parker' and she said she was concerned as to whether you got laid off because of the pandemic and to look out for you."

He laughed and said, "No.  Tell her 'hi' and that my hours increased.  They have more staff doing cleaning and sanitization."  And then he changed the subject as he was finishing up, "Last time you were in you said you were getting braces.  How's that working out?  Maybe I will bump into you outside sometime and it will be safe for you to show me."

I was so glad it would be wrong to lift my mask.  If I bumped into him outside, I would likely be going to or from work and would not be wearing my headgear and it would be okay for me to flash just the normal steel braces to him.  I answered him as I was paying, "Yeah, the pain is starting to be tolerable.  Maybe you'll pass me going to work.  I'm on afternoons this week."

I guess I enjoyed our interaction but was glad it was over as we left the store, as I certainly did not want to be that close to him, separated by a plastic shield of course, while wearing headgear, in case he started suggesting I could drop the mask and smile at him for a moment.

Getting back home, Mom parked the car and carried the groceries inside as the widow Parker was coming out and she beckoned me to come to her porch.  She stood there and I was about nine feet away, asking, "So did you see the Smith boy?"

I smiled underneath my mask and behind my headgear and said, "Yes, and he said 'hi' and told me to tell you that his hours increased because of all the sanitization the staff are having to do."

She seemed glad of the 'intel' on the Smith boy and went on to probe, "So, I'm very curious to see what kind of braces you got.  Can you drop your mask for a second and give me a cheesy smile so I can see?"  Is it possible to actually forget you have headgear and don't want to drop your mask even for a second, when you are being interrogated by the widow Parker?  I may have been way more interested in getting this over with and getting home than focusing on NOT doing what she asked.  I slipped the mask down under my chin and smiled.  It was then that I realized the error.  I whipped it back up quickly with a little yelp saying she wasn't supposed to see that.  She took in a breath and announced, "Oh my dear, you poor thing.  I'm surprised they use that on adults.  And they make you wear it all day?"

I was turning red and was suddenly quite humiliated, so just grunted 'uh-huh' and then turned to leave.  I heard her calling after me that she was so sorry I had to get it.  Back home, mask off but ear saver still applying traction to my face bow, I helped Mom put away all the supplies while she asked me if I updated the widow Parker on Ethan.  I said, "Yeah, I did, but then I forgot and when she asked if I would drop my mask so she could see my new braces, I lowered my mask and she saw the headgear.  It was very humiliating!"

Mum took in a breath and said, "But honey, it is worst than that:  The widow Parker is going to take great pleasure in making sure everyone else on the street knows of your getting headgear, in detail!"

Offline m1090y

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #2 on: 20. August 2020, 11:23:24 AM »
I wonder if some people have an idea but have not had the time to write something out in the way of a scene or short story?

One could always share an idea.  Here's one that occurred to me that I may not get time to do anything with:

Idea:

A patient has one of those wide-type orthodontic face masks, and maybe J-hooks as well, perhaps connected to an interlandi headgear.  There are problems properly wearing a pandemic face mask over top of all that and so either the ortho or someone else in the story has to design a custom face mask.  Would it go over top or underneath the orthodontic hardware?

Offline m1090y

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #3 on: 21. August 2020, 14:45:44 PM »
Well, I'm going to be off-grid for a week, so perhaps there will be some new ideas in this thread when I return.  In the meantime, here is another one from me.

Adventures in Pandemicland, Scene 2.  Stop it Coming Out at Night

I thought it was just going to be for me to get used to the headgear, but the timing of the pandemic meant that getting used to the headgear might be a quarter of a year.  I had taken reading week from University in order to get the hardest part of my orthodontic treatment underway.  I had fixed braces since the semester began and had already seen my teeth shift nicely almost into alignment.  But the bite correction was the challenging part and I had opted to use headgear to do that.  The orthodontist had explained to me that headgear was so hard to get results with in University students because it was so hard for the student to get in the habit of wearing it for the prescribed hours, or even EVERY night for that matter.  He suggested that one way to start off a patient was to have them wear the headgear around the clock, only taking the strap off and putting it back on until the initial pain subsided.  I objected to this, saying that although it was reading week and I was home from University to get this part of the treatment started, I would need to be able to take it off a few times during the week to visit friends and to go out once or twice.  He said that was okay.  I therefore assumed that wearing it around the clock must be something I would have to promise to do for the first couple of days.

Doctor Knightfix  said he would use a solution that would be used to keep the face-bow in round the clock, with my agreement, and then after a few days I could come back and he would show me how to make it only do that when I slept.  This sounded more palatable, so I asked him to go ahead.  He fitted the face-bow to my molars, making a few adjustments, but for some reason, continually moving the face-bow out of my sight when making adjustments.  Finally it was sitting in my mouth.  He connected a strap around my neck after adjusting it.  He said he used an unusual model.  It was black like my hair and instead of having the white strips with the holes in it like I had seen on all the YouTube videos I had studied, it had black elastic with silver pieces on the ends that hooked onto ends of the outside bars of the face-bow.  He told me he would show me how to take it out and put it back in when I returned in a couple of days.

There was something that confused me.  How did he expect me to get home?  When I asked him, Doctor Knightfix smiled and said, "You see, you are five seconds into your treatment with it and you already want to take it out.  No.  It stays in until you return and you cannot take it out.  It is permanently attached to your braces at present.  However," his face straightened and he suggested, "I will give you a facemask like so many people are wearing these days to protect against the virus from Asia.  I have one that goes from ear to ear and if you let your hair down, your headgear will be completely covered."  He got up and left me in the chair, feeling suddenly like I had made a huge mistake in agreeing to this.  I grasped the face-bow by my cheeks and began to pull on it, but it was indeed securely fastened to my braces.  There was no give at all.  I was not so worried about just sitting at home studying and reading.  It was getting there, as well as perhaps wanting to have a friend over for a break, or if I had to answer the door.  Doctor Knightfix came back in at that point, carrying a black mask with silver trim.  It was really quite stylish.  He said to me, "I had these custom made.  The decorative silver trim is supposed to confuse an observer if you accidentally move it enough to expose the face-bow."  He put the facemask on me, connecting its elastics strap to the hooks on the headgear strap to use it as an ear reliever and then I let my hair down.  He examined me and proclaimed, "There, you certainly don't look like any patient of mine now."  He handed me a little glossy book that was entitled, 'how to manage fixed-in headgear', saying, "This booklet contains all sorts of helpful tips you'll need over the next couple of days from eating to bathing in fixed headgear.  Now remember, the purpose of fixing it in is for you to show yourself that you can:  wear it when you are awake; wear it when you are eating and drinking; wear it when you are asleep, and wear it if you have company, go visiting or outdoors.  When it gets too painful, as it will every couple of hours over the next few days, simply remove the strap for a couple of hours.  Make an appointment for a few days from now as you leave so it fits in with your social obligation later this week and we'll end the fixed-in phase of your headgear treatment then."

As I walked home, I became more aware of the number of people wearing facemasks.  At one point, I was standing, waiting for the crosswalk signal to change, when a guy joined me.  He looked about my age and he smiled at me and said, "I really have to get me a mask.   They say this virus thing could get really bad any time now.  But yours looks really cool, not like those blue and white ones that the dental assistant always wears.  Where did you get it?"

I stammered a little as I tried to come up with an answer for him.  I finally said, "My dentist had them custom made.  I guess you have to be a patient to be able to get one."  The guy groaned and the light changed.  As we started to walk, he asked me if I felt it really worked.  I said, "Yeah, I think it does."   I meant that it did work in keeping him from seeing that I had orthodontic headgear on under it, but he would have assumed I was referring to it preventing me from exhaling any virus that I might be spreading.

When I got home, I was suddenly glad that my parents were away visiting Mum's parents.  They would not return until I had got this fixed-in headgear un-fixed and I would only be wearing it at night.  They would likely not even see it as I would only be wearing it up in my loft where I slept.  I removed my mask and put my things away, sitting down to read the booklet on how to tolerate this fixed-in headgear for a couple of days.  Brushing teeth and flossing would be quite the adventure, but they had given me floss strips with stiff ends for threading.  Bathing would not be an issue as I had showered before going to my appointment and would not do so again until after the next one.  I had prepared for eating by shopping for ingredients for smoothies.  I put it aside, wanting to turn my attention to something far less relevant.  What did I look like?  It didn't really matter because I was not going to be seen in it, but still, I was curious.  Going into the bathroom, I got a bit of a shock.  This huge-feeling steel structure invading my mouth did in fact look hideous, but it certainly looked much smaller than it felt.  I studied my mouth.  The thickest part of the thing was right at my lips where the bar that went inside my mouth joined the bar around my face.  It sat just below my top teeth so if I smiled, one could see the steel of the braces, which I was now accustomed to seeing in the mirror, but now below it was quite a lot more steel.  When I closed my mouth, it held my lower lip down a little and my upper one had to move down further to meet it.  I watched myself put my hair up into a ponytail and found that the strap looked quite large against my neck.  Yes, hair had to be down when I made the return trip to un-fix the face-bow in a couple of days.  But what if it was a windy day?

I muddled through the rest of that day, studying, reading and doing some chores around the house.  I had to remove the strap for a couple of hours three times that day, especially in the evening before going to bed, as it could get pretty sore during the night and I wanted to sleep as long as possible before being woken up in pain.  In fact it had to be removed halfway through the night and was off when I awoke in the morning.  Although getting boring faster than I had anticipated, studying and reading and doing chores consumed the day and I decided to take the evening off and watch TV.  I'm glad I stopped channel surfing when I encountered the local news.  The lead story was on the virus we had been hearing had been starting to spread.  They announced that citizens were required to stay at home and all businesses but essential services were required to close.  They further announced that we were not allowed to go visiting or have visitors in our homes, nor gather outside more than a few people.  We could go to the hospital if our life was in danger, or go out once a week to buy groceries.  I had stocked up prior to starting my headgear treatment so would be fine for over a week.  The only problem for me would be not visiting friends.  I now started to have visions of me going stark raving mad from having no other human contact in the foreseeable future.  And then the news included the impact on schools and Universities.  All closed!  I would not be going back.

I watched a comedy show after the news.  There was nothing I had to do any time soon because of the pandemic lock-down order.  I just had to continue with my studying, although for how much longer than reading week, who knew.  I was able to keep the strap on for part of the night and then again most of the next morning.  I was living off smoothies and a few other soft things I could eat while the face-bow formed a barricade against chewing with the thick bars running back to my molars from the front of my mouth.  My studies were going well, maybe better than expected.  Having headgear fixed in to force one to bear with it around the clock also discouraged distractions like having friends over or going out visiting, not that the stay-at-home order didn't compound that.  The one thing you were allowed to go out for other than groceries was a walk around the block for exercise.  Headgear was turning me into a sort of studying couch potato.

I woke up the next morning having only taken the strap off for about two hours during the night.  I was encouraged by my progress at building up the hours per day of strap wear.  Waking up the next morning and having breakfast, I reviewed the orthodontic progress in my mind.  I was wearing headgear and my mouth got used to having it always there.  The molars were used to the constant force on them and I was not in much pain, simply finding the teeth were tender if I attempted to chew anything.  It was easy to imagine that if I had been taking the face-bow out frequently, I would have found it quite annoying every time I put it back in.  I would have made all these excuses to take it out for things like eating, drinking, washing, showering and maybe even for a difficult section in my studying.  Yes, this fixing it in for the time you were getting used to it certainly seemed to be effective.  And today I would graduate to the stage where I could remove it when I needed to.

I recalled seeing a news item about procedures at a medical clinic where patients needed to arrive just in time for their appointment and then wait in their car until exactly the minute of the appointment, then go to the door and wait for a nurse to direct them in, whereupon they would be made to sanitize and be escorted to a freshly sanitized examination room for the doctor.  I called my orthodontist's office with the expectation of being told of some similar protocol on account of the pandemic.  What I got was a recording explaining that the office had to close, as orthodontics was not considered an essential service.  The government had determined that patients would suspend all adjustments until afterwards.  Installation and removals could easily be delayed.  Presumably treatment time would be dragged out by a similar period of time.  But what was I going to do?  My appointment was to get my face-bow un-fixed so that I could begin to take it out when I needed to!  Would I have to have my face now fixed in for the weeks or months that the stay-at-home order was in place?

I hung up the phone after listening to the entire message.  I paced around the house thinking of everything this would mean.  Actually I hadn't completely thought out what an extended period of being confined to the home would mean.  My parents would not be coming home.  My friends could not visit.  And worst of all, I would be trapped in my headgear all this time!

The phone rang.  It was my parents.  Mum and Dad were each on a different handset.  Mum asked a lot of questions about how I was getting on.  I had to hold the phone carefully so that the face-bow did not bang into it near the microphone.  I explained that studying was going quite well, but that I was rather scared of the prospects of the stay-at-home order.  I then got a sudden panic as I realized that if I could not get my headgear off, I would be wearing it around my parents ALL the time when they returned.  Dad then started to explain that they were not allowed to return home and would be shut in with my grandma.  They didn't have much else to talk about, obviously rather upset themselves about not being able to return home.

I was starting to feel claustrophobic.  It was not just the staying at home, but also the being trapped in the headgear, hiding in the home also to hide myself from the world.  I had to fight back!  I got the mask that I wore home two days prior and fitted it to my face over my fixed-in headgear.  I went to the bathroom and let my hair down out of its ponytail and brushed it neatly down over my shoulders.  I dashed outside and just breathed, standing on the front doorstep.  See!  I wasn't locked in, not into the house, anyway.  I continued down to the road and headed in the direction of the local park.  When I got there, all the swings were tied together with caution tape and a sign declared the park was closed.  I walked around the grassy area, around the few trees to one side of the park.  I noticed the small wild animals hanging around and heard the birds chirping.  These guys were carrying on with life as normal, unaware of the pandemic going on.  I wandered slowly amongst the trees and contemplated things.  Maybe I could arrange with a friend to meet me here and we could talk.  The news said that we all should wear masks.  I could always claim I had a risk factor.  Maybe I could say I had a slight asthma problem and that I understood that made me a little more susceptible to the virus and so I would be keeping my mask on every second I was out.  Yes, I should try this.  I wanted so badly to see my friends I left at home when I went to University.

When I got home I felt refreshed but when I removed the mask and caught a glance of myself in the mirror, I was reminded of the face-bow, that, unlike the mask, wasn't just worn when I was told to, but was forcibly fixed to me so I could not remove it.  My phone buzzed and it was a text from one of the good friends I had wanted to see right after my headgear was un-fixed.  I mentioned the idea of the park.  She seemed to like that idea but offered that if I wanted to visit in her back yard, it was quite private because of all the trees and hedges and so on around the outside.  I longed to do that.  We were allowed to meet outside if we kept our distance, and in her back yard, we would not need to wear masks if we kept at least six feet apart at all times.  I thought for quite some time about her text.  If I was trapped in this headgear for this long, I would eventually have to have someone see it.  Surely this could not go on indefinitely where I hid at home and wore a mask the rest of the time.  Masks weren't completely mandatory outside and my walks would be much more enjoyable if I were mask free, even more enjoyable if I were headgear free, but that seemed an unattainable situation right now.  I texted her back and with several long texts, I recounted the story of my braces and then my fixed-in headgear and the closing of the orthodontist's office due to the pandemic.

My friend explained that her little brother had one in junior high and she remembered his reluctance to wear it and the battles with the parents.  She begged me to come over to her place and promised not to make me feel uncomfortable.  It was not a problem to walk over there and to text her when I arrived, whereupon she told me to come through the gate around the side of the house and meet her on the deck.  I sat there in my mask, not quite ready to remove it.  Jo was out a moment later and found she could not hold in a laugh.  She tried to suppress it and said, "I promised not to laugh at your headgear, but that mask!  It's huge!  It covers all the way back and a little around the ears.  Where did you get it?"

She was not wearing a mask as was okay if we kept apart and stayed outside.  Now I felt uncomfortable in my mask.  I answered her, "The mask was supplied by the orthodontist as it more completely covers the face-bow all the way to the ends of the outside bars."

Jo went serious and said, "Oh.  That was nice of him.  So now the hard part.  You can remove the mask here and I promised I would not make you feel uncomfortable."  I hesitated and then realized I had to do this.  I reached for the place where the mask attached to the orthodontist's specially designed combination headgear strap and ear reliever.  I unhooked the straps of the mask and slowly lowered it to my lap.  Jo smiled slightly, but nervously, and then ventured, "Well that does not look nearly as bad as on my little brother.  In fact it kind of looks cool on you.  And I like your hair down like that."  She paused in thought as I smiled, not knowing what to say.  She added, "So how are you getting on with it?  And what's the idea of fixing it permanently.  Do you have some special problem or something?"

I explained the theory behind fixing it in for the first couple of days and she understood, citing her brother's case as an example of not getting fully used to it.  We talked a little about my treatment, then about my coping with staying at home and finally about college life.

Suddenly there was a face at the patio door but I could not see who it was because of glare on the window.  Before I could get my mask back on, the door slid open and Jo's brother, Josh rushed out.  Having a best friend's little brothers see me in my headgear was exactly the kind of confrontation I had dreaded most.  Josh said in an excited voice, "My headgear never came close to being that hot.  You really rock it.  I looked such a dork!"  I thanked him and relaxed my arm down from where I had momentarily tried to shield myself from him seeing it, which he had done before I could raise my arm.

Jo said to me, "If we were allowed to get any closer, maybe Josh would be able to figure out how it is fixed in and maybe release it."  She then recounted to him how I had explained the two days of getting used to it and the pandemic closing down the ortho office.

Josh thought about it quickly and said, "Well if I wore a mask and Jo held a shield of plastic between us, I could look in and see what I could do."  And with that he was gone.  He soon came out with a flimsy sheet of plastic from the junk pile in the basement and got a rake from the shed and duct-taped the plastic to the end of the rake.  He instructed Jo, "Now you hold this rake at the very end of its handle and hang the plastic just in front of the headgear and then I will stand right in front of it and reach around."  He handed Jo the rake and then ran back inside saying he needed to wash his hands for twenty seconds.

I stood up and Jo positioned the shield in front of me when Josh came back out, having to leave the sliding door open because he could not touch it and he stood right up close to the shield.  He reached his clean hands around and I opened my mouth halfway.  He pulled back my cheek and got me to tip my head up.  He said, "Yes, I figured as much.  That is the same kind of face-bow I had.  It locked at night so it could not come out and injure me.  I can't see, though, how they've fixed it in other than to engage the night locks.  Have you tried unclipping the night locks?"

He let go of my cheek and I answered, "Night locks?  They never told me anything about the face-bow.  They said when I returned, they would show me how to take it out and put it back in."

Josh laughed and put his fingers back in my mouth.  He plucked at something with his fingernail on each side and then took his hands away and said, "Okay, try to get it out now."  He backed away and Jo put the rake and shield down at the side of the deck.  I reached around to my whiskers and unhooked the little black stretchy cords coming from the ear reliever, putting the ear reliever on the facemask which I had put on the arm of the deck chair.  I then reached up to the face-bow and put my fingers on the outside bars near my cheeks.  I started to put pressure outwards on it and it budged and stopped.  I then wiggled it from side to side and it did finally come out.  I lay it on the arm of the deck chair to the applause of the other two.

I was free of the headgear!  Looking at it and feeling the freedom at my mouth and around my neck, I asked Josh, "So now how do I get it back in tonight?"

Josh asked me to wait a sec and he ran back into the house.  A moment later he had washed his hands and had a mirror on a stand, probably from Jo's bedroom and he put it on the ledge at the top of the railing around the deck.  He said, "Look into the mirror and try to get the ends of the inside bars into the tunnels on your back teeth.  Then reconnect your neck strap."  I tried this with the other two standing well back.  I got one side in but could not get the other side in and Josh called over that you usually have to squeeze it so it will line up.  I did this and soon had it in.  There.  The face-bow was back in my mouth and between the lips as usual.  This now felt normal again, although very embarrassing to have in front of the other two.  Josh then said, "Those clips can be put on the bars behind the tunnels to keep it in if you are sleeping.  I usually clipped mine on because the clips sometimes irritated my cheeks."  I tried but could not get the first one to clip on.  Josh saw this and said, "So how about we put the shield back in front of you.  You hold the mirror and watch as I clip it on."  Jo positioned the shield as I turned to face it and I held the mirror in my hand.  Josh stood up quite close to me and again reached his hands around the shield and into my mouth.  I watched what he did and he made it look easy.  I dictated to myself, 'push it up; push it in; and help it to spring down.'  When he had one side in, I tried it on the other as Josh watched.  He did not step away.  I stood there for a moment waiting for him to step back as we had completed re-installing my face-bow.  He said to me very quietly, "I wish for some reason you were our boarder.  Then I'd be able to be this close to you without a shield or mask.  Do you have any idea how hot you are?  My sister's going to make me go away any minute, I'm sure."  As he stepped back and the shield was taken away, I dipped my gaze and found another part of Josh was trying to talk to me.  Damn the pandemic and social distancing!

When Jo started to coax Josh into leaving, I suggested it was nice to be out of shut-in and being with people, and maybe it was okay for him to stay.  I practiced taking my face-bow out again but after a while, Josh commented that if there had been a pandemic with a stay-at-home order when he had headgear, perhaps he would have worn it a lot when shut in and sped up his treatment.  As it had been, he often wore it when he played video games in his room.  I found I had it back in again and Josh commented on the strap, admiring its dual purpose.

On the walk back home that day, I got thinking about the fixed-in arrangement.  Wouldn't you think the orthodontist would have phoned or emailed me about how to end the fixed-in phase?  He could have sent pictures over Email.  It wasn't fixed-in at all.  The patient just had not been shown how to operate the locks to remove it.  It would have been a cool trick if it weren't for the pandemic!

Offline duncombec

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #4 on: 22. August 2020, 02:42:59 AM »
Adventures in Pandemicland, Scene 3.  The Twins

I remember now how I laughed when my brother first suggested it. Braces? At 25? Surely he had to be joking. We both needed them as children, both started with a removable plate, both decided we didn't want to graduate to fixed braces... I mean, that's the sort of thing near-identical twins did, right? It wouldn't be the done thing for one of us to have had braces and pearly white teeth and the other not. I say near identical because there were one or two things about us that were different, but unless you knew us both well and we happened to be standing next to each other, we thought that we were more or less identical. An inch on height here, a crooked eyebrow there, that sort of thing.

When you're an identical twin, it's hard not to do the same things. Even though we went to different universities and started out with different careers, there were still similarities. We both started working out. We both got a tattoo. We even both had the same haircut, even though we were going to different barbers. He joined the military, I just liked the look. When he came out, that's when he had the idea. Although I laughed to start with, it did seem to be the one part of us that wasn't quite right. We were working out, eating well, and then we smiled and the good work we were putting into our bodies came unstuck. I tried everything I could to get out of it, but nothing seemed to work. I tried age, he found some newspaper article about how adult braces were increasing. I cited cost, and our parents offered to pay, especially as the local office was doing a "buy one, get one half price" offer. I suggested our image, and my brother had an answer for that as well. Eventually, I agreed. After all, it was what identical twins did.

We started on the same day. Can you imagine the funny looks we got in the waiting room? Already having a good five years, if not ten, on most of the patients, we walked in and you got two of us, except to most people we were one. We both sat there, arms the size of most of these kids' legs, looking thoroughly menacing yet also totally out of place. It was almost a relief to be called in and have them start looking at our teeth.

It seemed our teeth weren't quite identical. Sure, they looked fairly similar to outsiders, but my crowding was caused by my wisdom teeth pushing my teeth forward, he didn't even have any wisdom teeth (a skeletal deficiency, it seems), yet his teeth had grown as though they did. For once, something different. Well, until they whipped them out, of course, which took place a few days later. I felt like I was in a daze as I was driven back home (by my brother, of course), with my mouth full of cotton wool and my head still in the clouds. One thing they had managed to find different about us, and it has been taken away. Surgically. Typical.

The braces soon went on. It wasn't as though we had much of a choice as to what they offered. The orthodontist we chose was a no-nonsense sort of guy, and it seemed he didn't go in for all those "clear aligners and ceramic braces and stuff". Now I understood why we looked so out of place, because teenagers get metalwork and adults go for something more aesthetically pleasing. We were going to get a tingrin, and that was final. Our treatment plans sounded decidedly boring. Metal brackets, elastics, couple of years, probably a bit longer than 2 as we were adults, and then retainers.

Being who we were, we decided we needed a way for people to tell us apart with our newfound hardware, so he opted for a teal-green sort of colour, and I had navy blue. It was my favourite colour, and I guess there is always a bit of inner teenager in all of us. Surprisingly, his green didn't look too bad - certainly not like as though he had forgotten to clean his teeth after eating. We didn't change it up very much, and by a few months in even the orthodontist's assistants didn't bother asking any more. Sean got blue, and Steve got green. Then they fitted us with elastics. The square box at the front, around our canines, was an absolute killer, but the two that stretched back from the canines to the lower molars were fine. Again, to make sure we didn't get confused, they were different colours. I decided I should just get on with it and had blue elastics, whilst Steve preferred the normal latex type. I wore mine pretty much as I should, despite the difficulties, and as far as I knew, I thought Steve was as well. His teeth seemed to be moving slower than mine, but I guessed that was because his molars didn't have extraction holes to slip into easily, or however it was braces worked.

A few months ago, we thought it would be funny, and confuse everyone, if we swapped over. We told the assistants straight away, and they agreed that it would be pretty cool. So, I left with green colours (but still with my blue elastics), and Steve left with blue colours (but still with his latex elastics). Everyone had a chortle, and learned that for that month, they had to tell us apart by the colour of our elastics, not by the colour of our ligatures. Deciding to carry on a theme, as our next appointment rolled around, we decided that we'd see how well the ortho staff remembered, and swap elastics as well. So I now had Steve's green ligatures and Steve's latex elastics, and vice-versa.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to begin with, and there was a low partition between the chairs, so you couldn't really see what was going on next door. Steve and I had no idea what the other was getting until we saw each other. The ortho came and checked us both, then called his assistants over. They came back and got to work. I noticed my appointment seemed to be taking longer than Steve's this time, as his assistant had already rolled back before I was done. Things felt weird. They took a bracket off, and then placed a different sort of part on my teeth. It was like the bands they'd used on our molars for anchorage. Well, I say a bracket, I should really say a bracket each side, but they managed to put the two replacements on at once. I guessed it was something like a friend had worn at school, a little arch across the top of my mouth to keep the molars the same width apart as they moved them around. Then there was something else, that he kept taking out and putting in. I couldn't really feel what it was. Eventually, though, they left it in.

The ortho came over and checked us both, and after telling Steve he was good to go with more of the same, he started telling me about the changes to my braces. He seemed concerned that my teeth weren't moving as they perhaps should, and considered that I had a tongue thrust, especially as I'd said I wore my elastics all the time. He'd there for fitted something called a tongue crib behind my front teeth to stop my tongue from pushing on them. To help the molars move back, he'd decided I needed the 'big daddy' of all appliances, headgear. At this point, Steve was laughing so much he was nearly crying at the thought of me having the most obvious orthodontic appliance going. I was just shocked, too shocked to realise what he was saying. I was wearing my elastics all the time, so maybe my tongue did press against my teeth. Maybe my teeth looked to have moved more, but they were somehow moving incorrectly. I was shocked, he was happy, and after the very embarrassing lesson in how to use headgear at the practice mirror, we drove home. Steve was still laughing his head off so much I thought I had better drive, and just threw the paperwork they gave me on the back seat. I didn't have any spare elastics now, as they thought the headgear for 16 hours a day would be enough to get used to. It was just me and headgear, and an inability to say my own name. "My name ith Thawn". Steve made me say it at least three times before I threatened to punch him. I couldn't say his either, Thethve, with also made him laugh.

My parents showed little inquisitive interest. As far as they were concerned, everything was necessary. If my teeth weren't moving and I needed headgear, so be it. It was only later that evening, when I finally started to look through the paperwork we were given, that I realised something wasn't right. I just got this feeling. In amongst the usual pre-printed leaflets there was a plain white envelope which seemed to contain a letter from the ortho. I opened the envelope and took the letter out. Immediately I realised what it was. "THETHVE!" He came rushing in, laughing at my lisp, still. I handed the letter to him. "You were thuposthed to geth this, not me!" It was quite clearly there in black and white. "Dear Steve."

There was nothing we could do that evening, so I just had to deal with it as best I could and phone them the next day. That was a Saturday, so it was their emergency line only. The ortho himself answered, and when I explained the situation, you could have heard a pin drop. Neither he nor the assistants had used our names. He hadn't said Steve or Sean at any point. Indeed, his first question was "but you had green braces... and latex elastics... and..." He asked me to hold, and then got our records. Sure enough, there it was, the fact that we'd swapped colours last time. "But... the elastics..." I laboriously explained that for a joke, we'd swapped. It seemed like the joke was on us now. He apologised profusely, but said he couldn't see me today, or indeed on Monday, as he was fully booked. He could see me first thing Tuesday morning, and he'd take out the tongue crib. My elastics were working really well. I wasn't too happy about having an extra 72 hours in it, but needs must, I suppose. He apologised again, and I counted down the hours until Tuesday. Somehow, even though he knew he might be for it next time, Steve still found it funny. So much so, our parents had to tell him to act his age more than once over the course of the weekend.

Except Tuesday never came. It did, of course, the world didn't end, but it didn't come with an orthodontist's appointment. On Monday night, we entered 'lockdown'. "The virus", which had been slowly spreading around the world, had case numbers that were doubling almost by the day. All non-essential businesses had to close, people had to work from home, all sorts of things were restricted. I started to get very nervous indeed.

I rang the orthodontist first thing the following morning. He confirmed my worst fears. As well as numerous braces going on, braces coming off, and other adjustments that really needed to be made, he couldn't see me to take off the tongue crib. I could remove the headgear, of course, but I only had a few days worth of elastics left, and I'd still be left with the tongue crib. He thought for a moment, and ultimately came to the conclusion it would be better for me to wear it. The tongue crib wouldn't do any harm to my teeth, just make my tongue uncomfortable. The headgear... that could be more problematic, but not terribly so. If I didn't wear it 24/7 or anything like that, and checked in once a month with a video call once they had worked out how to do that (and bought the kit, given the entire world was now trying to buy webcams and fancy software), they could do their best to make sure I didn't end up "over correcting", whatever that was (although I could guess). Of course, Steve found this funny.

I haven't over-corrected yet, and I have to say, there is part of me that will miss the headgear when we eventually get back to have an appointment. The tongue crib I would happily remove myself if I knew how, and when it comes off I have an unceasing desire to crush it beneath my feet so it can never see the light of day again. But the headgear? My headgear? Maybe I might just ask if it would help if I kept it a little longer... after all... once Steve gets his fitted we'll have to look the same, won't we?

This pretty much came out of my head in one go after a stroke of inspiration earlier today. Strictly speaking, some of the orthodontia might not match the diagnosis, and there is questionable record-keeping on the part of the orthodontist, but hopefully this doesn't detract too much!

Offline Braceface2015

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #5 on: 27. August 2020, 16:26:31 PM »
This is part of a larger story, but it also fits here. This can be read without reading the rest of the story.

I still have to finish part two of this one, so be patient. If you are interested, this is chapter 7 of  The Ride-Share Driver - The Epidemic

Adventures in Pandemicland, Scene 4 - Part 1

Candice


I have been playing with the controls to the camera and the screen since I got in and found out that the driver and his assistant were watching me. I didn't let on that I knew that they could see me. Instead, I pretended that I was using the camera and screen as a mirror to examine my face and makeup, and of course, my orthodontic jewelry.

With all the restrictions in place because of the epidemic, I haven’t been able to get out and display my smile. At work, even with the face shields that we wear, I still can’t get close enough to anyone to let them completely see what I have in my mouth. The bars are all closed and they have no idea when they can open, so one place that I used to get enjoyment is no longer available to me. Restaurants aren’t much better. The fast-food places are all encouraging us to use the drive-through windows and the few that are allowing people inside are just doing take-out orders.

The grocery stores used to be my favourite place to flash my smile at people, but the aisles are all one-directional now and I can’t smile at people as we pass each other. It was so much fun to watch their reaction to seeing all the metal of the Herbst appliance. Now, any time that I get at all close to anyone, they just glare at me before they turn around and hurry in the other direction.

Today, at work, it was such a thrill to be serving the nice couple with all their orthodontic jewelry, especially when I saw that the guy had jewelry like mine. I did my best to make sure that he got to look at my mouth whenever I got near him. Unfortunately, there were just too few chances, but I did my best. I liked what the girl was displaying, but her smile was less interesting to me, even if her brackets were the large type.

I was glad when I checked the ride-share app and found that a new driver had become available. Lately, it has been hard getting rides after work, mainly because there just aren’t very many vehicles out there that have been altered to meet the new laws. Most people just aren’t willing to put the shields around the driver’s area.

The bad thing was that it was listed as a premium ride and I just don’t have that kind of money to spend on a ride home. I looked at the picture of the ride and saw that it was a limo. The details say that the passenger area is completely isolated from the driver’s area and that there is a video intercom for communication. I was just about to see if there are any other rides available when I saw the picture of the driver. He looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him, and then it clicked. He was the good-looking guy from the restaurant. In the picture, he wasn’t smiling and he was in uniform, which is why I didn’t recognize him right away.

I looked at the price of the ride and decided to spend the money anyway. I figure this may be one of the only times that I get to ride in a limo, and since I have a couple of stops to make anyway, it would be nice to do it in style. I clicked on the link to request a ride and waited for the confirmation to arrive. When it does, the cost has changed. It is considerably lower than it was originally.

My night had just improved. I would get to see the cute guy again and maybe I would get a chance to flash my smile at him, this time under better conditions. There was enough time to get changed out of my uniform and make myself more presentable. Fortunately, I would have to wear a mask until I have left the restaurant. The good part about wearing the mask is that it would cover my face-bow. I enjoy wearing the mask only because of the thrill I get when I remove it and anyone that is close to me gets a sudden surprise view of the face-bow protruding from my mouth.

I was just fastening the neckstrap to my face-bow when the ride-share app alerted me that my ride was here. I hurried outside and was surprised to see that it was the girl waiting for me, not the cute-looking guy. I just kind of ignored her, barely listening to her explanation of the intercom.

I played with the touch-screen for a while and found that it worked very much like my cell-phone. I fluff up my hair a little and check to make sure that the neckstrap is covered. The first stop is the bank and it is only a short ride, so I don’t bother to take off my mask. When we arrive, the door is opened for me by the girl and she follows me to the bank door, then waits outside while I am at the ATM.

When we walk back to the car, I can tell that she is looking closely at my face, as if she can tell that there is something unusual about it. I smile behind the mask, enjoying the sense of anticipation that I am feeling.

The next stop is a grocery store. It is open quite late and has curbside delivery, so I ordered everything earlier so that I could pick it up on my way home. I fiddle with the touch-screen, splitting it so that I can see their reaction to me taking off my mask in half the screen, as well as seeing the same thing that they are seeing in the other half.

I still don’t let on that I know that they are watching me and act as if I am using the screen as a video mirror. There is an icon at the bottom of the screen that says ‘Intercom’, so I touch it and say, “Hello? Can you hear me? Did I press the right button?”

I have to really struggle to maintain a straight face as I see her talking. I don’t remember her smile being this interesting in the restaurant, and I definitely would have remembered her having jewelry like this in her mouth.

“Would it be okay if I stayed in here at the next stop? Everything has already been ordered and paid for, all that has to be done is to have it brought out to me.”

When she replies that it would be okay and asks if there is anything else, I pretend that I don’t know that they are watching and shake my head. Then my fun begins. I giggle and say, “Oops. No, that’s all. I guess I have to talk since you can’t see me?”

Then I reach up and remove my mask. From the corner of my eye, I watch their reaction to the face-bow that is exposed and enjoy what I see. I zoom the camera in a little so that I can check out my teeth then zoom out a little and check my lipstick and the rest of the makeup on my face. My lipstick is a little messy, so I take my time fixing it, making sure that I open and close my mouth quite a few times. When I see that we are getting near the store, I call the number to let them know to bring out the order.

While we are waiting, I play with the screen and see a button for 'video intercom', so I touch that and the border around the second window changes colour. I look at the second window this time when I ask if it would be okay if we make another stop. Since I have the camera zoomed in on my mouth and lower face, I know where he is looking, so I run my tongue over my lower teeth until it reaches the pistons of my Herbst and pushes my cheek out, exposing more of my face-bow. I adjust the position of my head until I am showing as much of the hardware in my mouth as I can.

Offline m1090y

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #6 on: 30. August 2020, 12:46:55 PM »
Wow, two great story ideas leveraging on the pandemic:  Being fitted with headgear as part of a miss-identification of the patient and then not being able to get it corrected;  and people who have not qualified for the story section have missed out on all the story segments from multiple authors in The Ride-Share Driver -- it's a great advert for that section of the forum.  Thanks.

Offline Miketehcat

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #7 on: 03. September 2020, 17:48:22 PM »
I love the story about being fitted with the tongue crib. The idea that you could be fitted with an unnecessary appliance, and then have to put up with at the start of the pandemic for however long - it's a really cool topic! Thanks for writing and posting.

Offline Braceface2015

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #8 on: 10. September 2020, 19:49:08 PM »
This is part two of scene 4 of adventures in panemic land and the continuation of The Ride-Share Driver - The Epidemic - Chapter 8

Candice

I pick up my cell phone and send a text to an ‘anonymous’ number. The number that I use is forwarded to another number that changes frequently and is almost impossible to trace. The reply takes only a few minutes to come. I now have the address of an after-hours marketplace.

I smile at the camera, knowing that they both can see me, and ask, “How would you like to join me in an unscheduled stop? I think that you both will enjoy it, and I can make it worth your time.”

They both look at each other and I get a better look at their mouths, this time from the side. My concentration is on her mouth first. I don't remember her having bands on her teeth before, and I definitely would have taken notice of such an unusual look.

I would like to be able to zoom in a little on her mouth, but I don’t have access to the controls of their camera. One of them mutes the audio and all I can do is watch as they talk to each other. I do get quite a few good glimpses into their mouths, since they are facing each other and the camera picks their mouths from the side.

I concentrate on her mouth, checking out all the spectacular metal-work on her teeth. There are definitely metal bands on her teeth and the brackets welded to them look bigger than the style that is used nowadays. When she tilts her head back and opens her mouth more, the light from the screen between them glints off of the bands on the inside of her teeth. I am confused by how I could miss such a marvellous display of orthodontic jewellery when she was at the restaurant, but there is absolutely no way that she could have had braces this elaborate installed in such a short time.

When he replies to her comment, I get a look into his mouth as well. His smile is interesting, but not as interesting as her mouth. I do like how the larger brackets and heavier pistons look. They do make a nice couple, especially with their unusual and similar orthodontic enhancements. They seem to come to an agreement and the sound comes back on.

"We don't want to stay too long, but we will escort you as you ask. If you give me the location, we can enter the change in travel directions now."

While I am giving her the new location, I am paying attention to her mouth. I am a bit envious of her smile. All the metal that she has on display is fascinating and I wish that it had been possible to get the same thing, but every orthodontist that I saw used the more modern styles of self-ligating brackets, and the few that did have the older style that used ligatures to hold in the archwires, only had the small type of bracket available.

Even a search of the internet had failed to turn up any place that even mentioned anything this intricate other than some old stories from some old dial-up website and a couple of very poor quality pictures. While I have been daydreaming, we have arrived at an industrial park with a guard at the gate. From having been to other weekend markets, I knew that security is tight and nobody gets in unless they have an entry code. Fortunately, I had received one before we arrived.

I roll down my window and flash the guard a face-bow enhanced smile as I show him the code on my phone. I get one in return, though his smile is visible through a mask that has a plastic window sewn into it that shows his lip piercings. His uniform looks authentic, but it is hard to tell if it is real. The people who come to these markets are not your typical people. Some of them are quite well off, others live on the fringe of society. The one thing they all have in common is their enjoyment of the unusual.

The reason for the security guard at the gate is that not everything sold, traded or provided was legal, especially now that the epidemic was so much of a concern. After verifying my code, he hands me a sheet with the rules, returns to the gate and lets us in. From the street, it looks as if nobody is around, but when we reach the middle of the complex, there are quite a few vehicles parked around the edge of the parking lot. One side is parking for the people shopping here, the rest is lined with busses, vans, trucks and semis.

Before we get out, I ask my escorts, "Do you have masks that you can wear? They won't let us shop without them."

They both nod and hold up plain cloth masks similar to what I was wearing when they picked me up. It is a shame that they have to cover up their smiles, but I intend to change that very soon. If what the guard at the gate is wearing is an indication of what I expect to find for sale, then very soon we wiĺl all have new masks to wear.

I carefully place my mask over my face-bow, making sure that my driver can see what I am doing on his screen. It is turning out to be quite a thrill having the ability to let my exhibitionist side out in such a safe and yet intimate way. Out in public, I could never let people get this up close and detailed a look at the orthodontic jewellery that I have.

It isn't long before my door opens and I step out into the company of my two escorts. It is a bit of a letdown not being able to see their enhanced smiles behind the masks, and more of a downer that I can't show mine off. At least there is a good chance that I can change that soon.

They trail behind me as we begin to wander around, looking at all the stuff that people have, some on tables, others in the back of their vans and pickups. There are a few converted school buses that have been set up as mobile stores and it is there that I head first. I recognise a couple of the buses by the way that they are painted, and one of them is the one that I was hoping would be here.

The lady who owns it makes custom jeweĺery and I asked her to make me a set of earrings that  go with my braces. I gave her a few ideas of what I might like and she said she would see what she could do. When I knock on the door, she looks through the window, and seeing who it is, smiles and opens the door. She is wearing one of the masks that has the plastic window in it.

"Come in, come in. I have something for you to look at. I think that it is just what you asked for." She reaches under the built-in counter and takes out a cloth-lined box. Inside is a set of stud earrings that look just like the brackets that the guy has on his teeth, including a section of heavy archwire and a bright silver ligature. “I also made a second pair, something that you might find interesting.” Then she lifts a piece of cloth and uncovers another pair of earrings, this set a wide small hoop style that would fit snug to the earlobe. This set is made in the shape of a molar band, including the bracket and headgear tube, again with a heavy square section of archwire and this time a black ligature on the bracket. The studs are done in silver, the hoops in gold.

"The ligatures are removable, so you can change them to match your outfit. I got the ligatures from one of the other merchants. He makes things that use them."

When the girl sees the hoop earrings, I hear her inhale sharply.

“I think that we have a little more browsing to do, so could you hold onto those for me for a little while yet. I have a feeling that you will be selling both sets,” I say, smiling behind my facemask. “Where did you get the facemask? I’ve seen a few people with them so far and want to get myself a couple.”

After she explains which bus to look for, we head in that direction.

Offline m1090y

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #9 on: 15. September 2020, 14:04:25 PM »
I had an idea for this thread:  You have all these people living in a rooming house, but they have to quarantine because of returning from travel outside the country just as the pandemic starts.  It is about a half dozen chapters long.

The Rooming House During Quarantine, Chapter 1

People living in a rooming house often get to know each other a little better than people living in separate apartments, and people living in quarantine get to know each other better still.  The rooming house had proven an attractive residence for people who spent much of their time on the road, returning mostly to accommodate long weekends or spells between projects or assignments.  It was a converted old house with locks on all the bedroom doors.  The large living room had multiple couches in it and the basement had laundry equipment that charged for each load.  There were extra fire escapes from rooms on the second floor, and the driveway or parking lot took up most of the side yard.  Much of the basement had been renovated into bedrooms so that there was a total of eight in the house.

On the fateful day when the country's borders' closing had been announced, there was just time for everyone to return to the rooming house, or in the case of the three university students, to return to their homes abroad.  As the remaining five residents returned to the rooming house, they were required to remain in quarantine for fourteen days.  One by one, they arrived home.  Geraldine  had been living there the longest and was home most often, so the others had agreed that she would kind of organize the place.  She had welcomed new residents and shown them around, pointing out all the rules that were in place to see that they lived comfortably together in the house.  She had been the only one there that fateful day.  She had contacted the local health department for an explanation as to how quarantine would work in a rooming house.  She was told that it was not practical for residents to remain in their bedrooms for two weeks as they would have to use one of the communal bathrooms and go to the front door to receive delivered groceries, not to mention cooking their meals in the shared kitchen.  She was told that unfortunately, they would have to operate as one family unit for the purposes of quarantine.  She documented the results of this conversation and posted a note on the front door, putting a copy in each resident's mail box.

Chris  was a university graduate, whose PhD in business had put him into such debt that even having a job at the university did not leave much money for rent and the rooming house had to suffice.  He found himself on a speaking tour, talking about the results of his research, and so did not have to live out of a rooming house bedroom more than a couple of days a week, the rest being hotel rooms paid for by the university who had organized and funded the speaking tour.  Although in his late twenties, he was still in braces, even if the ceramic ones, as he had volunteered to be a research subject in the university's orthodontics department because he got paid for wearing the braces for them.  Although the research involved testing non-stainable donuts, he would also get his teeth straightened as part of participating in the study.  His bite, although not terribly bad, would not, as he only required braces on the top teeth in order to test the donuts.  When he arrived home he found the note and added it to the information given to him upon arrival at the airport.  He was not allowed to stop and get groceries on the way from the airport to the house.

Geraldine found him in the kitchen going through his non-perishable food supplies in his cupboard for something to eat.  She said, "Chris, welcome home.  It's just you and I right now.  I'm glad I'm going to have your cheery smile around while we quarantine."  She had always made references to his mildly sparkly smile after learning that he was just testing ligatures, rather than really getting a perfect smile from braces.  She kind of teased him about it.

He said, "Well, if this lot stains, then you might have a lot more than sparkle for a while.  They say that after quarantine, we'll find many businesses have been forced to close down while this epidemic passes.  Our research department is no exception.  I got an Email today telling me my next appointment for ligature change was cancelled until further notice."  Chris finally settled on a half stale box of breakfast cereal and a cup of tea.

Geraldine offered, "We weren't allowed to stop by the grocery store on the way home.  I was going to put together an order.  I was also going to order breakfast for home delivery tomorrow morning while I wait for the groceries.  Would you like to add to my orders?  Is there any special food you have to get to try to stain your braces?"

Chris laughed and said, "If they have cancelled my next appointment, I think maybe I will hold off on foods that stain until I have an appointment again."  He always had his appointments right after a speaking tour stop when he returned home for the weekend and would eat his worst staining meal between delivering his talk and his appointment.

Offline m1090y

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #10 on: 16. September 2020, 09:09:16 AM »
The Rooming House During Quarantine, Chapter 2

Andy, short for Andrea,  returned the next day.  She had accepted a job across the border and she rented a full apartment there, however in order to continue to qualify for the health benefits of the country of her citizenship, she was required to maintain a residence here and to return to the country for a minimum number of nights each year.  The rooming house was an economical way to meet this requirement.  Now, however, with borders closing, she was required to return home to the rooming house until the pandemic was over.  Her employer was arranging for her to work remotely, half time, but for the following week, she would have little to do and would be in quarantine, unable to go out of the rooming house.

Andy not only brought home her laptop from work, she had also brought home a glimmering smile of steel.  She was getting her bite fixed.  Unlike when she was little, her over-jet was now considered something that should be treated.  She'd got the braces right after her last return from the rooming house back across the border to work.  That was almost a month ago.  The day before yesterday, her follow-up appointment had seen the addition of headgear to her braces, and her expander had started to be activated a week before that.  Getting used to the headgear in addition to the expander was going to take a number of one and then two hour sessions for the next week.  She had felt it would be easy to accommodate this requirement with the headgear, before she got the order to return to the rooming house.  Before that, she would wear it a couple of hours before leaving to for work in the morning as well as a couple of hours when she got home, and all in the privacy of her apartment.  Now she would be confined to the rooming house and the headgear would confine her to her room.  Residents of the rooming house spent quite a bit of their leisure time in the common areas of the house when they where home.  Andy foresaw herself just sitting on the edge of her bed, headgear constricting the movement of her head and neck, watching the clock for the two hours to be up.  But that would be after dinner, a time when the group all buzzed around the kitchen together.

Kent  was part of a pipeline crew.  His employer erected temporary housing at the job site.  The rooming house was where he stayed for those weeks he had extended leave while they moved the job site further down the pipeline.  He ran into Andy right after getting his luggage into his room and was heading to the kitchen for something to eat.  He had brought home some left over food supplies from his room on the pipeline project and would prepare that now.  Seeing Andy, he said cheerfully, "Oh, Andy, what a babe fer a fella's tired eyes.  Yuh know we ain't got no dames on the friggen crew.  You's a refreshin sight as always."  Kent had not normally seen her as quite so attractive in the past when she was home.  She smiled in pleasant surprise at his comment.  Seeing the shine from her smile he then went on to remark, "Oh, and dat grill.  You're really forken out for that, ain't you!"

Andrea then covered up her teeth in a strained posture of the lips with the smile almost wiped from her face and said, "Yeah, I have to get the bite fixed."  And then, trying to change the subject, asked, "So how was your last stint on the pipeline?  I guess you got sent home like the rest of us, as they could not continue work because of the stay-at-home order."

Kent laughed, "Yeah, right, like we's not already in quarantine!  They had some kind of concern about our supplies comin in.  They ain't sure how to sanitize large sections of pipe.  So now I am quarantined here where there is way more chance of encounterin the virus.  Oh well, the dogh continues and I don't have ta work for it."  He smiled.  Then he commented on the previous sight of her braces again, "But that's some cool equipment on your smile.  How's it fixin' your bite?"

Andy answered with a snicker before she could think, "Oh, it's the headgear that fixes it."

Kent cut in quickly, "Oh, dynamite.  So you really have some cool artillery, then.  So when do we see it?"

She straightened her face, realizing she had not meant to mention it, and clarified, "I will be wearing it in my room at night, except for a bunch of spells I have to hide in my room with it during short periods during the day."

Kent got a look of disappointment on his face and suggested, "Look, with the bunch of us are all quarantined in here for now, you can't go being that private about things.  Just pretend we are all close family and get on with it."

Andy was finished her dishes at this point and was on her way, telling Kent it was good to see him again.  It was getting about time for the next period she was supposed to wear the headgear, so needed to get settled in her room.

Offline m1090y

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #11 on: 17. September 2020, 13:28:51 PM »
The Rooming House During Quarantine, Chapter 3

Devin  was the last of the residents to rush home because of the pandemic and the closing of the borders.  She worked as a kind of property manager for the second homes in the sunny island areas for the rich and famous.  She had the most perfect teeth imaginable.  Her smile, which got pointed at millionaires and almost billionaires as a normal course of her job, was beautiful, professional and dazzling.  In fact Andy had looked at her own smile after meeting Devin for the first time and wondered how possible it would be for her to have such a smile.  Now, in getting her defective bite fixed, perhaps she was to have such a smile also.

Devin passed Andy on her way out of the bathroom and noticed her silver smile, commenting with a big smile, "Good for you with the smile.  It's worth a lot in the end.  Don't hesitate on any of the extra stuff they try to use on you.  It's all worth it in the end!"  Andy made a sigh and some mumbled comment about it depending on the extras.  Devin clarified, "This smile required a twin block, then the braces and combination pull headgear and later an interlandi, plus an expander and elastics.  And then the retainer had problems and they added high-pull headgear to that.  But that is what it took for me to get clients so I could take care of the resorts of the rich and famous."

Once Devin had eaten and returned to her room, Geraldine decided that everyone was back and settled and now it was time for a house meeting.  She went around to each of the bedrooms, knocked on the door and called through it that there was a house meeting in five minutes.  Soon after she had settled in her room, Andy had found it was time for her next two hour session with her headgear and was wearing it at that moment.  She thought of what Devin had said.  She recalled how Kent seemed to think she should wear it in front of her housemates just like they were close family.  She was not sure she would in fact have worn it in front of her family back home.  But Devin seemed to have described a lot worse than a cervical pull headgear.  'It would be worth it in the end.'  This statement from Devin repeated itself a couple of times in Andy's head and she tried to work up the courage to leave her room wearing it.

Geraldine got herself ready in the main lounge.  Andy was the first to arrive.  Sitting down on a couch, she waited for the others to arrive while Geraldine organized things on her laptop for the meeting.  When she looked up she exclaimed, "Holy Fuck!  Andy, you're really doing the full brace thing!  Oh, you poor thing.  Do you have to wear that all the time?"

At that point Devin came in and said, "Andy, good for you."

Andy answered Geraldine, "For now it is short periods until it doesn't hurt so much, but then it's nights."

Devin suggested, "Even if they did not say it, wearing it a lot more than that gets much better results.  You should try for a lot more while we are in quarantine.  Trust me.  It's worth it in the end."  She smiled big as if that smile would back up her point, but both the other two noticed something surprising.  Devin was wearing a retainer.  She added, once confirming they had seen it, "And Andy, I wore my retainer just to show you I can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.  I wear it most nights but decided to wear it to the meeting to impress upon you that this stuff is worth it."

Kent then entered the room and after seeing Andy, decided to sit on the same couch as her, but not uncomfortably close.  He said, "Wow!  Very nice," saying no more than that but continuing to smile and to look at her.

When Chris appeared, he looked a couple of times at Andy but said nothing.  He took a seat elsewhere in the room and prepared for the meeting.  Geraldine started by confirming that everyone had returned home under government urging and was now quarantining for fourteen days.  She said that she had spoken to the local supermarket that did home delivery.  The arrangement was that they would all place orders at about the same time that evening and then the house would only get charged once for delivery, yet each order would be individually packaged and charged.  She went on to talk about some of the sanitation rules of the house and how if anyone started to experience any symptoms, they should notify her by phone or email and then confine themselves to their room.

She then pulled out a case of beer and said, "This is on me.  I wanted our quarantine to get off to a good start, so I got this, by home delivery this morning, and they are now cold."  She started to hand each of them a beer, but when she got to Andy, she said, "Will you be okay drinking with that on?"  She was referring to her headgear as well as to draw everyone's attention to the oral-limiting steel emerging from the depths of her mouth.

Devin jumped in, "Oh, Andy, don't worry.  Drinking beer from a bottle is no problem with headgear on.  Just pucker your lips around the front of the face bow and then hold the bottle up to it and drink."

As the last two got their beers, their eyes seemed to study Andy as much as to look at their own bottle as they removed the cap and took a drink.  Kent actually moved closer, leaning his head right in close to Andy to study this and then said, "Cool!  There was nothing ever as cool as that when we got to have drinks Friday and Saturday nights at the pipeline job."

Andy put back two beers rather quickly from nerves as she got quite humiliated by all the comments about how she coped with her headgear.  As they each got their third and last beer from the case, Andy and Kent decided to go through the kitchen to see what supplies they actually had whereas the others had devised their shopping lists from memory and the fact that they had no supplies.  As Andy looked in the fridge and in her cupboard, she started with a list she had started in the lounge and added or crossed off items as she refined it.  Kent seemed to be more interested in watching her or talking to her about food items.  Andy may not have noticed this, because she just went on about her task as if the companion was simply doing the same thing.

When that task was over, Andy headed for her room and Kent rather followed her, looking suspicious when he headed down the stairs rather than up the stairs when Andy headed down to her room.  Before she could ask about it, he said, "Andy, Um, would you mind if I talked to you in your room for a while?  I have so many questions for you."

Andy detected that there was something rather sexual about this request but in fact, given that they were in quarantine for two weeks, was already worried about the isolation and was trying to figure out how to survive it.  She said to him as he was standing by her door, "Well, we have two weeks to pass in here and most of us have very little work to do.  You could just come in."

Kent was in like a shot and Andy found herself sitting on her bed opposite her desk with a great hunk of a pipeline worker cleaned up and sitting rather close to her.  He said, "Those three beers were really nice but I think I might have preferred a bigger boozing up at a local bar if we were not confined here in the rooming house."

Andy had a bottle of rum in her room that had been put there eons ago.  As she pulled it out, he asked, "Oh, super cool!  So do you think there is any pop in the house?  We could buy it from one of the others if they happen to have some."  Andy looked under her bed and found that she still had some bottles of pop from some time ago.  She pulled one out and gestured it to Kent.  His face brightened and he asked, "Do you drink?"  He recalled she put back the same three beers as the others and then corrected himself, "I mean: do you perhaps want to drink a little more?"

She got up and found two cups – re-useable but still paper disposable ones.  She had washed them at her last visit to save them.  He nodded at them enthusiastically and she began to pour rum into them.  Kent nodded enthusiastically as she put what looked like a whole shot into one and repeated the pour.  She put barely a shot in hers, perhaps even less, and then added mix to them before he could detect the short coming in her drink.  She did not want to get any more liberal with him than she was currently feeling.  He commented that ice was not a problem when you were roughing it like they did on the pipeline job.  He gulped back half his drink and then studied Andy as she carefully moved the plastic cup to her face bow and took back a quarter of the drink.  Kent remarked, "Yeah!" but said no more.  She drew her legs in as she crossed them and sat in the middle of the bed.  He moved in closer to her but her legs kept him just a reasonable distance from her.  He talked to her about some stories from work and she realized that it was just a bunch of guys getting a superior pay for an inferior out-of-work-time experience.  She finally asked him how he liked the ladies that worked the pipelines.  He answered, "Ladies?  There haven't been any ladies on that crew for quite some time.  One of the guys asked about it and management said that if a single lady had applied for the job, she would likely have been accepted just to defer any concerns about gender bias."  It had been an hour and Kent then rose and said to Andy, "I shouldn't bother you any more.  I've really enjoyed talking to you and especially about your hardware for your bite, but I really should be going."

Andy looked at the clock.  About fifteen minutes and her headgear wear would be complete.  She said, "Oh, that's too bad.  In about fifteen minutes I could take the headgear off and I could talk to you more like a real person."

Kent said, "Oh, fuck.  That would make it even worse.  Andy, I'm getting really interested in you and I think maybe it is best if I retire before I do something that is so way out of line for housemates in quarantine."

Andy quickly analysed her own situation.  This guy had been stuck on a pipeline job without any female presence for probably a month and was worried about coming on to her, while she was just getting used to a hardware sentence that would completely eliminate any possibility of real male closeness.  She spoke quickly before he could leave, "Kent, maybe I would kind of like you to stay..."

She expected Kent to slither back into her room and sit up close to her with his eyes darting back and forth from the clock as he gauged the count down of the fifteen minutes.  Instead he sat up close to her and put his hands either side of her face.  He said quietly, "Fuck fifteen minutes.  You look perfect just the way you are."  She laughed quietly and he stroked her face bow, saying, "Red Room be damned.  You're way above that.  I think maybe that fifteen minutes is a time constraint, not a waiting period.  Is that okay?"

Andy thought of Devin's advice.  She should be diligent with this headgear, but if this guy wanted to work with it, 'then it would be all worth it in the end'.  She moved her face closer to his.  She was not sure what would happen next but with Kent's exuberance, and in fact just carnal instincts, perhaps a month's build up would just explode and she could do no wrong.

Minutes later, and it is questionable if that was plural or not, he was just breathing like he just muscled a huge piece of pipe into position and was exhausted.  Andy was not surprised that this guy, who had been cooped up like that, was quick to do his part, but she was unhappy that she was left still waiting for a male performance of some kind.

Offline m1090y

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #12 on: 17. September 2020, 13:29:45 PM »
The Rooming House During Quarantine, Chapter 4

Kent had to excuse himself for the bathroom but asked if he could come back and sit with her a little longer.  She said, "Sure, I'd appreciate the company." And he was off, returning a few minutes later with the breath seemingly having returned to normal and a big smile on his face as he yawned.  He was quite happy to sit and watch her re-brush her hair after their encounter, as that was about all she had to do to recover from it.  It was not like any of her clothes had come off.  Kent watched her carefully as her hair was brushed.  He watched her sometimes looking at him and sometimes he watched her at a profile, then even watched her strap from the back as she held her hair with one hand and turned to take an elastic from her desk with the other.  However before she could join him to lie beside him on the bed, he had dropped off to sleep.

As the session with her headgear was over and her teeth were rather painful, she removed her headgear and proceeded with some work on her laptop.  She put in her grocery order.  Her laptop had been equipped with a VPN to allow her to get into her office files and she proceeded to check Email, update some status spreadsheets on the office's internal network, and then started to create a spreadsheet to record her headgear wear-time.  She had the last few periods of break-in recorded on a card they included with the headgear and she copied these as well as her most recent wear period into her new spreadsheet.  She compared it to the literature that told you how to break it in and realized that she was not really as compliant as she could be.  The travel had spread out the break-in periods and so she was quite behind in them.  She would just have to try to wear it more as soon as possible.

After about forty-five minutes or so, Kent stirred and was probably about to wake up.  If you could consider the incident an hour ago to be intimacy, even if Kent was the only one who exposed himself, it meant it would be okay for her to touch him the way she wanted to.  She started by caressing his biceps below his short sleeved shirt and then put her hand down his shirt over his chest.  Finally she started to touch him somewhere she had not had a chance to an hour ago.  He was a male that had rested after intimacy and the engine was now ready to be wound out again.  He started to come to full wakefulness and hummed and smiled at her as he opened his eyes.

He commented, "I guess the fifteen minutes ended a while ago, did it?  Shit.  I dropped off too soon.  When do yuh have tu strap up agin?"

Andy thought about the advice from Devin.  Her molars did not seem overly sore now so she said to Kent, "I think maybe I could try again now."  And with that she picked it up off her desk and began to feel the face bow into the tubes at the back of her braces and connected the strap.  She looked at him with her lips together behind the front of the face bow in a relaxed fashion to study his reaction.  It seemed maybe the lower portion of his torso was getting a little fuller.  She crawled onto the bed and straddled him over his waist.  He traced the whiskers of her face bow with his index finger and then traced her lips, at least the parts that were accessible to him, and then she slid her sweater up and over her face bow very carefully.  She normally dressed in this style.  The blouse under it she unbuttoned a bit so Kent could see more of her chest than just her clavicle.

He commented, "That skin looks like it has not seen the light of day ever.  It is so smooth and young-looking."  She was glad he noticed, as it seemed her womanly features could be distracting, even when she flashed headgear at this hunk.  She took her blouse off completely and encouraged Kent's hand to feel her chest and bra.  She then bent over so her face came closer to his.  She began to kiss him gently and then he moved hands from her chest to her back and coaxed her flat on top of him.  In their last encounter he had more looked at her than kissed her but now he more thoroughly explored the idea of how to kiss a vixen wearing headgear.  He did this in such a way that Andy felt just like she was having such an encounter without the impediment and humiliation of wearing headgear at the time.

The headgear caused a few other challenges to the couple but after a fairly long encounter, Andy was able to congratulate herself on managing to feel fulfilled while in quarantine.  Or perhaps she should have congratulated herself on managing to achieve fulfillment while wearing headgear.

Offline m1090y

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #13 on: 17. September 2020, 13:30:24 PM »
The Rooming House During Quarantine, Chapter 5

During the arranging for groceries, Geraldine had shared with the residents, the window of time in which the groceries would arrive.  As it was a Saturday, residents of the rooming house could quite possibly be sleeping in.  She got agreement that she could locate each resident, and bang on their door if necessary to wake them up, when the groceries had been delivered.  The delivery truck had a frozen section and a refrigerated section so that frozen items would only begin warming up the moment they were deposited onto the porch.

Kent had returned to his own room to sleep the previous evening.  There was a house rule about having no overnight guests as, with the lack of sound proofing within the house, it could be hard for residents to get a good night sleep if others had guests overnight.  Kent interpreted this rule as meaning he could not remain in Andy's room for the night.  While Andy was up and about when the groceries arrived, Kent was not.  He had to get himself up quickly and get dressed.

Devin was also not up yet as the jetlag was still affecting her sleep patterns.  She joined the others as they hauled their grocery orders from the front porch to the kitchen.  The kitchen had two large refrigerators as well as a deep freezer.  The group got the frozen stuff packed away relatively quickly and then could be a little more leisurely with the rest.

Kent confided in the others, "Andy and I find we are having very romantic feelings for each other.  I hope we don't make any of you feel uncomfortable."  This was not his usual coarse language brought home from the pipeline project.  He'd rehearsed the sentence with Andy the previous evening when they talked about the necessity to declare their relationship to the others so there were no uncomfortable moments.

Geraldine smiled and said, "Oh, that's so nice."  And then she pondered it and changed to her more authoritarian persona and said, "The house rules about no overnight guests were designed to make sure the house was quiet at night when we should be sleeping.  I wonder how you feel about sleeping in your own rooms each night."

Devin looked at Andy, who was in the process of another wear period with her headgear, and suggested, "Well Andy will be wearing that headgear at night, so I can't imagine it's a problem."  Devin had been woken up by the arrival of the groceries and was dressed, not in her business clothes, or one of her smart casual outfits, but was wearing her skimpy shorts and tight tank top that she slept in.  Chris could not help noticing the attractive cleavage from her wearing a good but comfortable bra under the tank top for sleeping.  He always found that although she was quite a glamorous girl, that her personality came across as perhaps a little snobbish.  With her hair down and messy from sleeping and her retainer still showing across her teeth, and that outfit she slept in, he now found her quite distracting.

Geraldine commented, "Well, if we are all shut in here together in quarantine, there certainly is no opportunity for any other socializing, so we might as well all appreciate one another's company, and if two of us have become romantically involved, then let's embrace it.  I think tonight we should all try to come up with some kind of a communal, pot luck dinner.  And I don't see why we can't get a home delivery order from the liquor store to get supplies to make it a kind of party."

The group fleshed out plans for a party that night while they put away the rest of their grocery orders.  Chris and Devin were last to finish as they had to completely unpack a large cupboard they shared as they were having trouble getting everything in.  Devin had become aware of Chris's new and warmer way of viewing her.  While her dates over the last couple of years had mostly been the sons of the rich and famous at properties she managed, she now found this academic with no wealth to be a comfortable change of pace.  He was responding to her lack of grooming and glamour, while all her previous dates were the opposite, losing interest once they saw her dressed down and less groomed.  She found her hand going over his at one point while they each reached for a can to put away.  As they looked at each other, Chris said, "Would you maybe like to attend the party tonight as my date?"

Devin's eyes as well as her smile lit up and she said, "Yes.  You certainly can't have any other date while we are in quarantine, so if you are okay being stuck with me, then I'd love it."

It was about four in the afternoon when the party actually started.  Some of the pot luck dishes were already simmering at that time but it was then that the residents started to all show up in the kitchen.  Andy was saying to Kent as they walked in, "Unfortunately I am supposed to wear my headgear until this evening but it can be off for the height of the party."

Chris looked at Devin and said, "They're quite romantic in the way they have that headgear always having to be worn when they are together.  But I think in your case, when you showed up in your retainer this morning to put groceries away, it somehow made you seem more down to earth and not so much a part of the lifestyles of the rich and famous."  Devin had been rolling out some dough for something she would try to bake, washed her hands and said she would be right back, using the excuse that since the party was starting she needed to get herself ready.  She returned with her hair down but kept off her face by a little accessory that gripped her head by her ears and ran up and over her head above her forehead.  It had two little triangles like cat ears either side.  The glitter on it gave a sparkle to her head and when she smiled at Chris, he found a retainer bar sparkling across her top teeth.  Chris's returned smile flashed the sparkle in his own research braces back at her.

Geraldine glanced from Chris to Devin and then to Andy, noting that the latter looked so much more industrial in the way she had the large powerful braces, rather than the dainty, finer flash of the other two.  Devin then said to Geraldine, "Chris and I decided to be at this party tonight as dates.  I hope it doesn't make you feel left out."

Geraldine snickered and said, "I think I am more interested in watching you four enjoying yourselves.  I've never really gotten over my ex yet."

The kitchen got cozy warm with the five of them all cooking at once.  There was a lot of leaving things to cook or heat or simmer and so the group spend a lot of time talking while they waited, but finally dishes were ready, some having to be kept warm while others were waited on, and the group made a procession of each moving one or two dishes of hot food out to the dinner table.  The five then sat down at it, Geraldine at the head of the table the other two couples on either side of her, facing each other.  Chris watched as Devin pulled a braces box out of her purse and opened it, carefully prying the retainer off her teeth and storing it in the box which she moved to her purse.  Everyone then looked at Andy.  She'd managed almost four hours of wear while they prepared their magnificent dinner.  She unhooked the strap and put it in her purse.  Kent watched her head moving as the bars that dangled near her ears, were sprung away from her cheeks and the front of it dipped a little at her lower lip.  She then grasped it either side of her mouth and began to wiggle it.  With the tenderness in her molars, she was being very gentle with it, but this meant it took her quite a time to dislodge it from her molars.  It did not help that the others were watching all of this like it was a show.  After what was almost half a minute, she had it out and stored that in her purse.  She smiled a still metallic smile at them, prompting them to start digging into the food.

As the bowls were passed round the table, Andy had to pass on several of them because she would not find it comfortable to chew the contents.  Corn was passed because it was on the banned list for braces wearers.  Chris had to pass on Kent's stew as he had seen how much turmeric and curry had been added to it and he certainly did not want this dinner to stain his ligatures, whether or not it would all get chalked up to research in the end.  Geraldine served up each of them with a glass of wine from the several bottles they had ordered as part of the home delivery order.  Devin and Chris managed three glasses of wine with dinner, while Andy managed two and Geraldine and Kent only one each.  Kent was not a wine drinker.  He preferred his beer, which he would get into after dinner.

And when dinner was over, Devin and Chris found themselves finishing their last glass of wine by swilling it vigorously around their mouths to wash out any remaining food.  Andy caught this and did the same, asking Kent if there was any food still lodged in her braces, to which he inspected for a very long time, not so much for food, but as an excuse to simply get a good close look at her braces.  She then put her headgear immediately back on, feeling that the pain had lightened with the rest during dinner.  She was not scheduled for a second wear session so close to bed time, but the others did not know that and she did not want to have them see Kent working on her to wear it more.  Devin, seeing this, and receiving a glance from Chris, simply followed suit and replaced her retainer into her mouth.

After clearing up the dinner dishes, the group retired to the lounge, where Geraldine laid out the rest of the after dinner party supplies, including liquor and mix.  Kent would have to keep running to the kitchen for another beer as he was keen on having it as cold as possible, a practice he learned on hot summer nights on the pipeline projects.  By this time Devin was fairly well lubricated and although Chris's heavier frame would take a little longer to reach her state, he was nicely relaxed and the others now witnessed the two of them getting a little closer and more familiar with each other.  Devin started to pick at Chris's braces with her finger nails, referring to the research he was taking part in and trying to spot the difference in his appliances.  It was when she was examining the back of his arch that she spotted something she recognized from her own treatment which she never imagined Chris would have.  He not only had bands on his second molars like she had had, but moreover, he had the same headgear tubes which she had had on her molar bands.  She had been made to wear headgear for the last three months of her treatment as they had not been able to perfect the bite.  It had only been at night but she remembered it as a big let down as she closed in on the end of her treatment with much anticipation.

Offline m1090y

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Re: Adventures in Pandemicland
« Reply #14 on: 17. September 2020, 13:31:11 PM »
The Rooming House During Quarantine, Chapter 6

Kent and Andy had not been watching the other couple much.  Kent had been studying Andy's neck strap and was concerned about whether it had a right way up or not.  He removed it, examined it, and thought he saw a difference.  Andy pointed out that when she put it on, she always placed it with the part that was curled a little along the neck pad facing down.  Kent put it on her the other way up and then studied her.  He was sure it was fitting differently until Andy put her hand on the back of the strap and slid it up a little on her neck.  She explained that she could feel it pulling on little hairs on her neck as it was trying to slide up into its usual position.  Kent seemed to think it needed straightening and started to fiddle with the ends of the neck pad to make both sides vertically even.

Devin, meanwhile, was asking Chris about his molar bands, "You have tubes on your molar bands.  Do you have headgear?"

Chris looked at her in surprise and replied, "No, the research is about ligature staining.  I don't think headgear stains, and anyway, you take it out to eat."

Devin said, "I got one for a bit at the end of my treatment.  I still have it somewhere.  Can I try it on you?"  The drink Chris had taken from his cocktail before she started doing this had lubricated him to the same state as she and he shrugged his shoulders and snickered.  Devin took that as a 'yes' and jumped off him and ran to her room.  Chris took the opportunity to freshen his drink.

He said to Geraldine, who was watching Kent fuss with Andy's headgear strap, "With those two a couple and Devin and I making a date of it, it kind of leaves you out of it.  We should try to do some group activity.  Do you want to try cups?"  Geraldine had never been any good at the game of tossing things into cups down the length of a table, but jumped at the suggestion and got up to get supplies to set up for it.

Devin returned shortly with a zip-locked pouch in her hand.  She said to Chris, "I only brought the neck strap for now.  The hard part will be getting the face bow to fit.  Kent noticed what was going on and got interested in what Devin was going to do to Chris.  Devin got back on top of Chris's lap and got him to open is mouth half way.  She moved the face bow into his mouth and lined up one of the ends of the face bow with a headgear tube on his molar.  The other one lined up okay when she sprung it in toward his arch.  As she pushed it in, she realized it was not fitting like it had on her.  It was almost touching his braces in the front but it was slightly above them.  It was, however, in.  So she put the neck strap around his neck.  Chris's neck was perhaps a little more muscular than hers.  In any case, the strap was going to have to stretch quite some distance in order to connect to the face bow.  She remembered the times they had tightened the strap and how the pressure on the back teeth became immense.  She had the kind of strap which adjusted by a clip on the elastic strap that ran through the neck pad.  She made the adjustment and made sure it was only just putting pressure on the face bow.  She connected it and then moved back to look at her date for this party, now wearing headgear like Andy and part of the strapping that she had had to wear when it was prescribed for her.

Chris looked at Andy, his lips closed and having to meet the face bow closer to his nose than they did naturally.  He smiled shyly at her and she smiled back similarly.  Both felt embarrassed for each other to be looking at their headgears in such a way.  Kent felt himself reacting in a way he was embarrassed about.  Wearing the same hot accessory that Andy wore, he found himself reacting somewhat in the same way as with Andy, only more subdued.  Perhaps it was the beer subduing it.  Chris then smiled nervously at Andy, the full arch of braces clearly displayed beneath the face bow, which held his upper lip higher above his braces than normal even when he smiled.  When he relaxed his lips, he did not meet his lips.  The lower one rested just about where it normally did, just under his top teeth, while the upper one, being held up by the face bow, draped down either side of the inner bows where they came away from the meeting with the outer whiskers.

Chris repeated, "Since it doesn't stain, they would not give me one of these, even if I needed it.  Perhaps I do, but I would have asked for something easier to wear if it were a regular treatment.  I really don't think this is very becoming on me."

Devin giggled and said, as he moved his gaze from Andy to she, "It looks funny on you.  It looks like it is trying to hold your mouth open.  You'd never be able to drink with that on.  It'd go all over your shirt."

Kent, being the most mechanical one present, suggested, "Uh, Chris, depending on how the loops at the back are angled, you might find it fits differently if you put it in the other way up.  But as for it sticking in so far, I think it would have to be bent a lot in order to stick out enough, like Andy's does."

Devin moved off Chris and asked Kent, "Do you mind?"  The unspoken part of her request was probably evident.  Chris patted the couch in front of his groin, indicating Kent should approach him but he probably meant to indicate kneeling on the floor.  Kent took it that way and after Andy moved off his lap, he went over to kneel in front of Chris.  He unhooked the strap as he might have done for Andy, putting one hand either side of his face.  He left the strap sitting on the back of Chris's neck and slid the face bow out.  Andy, watching from nearby with Devin, was envious of how easily it slid out compared to her own.  Kent examined the ends of the inner arms of the face bow and nodded with a hum of agreement.  As he hoped, the loops had been adjusted to accommodate Devin's mouth.  They were closed a little.  In fact Devin had not remembered which way up she wore it and had actually put it in upside down anyway.  Kent fed it into Chris's molar band headgear tubes, expecting that it would again go in too far.  He expected it to almost touch the front of Chris's teeth near the bottoms or even below them, but when he pushed it in, he was surprised to find it stopped well before it was in that far.  As he pulled back Chris's cheek he found that there was some kind of projecting bar coming forward of the headgear tube, perhaps some kind of a hook, and the loop on the inner arm of the face bow was hitting it.  This was perfect.  It held the face bow out somewhat.  It was probably not going to be enough for Chris's lower lip to come behind the face bow to meet the upper like in Andy's case, but at least it was not touching the teeth or sitting under the top teeth.  He connected the strap and moved back to admire the appliance as Chris relaxed his lips.

As his lower lip touched the underside of the face bow and the upper one relaxed just far enough above it to show the bottoms of his top teeth and a hint of the arch wire, Devin gasped and commented, "Oh Chris, that's darling on you.  It looks just like a real headgear; like on Andy."  Chris moved his lips around to feel how the face bow fit this way.  He closed his lips around it but had to push them out a little to accommodate it between them.  Then he pushed them out further to moisten it and this formed a pucker.  Devin caught this and jumped back on his lap, pushing her lips against his.  After kissing him, she pulled back and turned to look at the others and said, "Kent, thanks for making it fit so well.  He's kind of hot in headgear, wouldn't you say?"

Kent's loins were urging him to agree, but self-consciousness prompted him to say, "Yes, I reccon he will turn a few heads of da babes a lookin like that."  Kent found that whereas Andy was now looking comfortable in wearing her headgear amongst the other roomers in the house, Chris was clearly not comfortable in any way, except for the attention he was getting from Devin.

As Kent and Andy returned to the couch they had been cozying on, Devin picked up Chris's drink and commenced to train him on how to drink from it with headgear on.  Geraldine was pretty much just sipping on her drink and watching the others at this point.  She'd always found Chris's braces to be endearing, but now in headgear, he was not the subtle display of a sparkle of arch wire now and then.  Rather he shone brightly with two thick, shiny whiskers trailing around his cheeks.  She watched as he drank and smiled and spoke to Devin.  His lips were finding a way to rest with the bottom one squeezed under and behind the face bow a little, although one could clearly see it would work more smoothly if the face bow stuck out just a little more.  But then after a while he had reason to look up at the ceiling above them.  Most newly fitted headgear wearers tend to hold their head still and to not move it much at all, but perhaps the alcohol had smoothed over the feelings cervical headgear gives to the wearer and Chris did not let the headgear constrain his head movement in the slightest.  It was when he was looking straight up and putting maximum pull on the strap that he felt a bang in his mouth.  What Geraldine saw was the face bow snap in further to his mouth and with his lips and teeth apart, she saw the face bow narrowly miss banging into his front teeth.  If it had not been quite so low, it would have, but actually was positioned a hair below them.

Chris put his hand to his mouth at the feel of the sudden movement, moved his head back, and feeling that the face bow was still more or less in place, calmed his fears that it had all broken apart.  He did not have words to describe to Devin what he had just felt but after closing his mouth and lips, realized what had happened and then said, "Oh, it's moved in further."  Devin looked at him and said nothing.  He closed his lips and found it fit well within them.  As he closed his lower jaw to swallow, his lower lip actually popped up in front of the face bow to meet the upper, completely enclosing everything but the whiskers.  Devin smiled at him in this posture of the lips around the face bow.

He said, "I guess the pressure from the strap was too much for it.  But it still seems to be in okay like this."  Devin kissed him and found that the face bow was even less in the way like this.  She realized that back when she wore one, she had never had the opportunity to experience being kissed in headgear, nor would she have liked to have such a chance.  The headgear had been strictly guarded as a secret between just she and her orthodontist.  Geraldine snickered as she observed the carefree way that the two dealt with a headgear that was miss-behaving like it was.

Later, when Kent needed to get another beer, Chris joined him in the kitchen to get Devin a glass of water.  For some reason Chris felt it was okay now to remove the headgear to talk to Kent, perhaps wanting to remove the feeling of being eight and to feel more like the twenty-eight he really was.  He removed the strap and started to pull on the face bow.  It would not budge.  He said to Kent, "Damn.  When it popped in as I was looking up at the ceiling, it must have got itself stuck."

Kent's mechanical mind had already recalled what he had seen during insertion and predicted, "Oh, yeah, it was pushing on two little bars coming out of the molar bands above the headgear tubes.  It probably sprung around them and went in the rest of the way and now the little bar is holding it in.  Let's get back to the girls before they pass out so we can enjoy them, and then we can look at it later."

Chris was not feeling the calm lack of concern that Kent was and got a little jumpity as he returned to the couch with Devin.  He had the strap in his pocket and just looked at her with face bow bars hovering in front of his ears while he explained trying to remove it and finding it had jammed in.  Devin cooed with empathy, saying that she had never had anything more than a little stiffness in removing it some mornings.  She caressed his cheeks and tried to comfort him.

Later Kent returned to his room and got a micro screw driver set.  He was able to reach into Chris's mouth and lever the loop on the face bow arm closer to the teeth so that it could pass a ball on the end of the bar projecting from the molar band.