Monday, January 26, 2009

False Teeth and Pastors

My pastor has been on my mind and heart lately because he has been through so much in recent days. He is an incredible man with a true heart for God and for people and, when that's who you are, you go through a lot. He lives his faith. He's the real deal.

So naturally, this has led me to think of false teeth. Not that he has any, false teeth I mean, he has actual teeth (though I haven't tried to remove them so I'll do that and get back to you). But I had another pastor I dearly loved when I was four years old and he had enormous false teeth. This one fact can highly recommend you to four-year-olds, especially if you take the teeth out on demand. You must then extrude them from your mouth just far enough to resemble a scene from "Aliens." At this point you should snap and clack them a few times, and then suck them back in. What is not to love here?

I constantly demanded that this fabulous talent be demonstrated and he never let me down. In addition, from my diminutive perspective, he was at least thirteen feet tall. I would ask to be lifted up and he would perch me on his shoulders. This afforded me a view of the surrounding countryside as well as a direct look into his snapping jaws. I could bend over, twist my head around, and watch from two inches away with abject horror and complete fascination.

I had no idea this man was my pastor. His name was Brother Whitaker but every single man in our little backwater Southern Baptist church was Brother Something-Or-Other. Nothing about the title caused me any sort of appropriate awe or reverence. I presumed he had been created for my entertainment. Apparently, I paid no attention in church or I might have noticed him in the pulpit. I was too busy flirting with Ronnie Miller.

Ronnie Miller was about 18 years old and as handsome as a movie star. And he sported his own teeth. My mother always sat towards the front but Ronnie was in the back. Every time I would sashay by, and I made frequent excuses because I needed to take a good, long look at him in all his glory, he would talk to me. He would never fail to tell me he was going to marry me when I grew up. I believed him without doubt. On Sundays, I would smooth out my crinoline and shine my patent leather shoes to be sure I looked like marriage material. And he would not fail to remind me that we were an item.

One Saturday, he two-timed me and married a girl named Sharon. He walked her right up the aisle I had walked down a hundred times just to stare at him. She had nothing on me as far as I could tell and it made absolutely no sense. My heart was a shambles and I never loved again until I was eight. Even now I run into him at get-togethers and always remind him that he left me at the altar, sort of. That's how un-petty I am.

I soothed my little soul with dental entertainment. Brother Whitaker and his choppers were good medicine. Food helped, too. One time he took my brother to church camp and let me ride along up to Hume Lake. Those were the good old days when kids could stand in the front seat and launch through the windshield when you had to stop fast. Along the way he bought me a whole pack of Oreo cookies and a carton of milk. These were rare treats in my life. By the time we had traveled up and back and spent nearly a day, my milk was sour. I took a big drink, spit it across the room, and howled. In typical good-guy fashion he took me to the store and bought more milk. Some guys know how to treat a lady.

I will always wonder what became of Brother Whitaker and his teeth. He and his wife left our church not long after those days. I doubt he ever found a more appreciative audience for his special talent but he certainly laid down a fondness in my heart for pastors who are willing to go above and beyond.

And now, having come full circle, I appreciate a pastor who tends to my soul and does not feel the least compelled to share his dental work with me. So, maybe I won't check his teeth. He has been a gift from God and you should never look a gift pastor in the mouth, unless you're four.

Copyright 2009


  1. What a nice tribute to "your pastor". In typical Robynn fashion, funny too, but as always heartwarming as well.

  2. Oh Robynn, this was just great... and you had me safeguarding my keyboard by the 2nd sentence!

    I got a bee in my bonnet last week and decided to try and find "my" old pastor (from 17 yrs ago) and I found him!
    He's currently selling computers in Dana Point CA, so I wonder what happened?

  3. Well whatta you know ... I have Southern Baptist roots too.

    What a great story!

  4. HAHAHAHA!!! I love it. It's always funny the things that stand out in your mind when you're four.

  5. Girl you are hilarious! I don’t even know what to comment on first. I totally related to everything you said. Especially sashaying to the back of the church to get a glance at a boy. In my case it happened to be the preacher’s son. He was four and a half years older than me and gorgeous! I even befriended his sister so that I could spend the nights at his house. I was certain that if he could see me in my holly hobby pajamas then he would love me too! God is so good! We just celebrated our 10-year anniversary.

  6. How funny, Robynn! It brought back memories of the lady in my childhood church who would let her false teeth slip down a little as she listened to the sermon. I suppose she did that because they hurt, but to me as a little kid turning around and peeking over the back of the pew, it sure looked grotesque!

  7. Love your site. I read back a month or more. You have some great stories here.

  8. It's so funny, the things that stand out in your mind when you're four. :)

    thanks so much for your encouraging comment on my blog!

  9. Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog. It amazes me that people keep finding it and reading it. Also, thank you for pointing me to yours. I thoroughly enjoy it!


  10. That is perhaps the most well written, funny blog post I've ever read! You rock and apparently so does your pastor! And I'm sure that he appreciates your restraint when it comes to his dental status! LOL

  11. Being a PK, I found this sweet AND funny! Thanks for popping over and seeing my pantry.

  12. Robynn, you took me back to my youth, visiting my grandparents on their farm in Colorado during harvest. My grandpa would chase my brother and I around with his false teeth clacking and when he stopped we begged and begged for more. It was so much fun. To this day, my grandpa is the first person I want to see when I am promoted to Heaven. Thanks for your writing.

  13. Robynn, you made my day. Us cradle Baptists have so much in common. I could see you sashaying down the aisle and just imagine your pastor popping out those teeth. Thanks for a reminder of what it was like to be a little kid in church! Your writing is fantastic.

  14. What a cute story! My husband tells stories of his grandmother doing her teeth that way. Sounds sort of scary to me! :)

  15. I loved your story and I know exactly where you are coming from.
    Don't you just love Southern Baptist churches?
    When I was around 4 until about 10 we had a preacher that made the rounds for Sunday dinners. I couldn't wait for the preacher and his wife to visit us. She looked just like the millionaire's wife on Gilligan's island. At least she did to me.
    I miss those crinolines and patent leathers too!
    What about the little white gloves and hat? Those were a must for at least Easter Sunday.
    Great post.
    Have a good day.

  16. I can't remember what kind of Baptist I grew up, Southern, Reformed, United? It was some sort of Baptist and the aisle I walked repeatedly was the altar call aisle, but there was no handsome devil there, just a good old dose of assurance and re-assurance and I'm sure I was hoping for some insurance! Love what you wrote and so glad I get to love you in person too! Your only anonymous follower,

  17. I found your post about false teeth over at pioneer woman and had to follow it. Very funny stuff!I am 38 and my father is 59, and he has had false teeth since I was 6. Yes, clearly rotten teeth or no money to fix rotten teeth, because how can a person in their 20's justify having to spend the rest of your days with false teeth. Anywhoo, he has spent the better half of my life sticking his teeth out at me and my sister. I would especially love it when we would be sitting on the couch together watching tv only to turn and look at him and he would be staring at us with his teeth out! What a hoot! We always laughed so hard. He also had the talent of taking the top denture (still in his mouth) and totally flipping it around and putting it back in place. Don't even ask me how one would come to know they could even do this, but he could. One day he was at my house and he was sitting on the couch next to my son who was 3 @ the time (now 16)and my son was climbing all over him playing and then my father looked at him and stuck both dentures out of his mouth and quickly put them back in. My son was scared senseless and nearly hurt himself trying to get away from him. Of course I must be twisted because I thought it was the most hilarious things I had ever seen. That was until after my father left, for hours after that my son kept coming in and telling me he thought those teeth were still in the house somewhere. I tried to explain that Papaw took his teeth with him, but he was convincced those teeth were somewhere in this house on the loose waiting to come get him!

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  19. I had NO idea false teeth ran through so many of our lives - well, maybe RAN is the wrong term, except for LoriB - sounds like your son was worried about that very thing!

    You have all entertained me, given me a big head, or made me laugh out loud! This has been a fun post for ME getting to hear all the stories.

    I guess that must be why false teeth are a gag gift. They're just hysterical apparently.

    And sashaying was perfected by a few others of us in our dresses, shoes, or jammies.

    Thanks everyone for coming to the party!

  20. Ha!!!! Oh, Mrs. Reilly! How sweet to write about my dad like that. :)
    It reminded me of a hilarious comment that was made about his teeth from a young congregant a few years back....

    Geneva - "I keep my teeth nice and white!"

    Dad - "Good job Geneva! I'm glad that you take care of your teeth."

    Geneva *quizically* - "...annnnd you keep yours....yellow."

    It was hilarious :-D

  21. This is wonderful!! A lovely story... isnt it marvellous how definite we are when we are tiny! Now, must read your other posts. Thanks for stopping by my blog...

  22. I must that's a combination I neve imagined going together.....but, girl, you pulled it off. It's funny what sticks in the four year old mind as entertainment and fun. LOL

    Thanks for stopping by my blog even though I have no pastors or false teeth to offer.

    Hope to see you again soon.

  23. Wow - you started flirting when you were 4 years old? Hee-hee!

  24. A really fascinating take on the dilenma of dentures. It's interesting to look at how viable dentures can be for a wide array of occupations. Makes you appreciate things and work to preserving the good memories, which is what dentures are technically all about.

    Houston Smile Docs