Born with Teeth: A Memoir by Kate Mulgrew

Born with Teeth: A Memoir by Kate Mulgrew
  • Author: Kate Mulgrew
    Publisher: Little
    Genres: Biographies
    Publish Date: April 14, 2015
    ISBN-10: 0316334316
    Pages: 320
    File Type: Epub
    Language: English

Book Preface

I started out in a green house with a red door in a small town, where mysteries abounded. Immediately after issuing me into the world, my mother took me to this house and put me in a shoebox, which she placed on the dining room table so that one and all might come and gaze upon my perfect miniature beauty. Hands like starfish, to hear her tell it, grave but ravishing cornflower-blue eyes, and, most remarkable of all, a set of baby teeth. Two pearls on top and two, nonpareil, on the bottom. Shakespeare, my mother said, would have a field day. The neighborhood ladies were not impressed and stood there in silent judgment with arms crossed over pregnant stomachs. It wasn’t good form to crow about your child’s beauty, especially considering the vast numbers of children that populated those Irish-German households. My mother, however, was undaunted and maintained her frantic vigil until she convinced herself that I, her first daughter, was growing even tinier than I had been at birth. Alarmed, she rushed me to the hospital and demanded that I be incubated. Dr. Sharp, her obstetrician, shook his head but to no avail. And so it was that in that strange aquarium of light and warmth, my mother’s face pressed against the glass, I developed a constitution that could only ever be described as able and hardy.

My father observed my growing appetite for solid food with ill-concealed contempt. “Jesus. H. Christ,” he would mutter as I shoved yet another fistful of banana pudding into my mouth, “I’m going to the Lux Club for a belt.” Of course, the Lux Club at happy hour was thick with young Catholic fathers looking for a quick reprieve before heading home to their harried wives and hordes of screaming children. These strapping Irish boys would then stumble home to find the madhouse magically transformed into an oasis of quiet, children tucked in, dishes done, the lovely young wife lying achingly still in the bed. He might whisper “Shhh” if she started to turn and then, oh so quickly, the nightgown was up over her thighs and the deed was done in a lightning flash so that neither he nor she could ever remember with nostalgia the actual moment in which any of their children was conceived.

My father was not surprised when Dr. Sharp visited and announced that I would need a special crib, one with bars on all sides as well as over the top because would you believe it, said the good doctor, but this kid has no sense of pain. Mother was delighted by the novelty of this condition and stood stoically by as my baby teeth were pulled, quickly and without incident, so as to prevent my eating them. I was too young to wink with intention, but I like to think I caught my father’s eye as he pulled on his overcoat and invoked yet again the name of his secret friend, Jesus. H. Christ.

  • File Type: Epub
  • Upload Date: April 24, 2015

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