“No, Brie — I’m not a jack-o-lantern.”

“Sammi is pumpkin?”

Brie squinted curiously at my toothless grimace and reached for the thread holding my lip together.

“No, Brie — I’m not a jack-o-lantern.” I shook my head.

“Owwie. No touch.”

“Correct. Don’t touch the thread. It hurts.”

“Sorry, Sammi.” Brie hugged me carefully, giggling when the stitches thread tickled her cheek.

“It’s okay, Brie. It’s not your fault.”

“Sammi is no pumpkin.”

Raf popped into the kitchen. “Time to go to the dentist, sis.”

“Thanks for picking me up, bro.”

“Of course. There was no way you could drive on pain meds.”

Four years ago, Halloween was on Saturday. Most people were going to Jacksonville for the UGA vs. UF game, so we celebrated the prior Wednesday. After stopping by my friend Kelli’s party, Ames and I headed downtown with two of our Young Dems friends.

Ames was a flapper. Pre-Halloween festivities were the perfect time to wear my cowboy boots with four inch heels, so I was a cowgirl. (The boots were impractical for anything but a costume.) Our friends were a glittery faced Edward Cullen from Twilight and a mobster.

As the night progressed, the boots pinched my feet. All of us (except Ames, who was driving) did rounds of shots at each bar, which numbed the pain. After last call, Edward offered to give me a piggyback ride. As I jumped onto his back, he lost his balance and I tumbled face first onto the pavement.

MY TEETH!” I stared at the fragments of my teeth and blood splattered on the sidewalk. Two teeth were pushed an inch back, digging into my tongue. My lip was split, bleeding onto my dress.

Ames snapped into her lifeguard handing an emergency mode. “Try not to touch your face. Don’t let your tongue move your teeth back any further.”

Ames drove us to the hospital. I left my dentist a rambling voicemail about my busted teeth. Once we sat in the ER waiting room, our costumed crew got weird looks (even from a guy who was there because he got stabbed). Edward apologized profusely, but I couldn’t help laughing (weakly) at his face, sparkling underneath the fluorescent lights.

After I got stitched (and doped) up, I saw that Dr. M left me a voicemail. He cleared his schedule to work on my teeth and was available as early as I could get there.

“Everybody’s staring, sis.” Raf jerked his head toward the onlookers in Dr. M’s waiting room.

“They probably think I got run over by a bus.” I continued watching the flat screen TV across from us. Dr. M always displayed a slideshow (portfolio, really) of his best work on that TV.

Dr. M winced when he greeted us. “Raffy, you can go home. Sam will call you when we’re done. This is gonna take awhile.” He pulled his goggles down and his gloves up. “Sam, do you have any pictures of your teeth before this happened?”

“Yes.” I fumbled through my purse and found my camera. I showed him a close-up that Ames and I took at the beginning of the night.

After taking a “before” photo, x-rays, and shooting anesthesia into the roof of my mouth, Dr. M gravely explained, “I’m gonna pull the two left teeth forward, do a root canal on and put a crown on the front right one, and then put a brace behind your front seven teeth.”

I squirmed anxiously.

“Ready?”

I nodded.

Several hours later, my smile was fixed. One of the dental hygienists took an “after” photo. I wept with gratitude. Dr. M dabbed his brow with a handkerchief and patted my shoulder.

“Come back in three weeks so I can check to see that everything is healing properly.”

“Will do.”

Months later, I sat in Dr. M’s waiting area before a regular cleaning. My teeth looked better than ever. The scratches on my face and lip healed. Two older ladies sat beside me, making small talk.

Tired of reading Shape magazine, I turned to the flat screen with Dr. M’s best work slideshow. The next pair of photos were my teeth before and after he worked on them.

The grey-haired lady gasped. “Dr. M is a miracle worker!”

The bespectacled lady clucked worriedly. “I wonder how that happened to that poor girl.”

The poor girl accepted a piggyback ride from a drunk Edward Cullen impersonator. She’s never trusting a glittery vampire again.

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Throwback Thursday: two years before we became us.

Ceddy & me when we were just friends. 09.12.09.

Ceddy & me at the South Carolina tailgate. 09.12.09.

In the South, college football is a religion.

In the South, college football is a religion.

Prior to going to UGA, I never followed sports. The sport I knew most about was basketball (in that I could watch a game and was generally aware of what was happening). But something happens when you’re a student and there’s a home football game.

Saturdays in Athens are sacred.

Before each game, 90,000 fans file into Sanford Stadium. After the Dawgs warm up, the crowd is silent. A solo trumpeter from the Redcoats marching band plays “The Battle Hymn of the Bulldog Nation.” As the trumpeter holds the last note, the crowd roars and the game begins.

On Saturday mornings during senior year, we pitched our Young Dems tailgating tent on north campus next to Sanford Stadium. We usually arrived around 8AM, when fellow fans were already firing up their grills and drinking beers. Guys wore red or black polos and slacks. Girls wore red, black, and white game day dresses. Students, alumni, and random fans who never went to UGA united to cheer on the Dawgs.

Andrea didn’t get to experience living in a college town, as she went to NYU. Still, she visited us several times a semester. Some people were surprised that she didn’t actually go to school with us, since she was always there for our biggest parties. That year, she was in town for the LSU game. The Dawgs lost that game, but we had one of our best tailgates — booze, food, and a vodka spiked watermelon. Andrea borrowed one of my dresses and we spent the morning drinking and dancing with Ames and our other friends.

Big sunglasses helped shield our eyes from the glaring sun and also hide the drunken progression.

Andrea, me, & Ames. Athens, Georgia. 10.03.09.

Andrea, me, & Ames. Athens, Georgia. 10.03.09.

“Party in the USA” was our theme song that fall, so Andrea made sure to play it on loop.

Andrea blasting "Party in the USA" with a Dems blue party cup. Athens, Georgia. 10.03.09.

Andrea blasting “Party in the USA” with a Dems blue party cup. Athens, Georgia. 10.03.09.

Southern girls wear dresses to football games. Some people think it’s impractical. We call them haters.

Kate, Ames, Andrea, & me. Athens, Georgia. 10.03.09.

Me, Kate, Ames, & Andrea. Athens, Georgia. 10.03.09.

Hopefully, the Dawgs will prevail against the Gamecocks today, in spite of the fact we aren’t going to be there for the game. Go Dawgs!