Times being what they are, I've gotten very Jewdicious about expenses lately. I've cut back on luxury items, so much so that I can't remember what they even were and why on earth I needed them. That's how economically my brain now functions—no energy wasted in bitter regret. I've stopped eating out beyond my own backyard, ceased seeing movies in theaters with others. If there is a ‘must see' I go to the dawn discount show, before the popcorn people have started popping, or the compulsive caffeinated have started coffee-ing, and sprawl across several seats. That's a luxury....if I can remember luxury correctly.

I've gotten very Jewdicious about my expenses lately.

I've been dragging out the time between my Hollywood style haircuts by butchering my own bangs, then claiming their irregularities as a style choice. I've been postponing hair coloring treatments by painting my skunk stripe hairline with tinted mousses for a two tone punk image, primarily appreciated by those taller than me, which constitutes most of the young male population.

"Cool colors up here—do you play bass?"

I'm walking and biking on errands, consolidating car drives bio-regionally to accomplish all the duties in one area of town in one car-crowding journey forth. I spring cleaned all my coat and jacket pockets and winter purses and came up with $1.49 in spare change, four pens and six lip balms! I cleaned the detritus of my wallet and found a few antique coupons with no expiration dates that I plan to cash in soon. I'm rather proud of myself for saving and finding so much money without gainful employment or undue hardship. But who knew that the one area of my life that could not be talked out of its expenses would be (SFX Melodramatic Sting) "My Mother's Mouth."

It's been so sudden, but it's time to put my money where my mother's mouth is. After 85 years of pain-free smiles, my adorable little mother is suddenly enduring an earthquake of decimation in her aperture. There are cracks, and breaks in what seemed like solid firmament for so many decades, and it's making her self-conscious and insecure. I am circling the wagons. I'm cutting all costs. I am now preparing to finance the replacement of all her bridges, crowns and canals, which makes me feel I'm personally funding a small monarchy in an overdeveloped country, or a horror movie: "My mother's mouth is eating me alive!!"

Poor little thing! Her diet has been reduced to the comfort Jewsines of her youth, like kasha and Gefilte fish, both of which arrive practically pre-chewed like baby bird's food pecked into place by feathered elders. She had ceased to smile and was getting a bit of a curmudgeonly reputation at the "Finishing School" in which she lives.

For Chanukah she got new front teeth from my sister and me, but she looked like a bucktooth beaver with so little to back them up. So, for her birthday in April, I flew East to drive her around and supervise the interviews for the inner installations personally. Nobody is fooling around with my mother's mouth! Especially at these prices. I interviewed and preferred several young dentists covered and preferred by her secondary health plan, but she felt unsettled. She wanted a dentist her own age or older, covered or un, who would know from whence he spoke when he talked dental implants. How could some toothsome nice Jewish young hunk possibly understand her elder mouth's needs, to know from whence she spoke?

The problem was, there were very few sure-handed dental experts of her years that filled me with calm and trust. Their eye-sight, their shaky hands, their bare bones equipment, all seemed risky for such detailed work in such a dark, confined area—both their offices and her mouth. One such venerable gentleman suggested wooden plates, and when I facialized my dismay, reassured me:

"Hey! George Washington said he loved them, and he never lied!"

I confronted my mother about my concerns. We wanted dental appliances and dentists that would last for as long as her forever would last. I argued in favor of a young Dr. Joel Toth (not kidding) whose devotional dentistry career was predestined by his name. He was in shape. He had all the best equipment. High tech radiology, instant crown moulding machines, and the best legal drugs money could buy. He looked like he could pull an ornery bicuspid out of a clinging gum with little effort. But Mom was adamantly against the guy.

Ultimately, with my whining, the truth of the tooth issue came out. Mom's vanity was on the line. She didn't want to go to a handsome young doctor when she wasn't at her best. Her entire fleet of doctors are her age or older and they all think she's a cutie, brittle bone density, high cholesterol and all. In their elder care offices, she wouldn't mind guffawing open mouthed at their compliments. But under Dr. Toth's care? She would frown perpetually just on general principle.

We reached a compromise. We found a middle aged woman dentist with a mouthful of dentures, prematurely installed due to a bicycle accident pre the helmet laws. Dr. Fuller (not kidding) began filling my mother's mouth with pearly yellows just last week, and my mother's tune has changed from "I'll Never Smile Again," to "I'm All Smiles, Darlin'" in no time. And that is good value!