Smile, Woman. Smile

I am one of those people who have gone through life looking at things with their two front teeth. Buck teeth. That’s my signature. A pair of buck teeth which seem to be pushing their way forward the older I get. Each of them wants to see. And be seen – they are shoving at each other for attention and for a better peek. One on top of the other. Theirs is an odd and everlasting relationship defined by rivalry, affection and brotherly idiocy. They hate as much as they love each other. Like twins in the womb.

I’ve never minded my teeth. It’s one of those features the ordinary girl would take as a flaw. As an artist, this is material.

But three weeks ago Wednesday, something bizarre happened: the tooth on the right chipped a good one, dropped out of my mouth and landed in the middle of my laptop. A large chunk, poop.
I wasn’t surprised though.

My dentist as a kid (God bless you, Professor Lesan. He’s a Governor now.) thought I needed braces. But I figure my folks took one look at me and decided I was too cool for braces. I had plenty going on already, an easy target for jokes – I had big eyes. I was shorter than all my siblings. And rounder. With a round head. My arms were too long, so long that in some of my primo pics I looked like a gorilla. Hehhe. Piling braces on top of all of this eccentricity would be too heavy for my young soul.

So the buck teeth remained. They grew bolder as I grew older. But I matured early to realize the Universe gives us each atleast something we can be proud of. I have a dazzling smile. Yeah. When I smile, the whole world smiles back at me. There are some chicks who smile and the world runs for cover. Others speak and people stare back speechless. Women with beautiful asses but are loose langaz. It gave mamas with strange personalities beautiful brains. Airheads are the life of the party, the ones who spin captivating tales. That’s how this Universe works. A flip to your every broken penny.

The only time I’d get self-conscious is when someone takes my profile photo when I’m mid-conversation. Because I end up looking like Wesley Kibyegon. Do you know who Wesley Kibyegon is? Wesley Kibyegon is the guy who embodies everything native about kalez: that sharp wide forehead, skin stretched thin across it, a hairline which strains lazy away from your eyebrows and teeth that can’t take their place behind your mouth.
I have to audit them: “Hebu I see those pics of me.” Scroll. “Delete that one.” Scroll. “Delete.” “Delete.” Scroll. “No, that one can stay. And that one too.” Scroll. “Delete. Delete all the others.”

My dentist as a young corporate (the sizzling Doctor Nizra. Let me tell you a quick storo: I sent my boy there for some routine scaling and polishing, told him she was worth his time. And in the evening when I asked him how the visit went, he said fine. But he couldn’t look me straight in the eye when he said it. So I asked him, “You have a crush on her, don’t you?”
He laughed. A high-pitched unnecessarily long laugh. It had no humour behind it, just plain embarrassment. “Wee bana,” he said. Then I saw his teeth. Those teeth with perfect perfect denture. She had done a swell job on them. “Chill,” I said with a naughty smile, “I also have a crush on her….”) she told me that I really ought to get them fixed. Based on the rate they are jutting out, I won’t be able to shut my mouth by the time I’m 40. Plus they’re so weak. She recommended some cosmetic procedure which involved shortening and reshaping them, losing their buckness and strengthening them with a new face.

“Cool,” I said. “How much would it cost?”

She mentioned a figure.

I recoiled in horror.

“Is that for one tooth or for both?”

“That’s for one,” she said calmly. “You need to get them both done.”

Aii, kwani I’m placing a government bond? I recoiled further. My front teeth were out by this time, eager to see what the fuss was all about. The woman barely blinked back.

I told her I would be back some day. Wacha I push them for a few more years, I said. We left, me and my two front teeth walked out hopeful that we would take each other to the grave as we were.
But life happened – I quit my corporate job, layabout for a few months then became a freelance writer. Sounds rogue, eh? It isn’t – the flipside about being a freelance is that you are on your own. You only eat as much as you work. As much as you are paid when you write. And you forget about such things as dental cover.

So while I was giving life to my sentences, I was writing the life out of myself. I was falling apart as I built stories up. I will die after I have created my greatest work, won’t I? I wonder if it’s the same for God – did He breathe His last when He breathed life into us?

Now my tooth chipped and fell out of my mouth. Sprawled out on my laptop as if it were lounging on a deck chair. It looked strange there. Unwanted. Misplaced. Unconcerned. Damning.

I had pushed myself far enough. I needed to see a dentist. I have a pal who left his bank job to become ka-hustler. He once told me that he and his health have reached an agreement – that it shall not fuck up with him and neither he with it. So I called him up. He told me yes, he knows somebody who could fix it within my means. And he’s a pro, he assured me.

Let me now tell you the difference between my old uptown dentist and my new downtown dentist.

My uptown dentist: She’s located off Valley Road. There is her. The stylish and graceful dentist, the one me and my boy have a crush on. Then there are four chicks in the dental room with her. I am not counting the three receptionists. One of whom, I would learn later, ran some scheme which involved off income-statement accounting. Smart woman. We wait at the reception reading recent editions of Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Esquire and GQ.
My Grace works from her throne, some fancy stool that springs up and down when she sits. Its neck is electric blue. It matches the contemporary furniture in the rest of her office.
There’s a chick standing behind me. Her work is to dab the sweat off my forehead during the procedure and straighten the plastic goggles on my face. Sometimes – because she is trying very hard to be helpful and relevant – she will scream to me the instructions the dentist has whispered. Just to make sure I get them clear: SHE HAS SAID YOU STAY STILL. SHE HAS SAID YOU STOP SWALLOWING. SHE HAS SAID YOU STOP BREATHING. SHE HAS SAID WE HAVE FINISHED.
There’s another chick to my left. Her jobo is to hold the suction and bring me a tumbler of water. And – because she also needs to justify her salo – she will straighten the bib around my neck every five minutes.
Then there’s the chick who brings the dentist her tools. A timid mousey woman who stands at my feet with her hands behind her back.
Every one of these chicks wears a starched and pressed uniform in white and blue. Stiff as matrons.
There is some large-ass flat screen above me. My Grace will swivel it to show me my x-ray of where my tooth hurts.
You will pay for all of these goodies. No matter how unnecessary or necessary they are. You will pay for them.

Now let’s travel across town. Let’s get our shoes dusty and shed off some of that uptown braggadocio. Let’s cross streets and roundabouts and across Uhuru Highway to my low-end back-street dentist in the dregs of Pangani.

Location is a bit dinghy. You take the jav from Old Nation Roundabout. Get off at one of the new feeder roads then take a left to the building. He’s on the ground floor. You can’t miss it. A sign-board hangs above his door. It’s written ‘Dentist’. How fun.

It’s a walk-in kinda dentist. Like a lodgo, you don’t make reservations or appointments you walk in. I find six chaps waiting and I take my place. I carried my novel to wait with me, Stories we could tell by Tony Parsons.
His dental assistant is also his receptionist. A lissom chick wearing red lipstick and baggy pants. Her staff blouse is tied in a little knot which sits right above her belly button. She looks like she walked out of the set of one of TLC’s videos. She’s a sexy vixen alright. Until she opens her mouth to call out my name an hour later.

“Frorens? Frorens Betti?”

Hehee. I raise my hand then follow her into the dentist’s office. He’s standing over the sink washing his hands. The dentist. A character straight out of the Muppet Show. Hehhe. Chuta. He’s tall with spiky hair. Round eyes behind rounder glasses. Straight lines for lips. A short-sleeved beige shirt tucked into corduroy pants. Wrapping all this colourless ensemble is a pair of Reeboks. He doesn’t speak much. And when he does, it’s through gritted teeth. As if he’s mad at you. He walks in slow soft steps, with a slight stoop – I would later learn that he’s steps out of his office sporadically to catch a smoke.

The furniture, heavens. How do I describe it? When Nyayo House disposed their furniture and computers from the early ‘90s, most of it landed in this office.

We sit at his desk. I have to lean in cause I can’t quite get him through his gritted teeth.
No fancy flat screens or x-rays – he pokes around my chipped tooth then tells me what he needs to do.

“Cool,” I say. “How much?”

He mentions a figure.

“Come again?”

He mentions the figure again.

“Is that for one tooth or for both?”

“Both,” he says listlessly.

I am now leaning in so close our glasses are almost touching.

“So let me get this straight – all the work, all the grinding and straightening and the new face will take that? For both teeth, for all the work? For both visits?”

“Yes,” he says.

Jesus. I don’t know what to say, man, except for one thing: how the hell do you make any money around here? What sort of business are you running? Do you know how much your colleague across town charges?

“Can we start?” he says.

I settle into his dentist chair, it struggles to support my weight. He stands to my right. No one holds the suction for me, he asks me to hold it myself. The most his vixen assistant does is to place the bib around my neck. It’s full of yellowed holes – it looks like drops of Jik spilt on it and corroded the poor fabric into threads. It barely covers. No goggles. To be fair though, that acrid smell of all things dental is the same here as it is uptown.
Then we began the excruciating two hours of erasing this edge of my personality – I sweated, I napped, I cried, I winced, I bled. I got my face and jeans streaked with pieces of my grinded teeth. I got my jaws sunk into a horse-shoe mould. He sawed and grinded and shaped and reshaped.
Sometimes he would walk out of the room unannounced and leave me there alone, the door open. Still holding my suction. I knew he’d gone to take a smoke cause I’d smell the nicotine off his fingers when he returned.

The outcome was messy. And silly – it’s like pieces of chewed bubble gum had been stuck to my jaws. I look like a donkey. Jeez. My teeth are shorter. But thicker. An extra layer of… something. Still uneven. I ran my tongue over them and they felt foreign.

“Those are temporary,” he said, as if sensing my displeasure from the across the room. “Don’t worry about how they look. We’ll fix the permanent ones next time.”

I’m in between dentist visits now. I have smiled more in the past weeks than most people smile through their teens. I have to smile cause it’s easier, less tiring than keeping my mouth shut over them. I am still zoobing at stuff though. Sorry, my teeth are still zoobing.

And even as I write this, I can still feel them staring as I type one word after the other.

Flattened breasts and forgotten egos
13 weeks later

Comments (11)

  1. Wangechi

    You crack me up every time! Keep it up!

  2. MK

    Great read, Frorens Betti ;)

  3. dskuwe

    Really good. I could see everything just like a movie and when the piece was done J Cole’s crooked smile was playing as the credits rolled up.

  4. Aditnar

    Great material, you are a real artist…

  5. fra

    I am weeks late in responding to this, People. But now is as good a time as any, innit?

    Thank you for reading. And for taking a moment to leave your comment.
    I appreciate the support. Really do.

  6. Nkatha

    Wow, I have those kind of teeth, they always get in the way; n when people compliment my big smile I just think, Really?! Anyway, I’ve learnt to live with them, with some sanctimony… I’m glad they built me some character n a self depricating sense of humour… I have tough skin because I learnt to live with these huge “buck teeth”. N like you, I’m also a freelancer, so no dental cover! I myt have note those directions to the downtown dentist… Touche…

    • fra

      Touché, Nkatha.

      Sanctimony, I like that word.

  7. Christine

    Because I have buck teeth and dark skin everyone thinks I am kalenjin lol. I so feel that part of deleting pics that friends take hahahaha!

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Florence Bett-Kinyatti


Columnist Saturday Nation Writer Craft It Author of best-selling ‘SHOULD I?’ and ‘HOW MUCH?’ ~ Guiding word: Overdrive Subscribe to our Newsletter👇🏾 eepurl.com/igmN8P
  • Dear God, 
It’s me again.

I don’t pray as often as I need to, You know that. I don’t kneel by my bed in child-like humility, as Muna does. I don’t whisper a prayer in the morning. Or at noon. Perhaps just in the evening. 

This going-to-church habit is a constant false start. So is reading the Word. 

I’m often guilty but I also know: You and I have a language only we can understand. 

I speak to You through this gift You bestowed upon my Kale shoulders, this gift to write in colour. It’s a gift that sometimes feels like a curse, a burden I have no choice but to pursue. 

Yet other times – most times, actually – it’s the very breath of my essence. Everyday I sit to write, when the words flow from my head and heart through my fingers to the page, I feel You next to me. 

You are here, Lord. Hovering. Lingering. Swooshing about in Your regal robes, like a character from Bridgerton.

Sometimes You get so close I can feel You breathing on my neck and I’m like, ‘Err, God, do You mind, personal space?’

And You chuckle uncomfortably. ‘He-he, of course. Of course.’

I’m here to tell You, Thanks!

I hosted my first in-person event last March, Lord, thank You to all the lovely ladies who granted me their time and full attention. 

I’ve carried them in my heart since and every day, my prayer is that You bring them closer to the life of abundance they each seek. To their own version of wealth. 

I always call them by their name: Becky. Purity. Lindsay. Wangui. Naomi. Shiqow. Mercy. Liz. Winnie. Polly. Nduta. Lynet. 

And Mike. 

Dear Lord, I’m prepping for my next in-person event in June, Inshallah. 

Walk with me as I get there. 

Love always,

  • Highlights from our first-ever in person event hosted by Craft It and @financialfitbit 
Thanks to all the lovely ladies — and gent, hehe — who honoured us with the privilege of their time and attention. And colourful energy. It’s been weeks since and it’s only now that I’m coming down from the high. 

Thank YOU!

🎥 @mikemuthaka 

#craftit #author #MakeYourMoneyMatter #personalfinance #money
  • I am a woman.

I’m strong. I’m brilliant. I’m like a comet shooting across the sky, I’m so bright you have to put on shades to see me.

I’m almost 40, I’m almost fully realising myself as a woman and the power of womanhood I possess.

I’m so powerful that if KPLC connected me to the national grid, I’d power up this country and we’d never have another blackout.

Ho! Ho! Ho!


To recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day today, I’d like to recognize and celebrate eight women.

I have eight things to give away to each of these women:
a) Two tickets to my upcoming event on March 18 with @financialfitbit Theme is ‘Make your money matter’
b) Three autographed copies of my book ‘Should I?’
c) Three autographed copies of my other book ‘How Much?’

To participate:
1. Like this post
2. Tag women who deserve a win of either event ticket or book (tag as many women as you like)
3. Tell us what you’d like her to win and why she deserves the win
4. Make sure your tagged women follow @_craftit and @financialfitbit 

Here are the rules for the giveaway:
— One woman, one win
— Winners will be contacted via DM
— Giveaway closes at the end of this week, Inshallah, on Sunday 12 March
— Only open to people living in Kenya

All the best!

(Swipe right to see the women I’m celebrating.)

#craftit #internationalwomensday
  • My 2022 word of the year was Wholesome. 

Wholesome meant engaging in moderation and in pursuits that didn’t leave me feeling yucky.

An example: there’re weekend nights I’d go out then have too much to drink. On the drive home, I’d tell GB to stop the car every half mile so I could throw up on the side of the road. Then I’d take three working days recovering. 


No more of that nonsense.

Now I have only two doubles of Singleton whiskey and chase it with water. I eat less food and I eat better. I take my supplements. I treat myself to an early bedtime and arise with my body clock, no alarm.

I spend a lot more time hanging with my kids, Muna and Njeeh. 

I buy fewer things. 

I play the piano. 

I created a disciplined routine for my work and take Thursdays off. 

You catch my drift…

Wholesome has become my lifestyle. 

(By the way, I was asked, ‘Where does this word-of-the-year come from, Bett?’ I don’t know about other people but for me, the words present themselves when I’m journaling. My spirit tells me what it needs; I must be still enough to listen and brave enough to obey.)

My word for 2023 is Overdrive.

My two books have unlocked new opportunities for me as a writer and creative. As an urban brand. I’d honestly not foreseen them. 

I know that if I adjust my sails to where the wind is blowing, these opportunities will translate to wealth.

Last Friday, I listed all the work I’m already doing and all the new opportunities – potential and realised – knocking at my door.

I asked myself, ‘What am I taking up here and what am I dropping?’

The response, ‘None – we go into overdrive and smartly pursue them all.’

#craftit #urbanguide
  • Years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Bett, we’re almost 40 – forget makeup, let’s take care of our skin instead.’

I had to laugh because this was coming from Terry. Terry my Kisii pal, this fine gyal with skin the colour of honey, the only practising SDA in my circle. 

Terry had spent her 20s and early 30s sleek with Arimis. That’s right, the milking jelly with a lactating cow on its logo. 

Arimis addressed all her skin pickles back then. It was her problem fixer. Her Olivia Pope. It’s the one thing that always said, It’s handled.

Now here she was preaching to us about a consistent skincare regimen in the AM and PM.


It wasn’t until Terry shared her selfies on our girls WhatsApp group that I stopped laughing. It wasn’t until we stood next her – and took these selfies – that I reeally stopped laughing: Terry’s skin was youthful and toned, plump. Hydrated. Moistured but not shiny. 

It looked like it had been kissed by the Greek goddess of radiance. 

So we gathered around her feet and said, ‘Forgive us, master. We are ready now. Teach us everything you know.’

She did. 

Terry and I now spend plenty of time before work and before bed squeezing out little portions of expensive skincare products from expensive tubes, we layer them on our face in a calculated measure.

This serum here is for the circles under my eyes and the fine lines around my mouth.

Turns out I’ve been giving away too much of my face: I’ve been looking too hard, laughing too easily.

I’ll have to spend the next year into my 40s with my eyes half shut and laughing little. I'll have a resting bitch face.

Don’t blame me, blame the retinol.

And age.

#craftit #urbanguide #urbangirl
  • I’m Bett. I’m the author of your favourite books about money. I’m hosting an in-person event in March, Inshallah: This is my personal invite to you.

#craftit #moneymaker #moneyinkenya
  • I am hosting my first money event this March, Inhsallah. It’s the first of quarterly events I have planned for the year. 

(Give me a moment here so I pull myself together long enough to write this. I’m smiling very hard right now, ha-ha, I look like a donkey.)


The event will be in-person. On a Saturday morning, a loose three hours which, I am certain, you’d have burned on some other pursuit you couldn’t account for later. (I’d probably be oiling the hinges of a squeaky door or decluttering my sock drawer.)

My guest host for this edition is Lynet Kyalo. 

Lynet is a personal finance coach under her brand @financialfitbit She also hosts @getyourbagrightpodcast 

Buy your tickets from our Market.

Early bird tickets are discounted until the end of this month.

Limited slots available. 

#craftit #millenialmoney #moneyevent #moneymaker
  • Sometimes I sit down and read my own book. 

Odd, huh?

Reading my own stories is like an out-of-body experience. Or getting introduced to myself again. An outward journey inward.

It’s fascinating.

I also read because I need to improve my writing for my next project.

We call them the Elements of Craft: things like sentence structure and punctuation, word placement, story length etc, they all inform your reading experience.

This is what makes the book easy to read, and has you turning the pages.

Cop your autographed copy and #betteryourmoney 

#craftit #howmuch #millenialmoney #moneymaker

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