Gather ‘round, children—it’s storytime! Once upon a time, over a decade ago, when your Auntie Mai was still an avowed New Yorker most at home strolling (and shopping) the streets of Soho, she experienced a celebrity encounter that shook her to the core. If you’re a resident of New York City, you’re well-accustomed to walking amongst celebs, so trust me when I say that it takes a real happening to stir the seasoned city dweller’s senses.
For instance, there was the time I nearly ran into Sade head-on while browsing an antique market on Houston Street. In true Sade fashion, she was wearing her trademark ponytail, red lipstick, white oxford and jeans; she looked me dead in the eye for a moment, cocking her head in a half-smile before drifting away (as only Sade could). Or, there was the time I locked eyes with Keanu Reeves as we passed each other on an otherwise empty Upper East Side street early one morning; I’d never once had an inkling of attraction to the actor onscreen, but to date, he’s one of the most beautiful men I’ve ever seen in person.
But I digress.
By far, one of my most memorable celebrity sightings occurred on one of those aforementioned Soho streets, back when I was still a full-time model and admittedly feeling fly most days. It was a steamy summer afternoon, and the streets of the neighborhood were uncharacteristically quiet as I noted a tall, broad-shouldered figure coming my way. Having never been much of a football fan, I didn’t clock him as then-newly retired New York Giant Michael Strahan until he was close enough for us to catch each other’s eyes—and he flashed me that multimillion-dollar, gap-toothed grin.
It’s a wonder I didn’t melt into a puddle right there on Spring Street.
Truly, I was so stunned by the man’s utter adorableness that I couldn’t even speak—I’m not even sure I had the presence of mind to smile back (and remember: at the time, I gave face for a living). But I have lowkey crushed on Strahan (and his slight gap-induced lisp) ever since—that is, until this.
Apparently, my favorite gap-toothed crush has decided to change his iconic smile, so it is with great regret that I hang up my cleats and retire my Strahan jersey, because we don’t go together no mo’.
Why you ask? Well, maybe it’s because I’m the bearer of a slight gap myself, but there’s something about that so-called imperfection I’ve always found sexy—vulnerable, even. For Strahan, it’s more; arguably, it’s an identifiable part of his ever-evolving brand. The man himself admitted as much as he documented the before and after of his smile transformation online, noting that basically no one in his life would be in agreement with him changing his trademark smile, but nevertheless, “I gotta do what I wanna do for myself.”
While I agree and fully respect the man’s agency and prerogative to do what he wants with his own teeth, seeing footage of him on a New York street after the procedure, I couldn’t help but wonder *Carrie Bradshaw voice*: Would this smile have stopped me in my stilettos?
Truthfully, it feels like some of the magic is gone...but considering that we’re only a day away from April Fool’s Day, is it gone permanently? After all, as noted by HuffPost, it was just last week that Strahan was claiming pride over the then-famous space between his two front teeth, hashtagging a March 23 tweet “#ItDoesn’tFitEveryone.”
Forgive me if I hope the Hall of Famer is just playing with our emotions with a well-timed prank, but only time will tell. Until then, I will reminisce fondly over what was and lay my longtime infatuation to rest because Michael Strahan without a gap? In the immortal words of former Strahan, Sara and Keke co-host Keke Palmer: Sorry to this man.
Updated: Thursday, 4/1/21 at 4:55 p.m. ET: Strahan, baby, why you do us like this? As suspected, the gap-toothed grin of everyone’s favorite athlete-turned-morning show darling will, in fact, be staying that way. Thanking all of us for our overwhelming attention and concern, Michael Strahan has revealed that his new look was simply a playful-but-thankfully temporary prank, thanks to a faux-veneer assist from Dr. Lee.
Suffice to say, your Auntie Mai is delighted by this development, and will once again be sleeping in her Strahan jersey—because our love is clearly here to stay.