Another soldier in the chopper hopper
I lost a good friend earlier this week … my upper left canine tooth just up and deserted me. We had a stormy relationship over these many years, but I had grown fond of the old soldier, refusing to surrender when all around him were losing hope.
That old canine had given me the best years of its life and then one day last week, it started to ache. When I tried wiggling it … boom! Something gave way and I knew its days were numbered!
It painfully dangled in place for a few days. I had resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to visit my friendly neighbourhood dentist after the Thanksgiving holiday, have him perform the coup de grace after a quick blast of Novocain and then refit my partial with yet another stand-in. (That partial is getting rather crowded and it will soon become a “total”!)
But you know how you can’t leave a loose tooth alone? Well Saturday night I kept fiddling with it and then, with one solid yank, the end had come. Who said things don’t get easier as you grow older?
I believe I have recounted my sad dental history in these pages before. Back when I was a kid, our city leaders hadn’t yet decided to put fluoride in the water to prevent tooth decay. So my young and innocent choppers were at the mercy of the ill effects of M&M’s, Good % Plenty and Jujubes.
And until I moved to Canada, the dentists I was sent to were not ideal. One guy in particular … I forget his name. He was just out of dental school and fancied himself a real ladies man.
His assistant was quite beautiful. Naturally, he performed for her. He’d pull stuff like put his finger over the air hose and make it “talk.” Or stand on the other side of the room and aim the water hose at my mouth. He’d pull the trigger and miss by a mile while soaking my shirt in the process.
The assistant just loved it! She laughed hysterically! Me … not so much. Even though I was only eight years old, I realized I was being used as a lame comedian’s prop. I vowed to come back when I was grown and do the same thing to him. But he’d moved on by then.
When that day comes when I must choose a new set of teeth, I will definitely not be like some people and order a set of gleaming oversized Chiclets!
I had a friend in high school that had really small teeth. We used to kid him that it was too bad his adult teeth hadn’t come in yet.
Well, said friend eventually became a dentist. And at my 25th high school reunion, he greeted me with the biggest set of caps I have ever seen! At first I thought he was wearing a set of those fake buck teeth you used to buy at the novelty store! They were gigantic! In the group picture, taken in a rather dim room, his teeth shine out like distant beacons.
(I have this theory, which proves more and more accurate as I grow older, that most of our adult life is spent compensating for the shortcomings we suffered when we were kids.)
My uncle Elliot had false teeth ever since I can remember. He was a bit of a rascal but I enjoyed being with him because he seemed to enjoy tweaking the stolid conventions of life at every opportunity.
One afternoon I was riding with him in his car. When a lady cut him off in traffic, he totally lost it. The air turned blue as he cursed her with language he had spent a lifetime learning at various dens of iniquity.
He gunned the car and weaved in and out of traffic, trying to catch up to her to give her a piece of his mind.
We arrived simultaneously at a traffic light. He pulled up beside her, his neck veins bulging dangerously. He rolled down his window and prepared to dress her down in no uncertain terms.
Just as he began his tirade, his upper dentures came flying out and landed unceremoniously on the pavement between us.
He quickly got out of his car, retrieved his choppers as the light changed and the lady drove off.
Nothing was said as he got back in the car and we proceeded on our way. But I still recall the pain as I chomped down on my lower lip to keep myself from laughing.
Note to self. When ordering new teeth, think small and think secure!