Another sol­dier in the chop­per hop­per

The Beacon Herald - - NEWS - RICK WHE­LAN AS I WAS SAY­ING

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!

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