Wednesday, December 28, 2011

SMILE when you say that!

If you are in show business or any other business really, teeth can play an important part in your success. Imagine where Meryl Streep would be today if, the minute she smiled in a close-up shot, she revealed a mouth full of what appeared to be kernels of that weird- looking multi-colored Halloween corn instead of the sparkling, shiny choppers that we know and love. She would instantly be reduced to playing nothing but old beggar ladies or fish mongers who lived in the Middle Ages, and there aren’t a whole lot of those movies being made these days. Yes, my friends, teeth can mean the difference between a life of luxury, riches, and the adulation of millions throughout the nearly civilized world, and the rest of us, who are doomed to be the adulators.

Teeth can be life savers as well, as proven by my friend Kate. For several years, she was without several of her more important chomping teeth, which caused her to frequently choke on the mushroom caps at our local Chinese buffet. While this was good for keeping up my Heimlich skills, the owner of the restaurant claimed that it was bad for business and banned us from the establishment forever. I am happy to report that she has since replaced the missing teeth and can now eat all the mushrooms she could ever want. Our discrimination lawsuit against Ming’s House of Endless Food is pending.         

But there is a darker, sinister side to teeth, one we seldom hear about. And today, I am going to reveal it to the world, in what will surely come to be known as “The Essay”. The Literati will speak of it in the same hushed, reverent tones as the musicologists do when they refer to Frank Sinatra as “The Voice”. That’s how damned good it is. In fact, right now, the buzz from this little story is raising the neck hair of every member of the Pulitzer Prize committee in anticipatory titillation, according Mrs. Louisa Tisch, my psychic and pet groomer. I just want to go on record by stating that world-wide acclaim will not change me in the least; although I might finally have enough money to purchase some much-need things such as food and dental insurance. But enough of this tom-foolery. Let’s sink what teeth I have left into the meat of this matter.

The human body is a remarkable thing, as we all know. Modern medicine has made incredible strides in keeping us alive much longer than we really need to be. Thanks to the brilliance of doctors and researchers, we now can be assured that the amount of years in which our quality of life deteriorates will last far longer than our 401Ks and pensions, thus guaranteeing that we will die penniless.  

What does this have to do with teeth, you say? NOTHING.  I just needed to point out the folly of our medical system. But now, back to the real reason for all of this; our devious, horrible teeth.

As mentioned above, the body human is a complex series of cells, microbes, muscles and circulatory pathways that can only have been created by a being far superior to our puny selves. I mean, we can’t even get decent cell phone coverage in certain areas of the country; and we’re going to build a body? HA!

And yet, this superior being, with all its infinite wisdom, is incapable of getting the teeth thing right. What is up with that?

Think about this for a second and tell me if you agree or not. All human beings are born with at least two sets of teeth (although some get three, the lucky bastards) The baby teeth come in at about a year or so after we are born, and stay with us for approximately twelve years or so until they fall out as if by magic. We then place these teeth under our pillow and wake up the next morning to find that money has magically appeared in their place! We take this money, put it in a savings account, and by the time we’re about sixty-two years old, will have earned enough to buy our first house.

Once those baby teeth are gone, they are replaced by the adult teeth, which are expected to last the rest of our lives! What the hell? Why does the first set of teeth only last a maximum of twelve years and the adult teeth have to go on for seventy years? Was Evolution asleep at the wheel here? Is this the result of some devious plot by the Dental Cartel? Come on DNA, it’s time to update the software!

I bring all of this valuable information to your attention to both educate, enlighten, and because I have just had five of the worst tooth days of my adult life. Let me explain.

Teeth are intelligent, evil beings. On the surface, they appear innocent enough. But while you are asleep, they get together and hatch a plot to attack and debilitate you, and always at the worst possible moment.

Take the recent long, Christmas weekend, for instance. I was invited to a very exclusive dinner party thrown by the Daughters of Sappho at their secret, New Jersey waterfront location. This party is held once a year, on Christmas Eve, and it celebrates the Italian tradition of the Seven Fishes, in which each course contains a different kind of seafood. The food is to die for and invitations are limited to eight people, so I was not about to miss it. Little did I know that my teeth were hatching a heinous battle plan that very morning to destroy the little joy I have left in life.

It all began in the shower. I was scrubbing and exfoliating for the big event that evening, despite the fact that it was only Saturday and I was not due to exfoliate again until SUNDAY!

All was well. I was singing selections from West Side Story, and generally felt peace on earth and good will toward women. Life was good.... No life was great, right up until I noticed what I thought was something stuck in the capped tooth in the very front of my mouth. That’s when THEY struck.

As I gently picked at the food particle with my fingernail, the entire crown came out of my head! There I was, covered with exfoliant, holding the crown jewel of my winning smile in my hand! Oh the humanity.

I immediately called Dr. Ed, my favorite dentist. Surely, I thought, he would be available to meet me at the office and glue the damned thing back into place, so that I might once again have my drop dead good looks restored. Instead, his machine answered and politely informed me that the office was closed until today, Wednesday! The only glimmer of hope in was the little addendum at the end which stated (and I quote), “If this is a true emergency please leave a message as I do check this machine from time to time”.  I still haven’t heard from him, which causes me to wonder exactly what he considers an emergency.

So I go to the party, and somehow manage to eat enough fish to give me a lifetime supply of Omega-3 fatty acids. It was wonderful. As it turned out, my ability to eat wasn’t hindered the following day either. Christmas dinner was a gastronomical delight. It was apparent that Dr. Ed was right after all; it wasn’t an emergency. Until last night, that is. That’s when my teeth began their second wave of assault on my psyche and my pocketbook.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that my friend Nick has been visiting me. Well, last night, we decided to go for dinner in Asbury Park, New Jersey, my favorite place in the world. If you are not familiar with it, it is the home of Bruce Springsteen and the Gay Mecca of our fair state.

We went to a little place called the Brick Wall Tavern on Cookman Street. The Brick Wall has great food at reasonable prices, and a good, friendly vibe. I ordered a cheeseburger and Nick had soup and buffalo wings.

Halfway through my burger, I felt a crunching sensation in my mouth. Thinking it might be a piece of cow bone, I pulled it out and immediately realized that it was part of ANOTHER tooth that had broken off, leaving this gaping hole and sharp ragged edge where my tooth used to be. 

“SON OF A BITCH!” I cried out.

“Hey, this soup is really good”, replied Nick.

“We got her good, this time,” my teeth said, laughing hysterically. “Happy New Year!”

So, it is now Wednesday. Dr Ed will be back in the office. I will go there, be charged for an emergency visit, and am looking at what will probably be at least a thousand dollars in dental work. Once more I will consider just having all the bastards pulled and joining the Polygrip Brigade that populates my little town of senior citizens. In my quiet moments I will reflect upon the absolute neglect genetic scientists have had toward the spontaneous regeneration of teeth. I will curse the injustice that is readily apparent to any thinking person that sharks, which prey on innocent surfers all the time, are able to grow new teeth every time they leave one in the dangling bloody stump that once was the vital limb of their prey.  Do they really need to maintain their deadliness?

So there it is. I hope that you take this little tale of horror to heart. And tonight, while you drifting into the arms of Morpheus on your Temper-Pedic sleep system, you'll keep an eye-tooth open to the goings on inside your mouth. It’s a jungle in there. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to dust off a shelf so that I have a place to put my Pulitzer.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, Everybody eat. Abbondanza!    





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