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The whole tooth and nothing but the tooth


“Are you OK with putting some down ahead of time.”

How much?

“Can you do two-fifty?”


Sure … I’ve got the two ones, but I don’t have any quarters.

I don’t know about you — well, that is, beyond what reconnaissance I’m provided in your dossiers from Black Helicopters Inc. — but whenever whoever it was that finished decided on what body parts humans would have … they were ticked off.

They’d been too nice to us. Opposable thumbs, feet that could wear either left socks or right socks, that little ridge between our upper lip and our nose — all the little touches that led us to believe that we were creatures deserving of a comfortable life.

That’s when, in a spurt of devilish glee … they decided to give us teeth.

At least, that’s when they gave me mine — morose mandibles, indecisive incisors, eye teeth that no longer see the light of day.

The “two-fifty” referenced above turned out to be two hundred and fifty dollars for the installation of a crown over the shard-like remainder of yet another bicuspid that was close to biting the dust.

I forked over a piece of plastic, wondering what the ultimate cost would be. For a $250 down payment, this coronation should have been encrusted with rubies or some other righteous gemstones.

By now, as you can see, I’m used to my mouth getting me into trouble.

For this, and other things — or so many other things — I blame the polluted gene pool from which my ancestors first primordially oozed onto dry land.

We get 20 primary and 32 secondary teeth in our lifetimes, and I’m long since the point where I’m playing with a full deck.

The troubles or, as consistent tooth-loss left me lamenting, The Twubbles began early enough and were naturally and nurturally the fault of the ‘rents — two humanoids who were more averse to toothbrushes than Ashlanders would be to a vaccination shot filled with 5G serum.

Sugar went in our yaps (in a remarkably tone-deaf attempt to calm us down), and teeth came out.

By the third (or fourth) grade, it became necessary to see Dr. Smith (honestly, I would have made up a better alias) on a Thursday to have a molar extracted — followed the next week by a visit to have another molar extracted — and so on and sally forth until the quartet were yanked offstage quicker than “Pink Lady and Jeff” lasted on the boob tube.

That is, until the fourth week — for my final molar, not PL&J (who were busy hosting Lorne Greene that day) — when the tooth stayed in place, yet the visit cost more than the previous three.

That door frame never knew what was coming, as a scrawny fourth (or third) grader clung tight for dear life … ultimately dislodging it from the wall … leading to an invoice for my parents and a story for Dr. Smith to tell for years.

Oh, the pain, the pain those molars had caused me. My mother, never one to let things slide when a chance to rub it in presented itself, got her revenge decades later when she presented me with the three molars, wrapped in a box … in the bottom of a Christmas stocking.

The remaining stalagmites and stalactites jutting from the roof and floor stand their ground with the same fortitude shown by the mighty Cumberland College Bulldogs football team — who marched on Atlanta without fear or trepidation Oct. 7, 1916, to take the field against the Engineers of Georgia Tech …

… and lost, 220-0.

They (the teeth, not the Bulldogs) are sensitive to cold, and sensitive to heat, and to touch, and to coming in contact with crackers, cookies, cereal, celery, cauliflower … and coffee that is either too hot or too cold.

A bracing breeze, like inhaling a breath of air on a cold day, could shatter their resolve and reeling from the shock and awe of sharp pain. So, maybe they are like the Bulldogs.

Ah, but who am I to complain. I still have them. Well, some of them. And, on a good day — when the wind is warm and light, when the meal is malleable and the caffeine temperate — they even work without signs of distress.

When that day comes … you’ll read about it here first.

The clocks at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com are permanently set to 2:30.