Saturday, May 27, 2017

Long of Tooth

George Washington could never tell a lie. However, before chopping down that tree he may have eaten all the cherries and forgotten to mention it. Teeth don’t lie either; they register every Milky Way bar and malted milk that ever passed through their ivory gates. Every childhood has its cavities of truth.

Proof that we weren’t meant to live this long is the state of our molars by the ninth decade. Friends of ours have opted for implants spending enough money to buy a new Lexus …which their dentists probably did instead. My old buddy from New York traveled to Florida where the cost is about half. If he’d kept going south to Brazil he could have saved another few thousand. In fact rumor has it there’s a dentist in the Amazon rainforest who will do it for the price of a bicycle. And he might even use previously-owned jaguar’s choppers.

I lost a molar a few weeks ago. I didn’t really lose it. It just wanted out having grown tired of my mouth after all these years. My dentist offered it to me for an under-pillow visitation but I declined. I’m enjoying the negative space. My tongue, which is the most curious of organs, keeps exploring the cavern. The alternative is to crown the adjacent teeth and get a bridge but I don’t want to die with my daughters’ inheritance in my mouth so I shall learn to love my new line-up.

I imagine dentists must dream of boy scouts or chorus girls perfectly lined up like corn on the cob. There’s something faintly fascistic about that much order. On the other hand fangs have little to recommend themselves either. Saber-toothed tigers went through life without benefit of a veterinary orthodontist. No wonder they ended up in the Tar Pits on Wilshire Blvd.   

Legend has it that Cadmus, the dragon-slayer, not only dealt the fatal blow but also removed the fire-breathers teeth which he sowed in the earth and up came the city of Thebes. One wonders how many teeth were needed for Los Angeles to bloom. Considering our sprawl they must have been gapped.

To set the record straight it is not true that termites got to Washington’s wooden dentures. Or even that he had teeth of wood. They were probably made from cows, horses, metal alloys or even humans. Possibly soldiers who didn’t make it through Valley Forge.

In the interest of historical truth (now out of fashion) it should be noted that Washington may have won the war because of his teeth. The British intercepted a message indicating that George would not be able to get to Philadelphia to see his dentist. The British Gen. Clinton (no relation to Bill & Hill) interpreted it to mean that Washington would remain in the New York area and not move his army south to Virginia and therefore the Brits needn’t bother to reinforce their troops. Washington, of course, did march his men to defeat Cornwallis at Yorktown, with much help from the French fleet.

One might say he cut the Red Coats into bite-size pieces. We need our teeth with all that history gives us to chew on.


  1. Norm, I love all of your blogs and am trying to catch up. But we have friends and family coming and going for 5 solid weeks and then I go to Santa Fe, NM and Grant City,Missouri with my friend Zoe Ann to deliver her mother's ashes for burial. So I lam reading them as can and loving each and every one!!!

  2. Thank you, Alone, they are usually better left unread for a few days. I'm always adding or deleting as I re-read them. When I hear Missouri I want to recommend a novel set there called, The Maid's Version" by Daniel Woodrell. Have a great trip