Eons ago my wisdom teeth came out far easier than this morning’s Tooth #4, which my dentist described as having a curved root, meaning: curve-ball for what should have been a pretty quick procedure.
‘See?’ my dentist said. He twisted my liberated tooth in the air with tweezers as if displaying both trophy and the Elephant Man. ‘Curved!’ My mouth was stuffed with cotton to stop the bleeding. Why do dentists always ask questions of their patients when speech is impossible? I grunted something, god knows what. ‘Different is good!’ my dentist insisted as I felt saliva, or was it blood, reach my chin. ‘It wasn’t a problem,” he said, as though assuring me. “Just different.’
When I returned home, a pack of frozen peas pressed to my cheek, all I wanted was to watch Sigourney Weaver survive in ‘Alien’. But my 9 year old son was present, so I encouraged him to build Legos on the coffee table while I sprawled on the couch, pickled in Advil, and watched ‘The Durrells in Corfu’. Until, that is, my empathic, animal loving boy objected to the crude leash around the pelican young Gerald Durrell had captured. ‘You’re right,’ I agreed, hastily switching off the TV before my son’s tears could gain momentum. I rubbed his back and had him explain his latest Lego creation, aware of the gap in my mouth, thinking: I get why people want to keep their gall bladders, bottle their tonsils, stick a renegade tooth in a pretty box that lives on a bookshelf. That curved root was a challenge for my dentist AND me (as my fingers ripped the rips in the thighs of my jeans). Was me. A personal, intimate burr. Gone.
It’s okay, Love, it’s okay.
Listen: Metaphor rarely becomes me.