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Monday, October 8, 2012

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Mark and I got married on October 2, 2010, so Tuesday should have been our second wedding anniversary.  We didn’t make it to our first anniversary so, really, last Tuesday was the first anniversary of our not having a first anniversary. 

I had no specific plans to avoid observing the date, nor did I intend to confront it head-on like I did last year.  Either approach seemed like overdoing it, I thought. So I did exactly nothing, yet somehow it turned out perfectly.  Perfectly awful, that is.

I dislike Tuesdays and have for years.  The day has nothing going for it, in my opinion.  Monday has plenty of detractors but at least on that day you still have residual good vibes from the weekend.  Wednesday represents the weekly tipping point, and Thursday is just a gateway to Friday, which is enjoys premium status as the weekend opener.  But Tuesday, it’s got nuthin’. 

I’ve been preaching the badness of Tuesdays since the early 1990s, when I felt I had enough evidence to convert it to the following theorem: “Nothing good happens on a Tuesday.”  If you were born on a Tuesday, don’t blame me but do consider suing your parents. (And don’t lose hope altogether: as with all theorems, the occasional exception surfaces.)

So calendar-wise, I started off in the hole.  Then Mother Nature came along and flooded that hole with torrential rain that lasted most of the day. (My actual wedding day featured cloudless blue skies and seventy degree temps.)  

Rainy days can be great when timed well, but this one wasn’t.  I had recently hired a lawn service to rehabilitate my ailing yard. The company uses a multi-phase approach, like all good rehab programs. Phase 1, which they finished two weeks ago, consists of killing the weeds.  In my case, this entailed killing the yard itself, giving me the only albino lawn on the street. 

In Phase 2, the service re-seeds the whole lawn.  They finished that on October 1, maybe 16 hours before the non-niversary rains began.  The street I live on slopes rather steeply and my house sits toward the bottom of the hill.  When we get a deluge, the water rushes downhill and goes tearing through my backyard before it ends in a pool who knows where.  Based on the biblical downpours on Tuesday, I probably didn’t retain a single seed but a homeowner in East Falls Church should awake to a spectacular and verdant lawn in just a couple weeks.

At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, I went to the periodontist for a follow-up appointment regarding my gums because it turns out that the recession didn’t hit just the auto industry.  You might wonder why I scheduled the appointment for a Tuesday, given the Theorem, but my move was calculated. 

For over thirty years, dentists, orthodontists, microendodontists (and even full-sized endodontists) have waged assaults of varying magnitude on my mouth.  In all that time, not once has a dental professional burst into the room and said, “Please, let me fix your mouth for free! I beg you!”  Instead, they act like a humane neighboring country and basically offer my cash refugee status from its war-torn home.  This allows huge quantities of it to make a swift and safe exodus out of my wallet and into theirs. 

When I had the initial consultation a few weeks back, the periodontist ended it by patting my shoulder.

“I’m confident I can help you,” he said,  which is universally understood to mean, “Thank you for offering to finance my family’s two week trip to Bora Bora.”  I went straight for the Tuesday appointment, not wanting to endanger the other days of the work week with the likelihood of staggeringly bad dental news.

I had chosen wisely.  The doctor took me through an 18-slide, thirty-minute presentation on the anatomy of teeth and gums.  Due to gum recession, the bones of my teeth had shifted and were starting to sink, Venice-like.   Periodontists combat this by constructing a wall of sandbags in the patient’s mouth. 

I’m kidding.  A mouth lined with two feet of grit would be preferable to the actual remedy, a charming procedure known as “gum grafting.”  This is a form of oral surgery in which the periodontist scrapes skin from your palate and sticks it on to your gums.  The extra skin fortifies them.  Without the boost, your teeth would be like the top girl on a two-person cheerleading formation –they'll stand up but they might be a bit wobbly and eventually they could topple over.

After he explained this (in slightly more technical terms) he summed up by saying, “The good news is you don’t have periodontal disease.”  Dentists love to inform patients using the good news/bad news format so I knew where he was headed next.  The impish look on his face warned me that he was going to attempt humor along the way.  “The bad news is you do have ‘patient’s disease.’” He let out a little chortle and elaborated.       

I’d somehow gone overboard in taking care of my teeth, he told me.  On hearing this I didn’t feel like laughing.  I felt like punching him. 

I managed to squelch my pugilistic urges but couldn’t suppress the need to defend myself.  I pointed out that I used an electric toothbrush, like the experts say you should. True, he said, but it was the wrong kind of electric toothbrush for my dental bone structure.  Of course.  I must’ve missed that when they covered it in law school.

And my habit of flossing two times a day was too religious.  Apparently I should’ve been on a more agnostic frequency.  The cost of my hygienic overzealousness and weak dental genes? $7,500.  (Figures that a procedure this expensive goes by a term whose secondary meaning is “corruption or bribery.”)

“How much are dentures?” I asked.  I could do a lot with $7,500, such as buy first-class plane fare to Italy, where my mouth could decompose amid picturesque scenery.  But the credit card companies have trained me well and I understand that teeth are “priceless,” so I guess I’ll be having my gums grafted instead of going on a nice vacation or five.  But I’m heartened to have a chance to help send somebody else on one.   



  1. But hey, you can enjoy a virtual trip to Bora Bora each time you visit his office in the future, by way of the trip photos he hangs on the walls. What's a one-time real vacation when you can relive it in perpetuity each time you're in the chair?

  2. Most of the time when I'm in the chair I'm reliving my last horrific experience there, so a little vicarious vacationing would represent a major improvement!!

  3. Wow! Now I know why you said last Tuesday was a real stinker. Sorry to hear about your exceptional teeth and the ramifications of overflossing. See what happens when you are an overachiever?
    I still don't understand how your teeth can be teetering on the brink of falling out of your mouth?! Skin grafts?! WTF?! I think you need a second opinion on this one. I'm calling "BS".

  4. If my net worth is positive, my teeth deserve all the credit. You make a good point about a second opinion. Your "BS" call appears to qualify, so I think that means I should go ahead and book the trip to Italy. Thanks!! I just knew this blog would pay dividends.