Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
Toothless people.

Toothless people.

Today I had the next in a seemingly endless series of dental appointments guiding me through the wonderful world of “root canal therapy,” as it is called these days, which you have to admit sounds much better than “sucking the bloody nerve pulp out of your rotten, decayed molar, squirting it full of cement goo, and topping it off with a pimpin’ gold crown.” Today was Step Three, the temporary crown, which you can think of as the “rebound tooth.” You see, after you heap one too many abuses on the tooth with which you were going to spend the rest of your life, that tooth eventually gives up, packs its bags, and goes its merry way. Then you’re left with only the worry that you will spend the rest of your life without that tooth. Often you find solace with a temporary partner, Rebound Tooth. (There are all kinds of tongue and saliva jokes I am totally avoiding because at heart I am, above all else, a gentleman who speaketh not such things.) Eventually you give hapless Rebound Tooth the heave-ho in favor of a more permanent partner. This is where the pimpin’ gold comes in, because why not trade up for a tooth with independent means? Plus, as a bonus, in case of global Islamic jihad, you can always get yourself some quick spending cash to hop an emergency flight to New Zealand. Al-Qaeda isn’t interested in New Zealand; they probably think it’s full of talking carnivorous trees and hermaphroditic elves, when in fact it’s full of huge, “might as well be carnivorous” bugs and hermaphroditic fruit.

So anyway, Step Three followed — enough weeks afterward to allow me to mercifully forget the pain involved — the original Step One, “Surprise! You Need a Root Canal!” and the only slightly more popular but infinitely more expensive Step Two, also known as “Pulp Extraction” (not directed by Quentin Tarantino). I also like to think of Step Two as “I Paid My Endodontist $1,000 And All I Got Was This Dead Piece of Bone Where My Tooth Was.” (And why’d it hurt that night? I mean, they took out all the nerves, for Pete’s sake.)

In all seriousness, the previous two steps were not as painful, probably owing to the fact that until now, no one shoved my gumline up to my nasal sinuses using bailing wire, lower arm strength, and a very expensive itty-bitty tooth wrench labeled “Decimator 6000 GX.” This theater of pain was necessary in Step Three, though, to make sure that the previously mentioned pimpin’ gold permanent crown would fit seamlessly on my existing tooth — or rather, what would be left of my existing tooth after the dentist “shaped” it into a foundation. In between the movements of the Dremel Symphony in AAAGGH! Minor, the dental technician rang a bell, and a voluptuous bikini-clad Hawaiian Tropic girl walked around the room with signs like “Round 3.” OK, there was no bikini babe; this was just my way of blithely escaping from this little Marathon Man tableaux during the second movement (presto allegretto).

I also got not one, but two gooey helpings of purple dental form material, used to create a cast of my “before” and “after” molar for purposes of creating the long-awaited pimpin’ gold permanent crown. Now, since it’s purple, and since it goes into your mouth, you would think that it would be charmingly and pleasantly grape-flavored, right? Right? WRONG! Unless you mean, grapes grown from vines springing from the rotten plaque between the molars of Satan. So I’m wondering, why make this stuff purple? Why not make it a more appropriately expectation-setting color, like the grey of a dessicated corpse, or whatever color you call kebab meat?

But boy, does that stuff set up well. So well that as the dentist was prepping my little tooth nub, he looked over at the waiting mold and exclaimed, “Hey, that stuff is setting up already!”, and instantaneously jammed it over my teeth in an attempt to save $3.95 off his out-of-pocket costs for the $1,000 crown procedure and, by avoiding the middle-man, pass that savings on to his bank account. So well did it set up, mind you, that I thought, when it came time to take the molding out, they were simply going to save me the time and hassle of any further visits, ever, by taking all my other, non-root canal therapied teeth with it. Vodka and lowfat ice cream must be good for teeth, though, since all of them reported in as surviving the attempted uprooting. Of course, they reported in by screaming, “Oh God, make it STOP!” through their perfectly intact and functioning nerve endings.

Unfortunately, the premature smack-ulation of hideous purple goo onto my little Lego-nub tooth didn’t work out. So I got to do another three rounds with the Decimator and bailing wire, and once again the process was noticeably bereft of curvy beach-bunny seductresses. On the other hand, I did get to experience the unbridled joy that came along with another mouthful of horrible, anti-grape flavored plaster-of-Hell. Mercifully, this one took, the dentist was able to make me a temporary cap, and I’m counting down the days ’til I can get rid of Rebound Tooth and settle down with a molar with money, someone who can treat my gumline in the manner to which it has become accustomed.