Monday, March 05, 2018


Teeth. Do you want to talk about teeth? I'll go ahead anyway. A bit of torture at the dentist this morning motivates me.

I was born with wonky teeth. They showed up when baby teeth usually show up. Why didn't my parents notice? Why didn't they take me to an orthodontist immediately? Because it was Paris and they were busy having a good time, I suppose but I could be wrong. Anyway I grew up with wonky teeth, too crowded, whatever. Later in America I was the odd one out in school because all the kids were giants with perfect teeth. 99% of Americans have perfect teeth, it must be all that milk. I was (am) short, hated milk, had buck teeth and spoke with a French accent. As time went by I adapted and my smile was good enough, sexy enough to get by in this tooth-eat-tooth world. 

However, there's always a big however if you're born with wonkies, and as much more time went by the wonkiness played up. I'll skip the details but below is a page from my book Augustine's True Confession (1979) just to illustrate this post. If you want to read the book (it's good and not about teeth) I'll send you a copy, signed, for £10 plus postage. Yes that was a commercial break, an honest one.

As I was saying, lots of time went by and now it's today and I've just been tortured at the dentist because another loose tooth had to go. So today I have only 12 teeth of my own, 4 at the top and 8 at the bottom. Yesterday I had 13.

I know I shouldn't be talking about this because it's a secret. We who are afflicted D starts with dent.....Got it? We who have those fakes have to pretend they're real. But they ain't, right? Fake news ain't real news and never shall be. That's all for today.

Please note well: the page below (from the book) was written in 1979. I do not have pain in my mouth today. The injection before today's extraction was painful but it's gone now and I'm fine.


Catalyst said...

I sympathize with you. I've been reading a collection of the letters of S.J. Perelman and ran across a quote just yesterday that might go well with your blog post today. He is reputed to have written: "I'll dispose of my teeth as I see fit, and after they've gone, I'll get along. I started off living on gruel, and by God, I can always go back to it again."

Roderick Robinson said...

In the mid-sixties not to have good teeth in the USA was the equivalent of poverty or being stricken by a social disease. When Kenneth Clarke's TV series Civilisation was shown in the US several commenters couldn't get over the fact that he was snaggle-toothed; later when he became Lord Clarke no doubt they were even more appalled. How could one pronounce on the world's wonders when one's mouth looked like a Tennessee fence?

My teeth were fine but during my first week I happened to mention my lack of "belief". My hostess, a middle-aged lady taking me to her class reunion as a diversion, became silent then spoke cautiously. Told me I shouldn't raise the subject - ever again.

Before I bought a car a guy my age used to pick me up and drive me to the office. I knew he was was RC but hadn't realised his devoutness. Were I to drop dead, he said abruptly one morning, his first act would be to rush to my apartment, grab my newly born daughter and take her off to be christened. I imagined him struggling with my wife, alas another non-believer. Wondered who'd win.

Years later I acted as usher when my best friend, another Catholic, got married in upstate New York. At one point all the other ushers were required to step forward to what I suppose was the altar rail. "But you," said the soon-to-be bride, laughing, "will kinda hang back." I laughed back, promising not offend anyone. The whole event charmed me - I wore a specially hired "stroller".

N. D'Arbeloff said...

Bruce, the perfect quote! Love it. I don't have to live on gruel because I've got used to living with fake thing. HOWEVER just this minute I got a phone call from the dental practice that I must wait another week for the modified thing (one new tooth added). I am not taking this lying down, no sir! To the barricades right now.

Robbie, yup, "not to have good teeth in the USA was the equivalent of poverty or being stricken by a social disease." Your mini-memoir has lightened my day. The worship of perfect teeth, status, money and religion is of course not uniquely American but in the USA it's shame-free and not hidden. Which is both refreshing and shocking.

Anonymous said...

I've had four molars out: I still, thankfully, find it easier to count the the teeth I've lost, as opposed to the ones I've got left! Those injections are b?!??$#s.

N. D'Arbeloff said...

Dom, I've lost count of how many teeth a normal mouth is supposed to have. The only thing I envy in other people is a complete set of original (ie their own) strong, white, even or more-or-less even teeth.

Yes indeed, in-the-palate injections should be banned in Human Rights and Wrongs laws.