Tuesday, July 26, 2005

On facing fear

When half my tooth crumbled and fell out of my mouth last night, my first thought (well, after the incoherent "what the fu......?" one) was: I wonder when and how this image will show up in a poem?

Most people would think me weird for that. Not that I care. :)

We all have silly things that frighten us, some more than others. Some people are terrified to fly. Others are terrified of snakes, bridges, poverty, the dark. Me, I'm deathly afraid of dentists. I remember once the late great Warren Zevon was interviewed, after he'd been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he said that he'd always been afraid of doctors and that ended up not working out so well for him. With dentists, it's not even so much the fear of pain (though that's there) as the fact that it freaks me out to have someone all up in my face like that, and having my face pushed around, and having someone's hands all in my mouth.

Happily, the new dentist I went to today has very small hands.

So tonight I have one tooth less, and one bottle of vicodin more, than I did before. And eventually, the experience of forcing myself to stay in that chair will turn up in a poem.

I hope it's a funny one. The world needs more funny dental poems.

For the record: when a tooth falls apart and a big piece falls out of your mouth? It feels just like it does in those dreams where your teeth crumble.

On a happier note, I fired up NASA TV online at work today to watch the shuttle launch. It made me really happy. There was one shot from the camera mounted on the fuel tank, looking back at the earth, where first you could see the coastline of Florida and then later the blue curve of the planet.

Years and years and years ago, the very first book of poetry I fell in love with was The Space Child's Mother Goose. I was a child of the Space Age, through and through.

It all connects up somehow, or would if it weren't for this Vicodin.

Things fall apart, just a little, things crumble when we're not expecting them to. But we dope ourselves up and we carry on. And that's what life is all about.

Dear Muse: Please excuse Anne from getting anything done tonight, as she is doped to the gills following her extraction. Sincerely, [illegible scrawl]


sarah said...

Oh, Anne! I'm so sorry to hear about your tooth-crumbling-experience. If only I had know today to show some sympathy!

But please, tell me it's not just like it is in the dream?

Anne said...

Aww, thanks Sarah -- I actually wasn't in any pain today, except just the dread of dealing with the dentist. And when the damn thing broke (while I was eating a piece of cold pizza of all things) it was painless, all of a sudden I had this big chunk of tooth in my mouth -- it was just surreal -- and yeah, pretty much just like in the dream, or at least in mine. Freaky! (I think it was painless because the tooth had apparently already "died" -- the moral of this story: go to the dentist more often than once in a blue moon.)

Patty said...

I have the teeth crumbling dream all the time. So sorry it happened to you in real life!

Laine said...

Wow, I've never had a teeth crumbling dream. I think that would freak me out. I have had a tooth crumble, though. All my sympathy and empathy. I had a root canal Tuesday on a tooth that broke a few years ago. I think my student workers are really enjoying my vicodin induced fog.

I think a funny dental poem would be great. So much about dental visits is ridiculous, really. I mean, you're stuck on your back with a bright light in your eyes, making funny faces and trying not to scream at some stranger who's invading your personal space. Of course, that could totally describe someone making a porno, too.

Okay... I think I need to finish my lunch and get back to some nice, quiet technical writing. My brain can not be trusted right now.

Patty said...

This post got me thinking about dentist poems. Bishop's "In the Waiting Room" comes to mind. Robert Service wrote a poem called "My Dentist." When I was poking around for other dentist poems I came across this gem: "DENTOLOGIA :­A Poem on the Diseases of the Teeth, and their proper Remedies." It can be found here:


Emily Lloyd said...

I have the teeth crumbling dream all the time, too--it's one of my never-fails-to-recur nightmares. Now I want to go look it up in a dream book for all of us...enjoy the high as best you can, Anne, and I'm with you--a great dread of dentists. I've had tons of surgeries and would far rather be knocked out and have someone run steel rods through my bones than have a cavity filled, or even (I know this is awful) a professional teeth cleaning. Not the mouth. Any other hole but that. And I mean that from the depth of my bowels.

Mel said...

I too suffer from "the tooth dream"...and what I like to consider my own personal variation...the pulling of an endless stream of shards of glass from various orifices of my body...they weren't cutting me, necessarily, they just kept coming and coming and coming...yes, this one was a frequent repeater for many years - though I am THRILLED to say I haven't experienced it in several years.

Dentists are our friends - I really love my dentist and I loved the one before her too...and I really don't like all that many people.

jenni said...

Definately need more funny dentist poems. Very sorry to hear about your tooth though! jack and i are flying to btown tomorrow. i don't know how much time we have there (parents just moved and we're helping them) but I'll give you a call and maybe we can have coffee?

Radish King said...


Anne said...

Methinks we need a dental-poem anthology!

Laine, LOL -- that thought had occurred to me too, especially with all the odd, er, instruments that get used. *grin* "Now just open wide... this won't hurt a bit..."

Jenni, for sure! Give me a call. I should be around.

Rebecca, you nearly made me spit diet coke all over my monitor, and I'm not supposed to spit for fear of dislodging the clot and causing dry socket. Damn it! :) (That goes in the anthology, by the way...)

Pris said...

After years, I finally found a dentist who doesn't terrify me to the point of quakes before I go in. I'm the same way about the hands and masked faces in MY face, not to mention the drill. Egahhhh! She has an office with the chairs in one big room where the hygienist cleans, too, so there's at least no feeling of also being trapped in a tiny room at the same time with that...drill.

Glad you came through it okay!

Anonymous said...

"things crumble when we're not expecting them to...but we dope ourselves up and we carry on. And that's what life is all about."

I stumbled upon your blog rather innocently while looking for info on a crumbled tooth - and left with a great quote.

Thank you.