Monday, December 28, 2009
All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth
One of my enduring memories of Christmas Past (I don't say one of my happiest memories, but let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?) goes back to the Christmas when I was not quite ten years old. My 'First Mother' had left my dad nearly a year previously, and Dad was already engaged to the woman who would soon become his second wife. For a few months, she and her kids and Dad, my brother and I had been in the process of starting to form an identity as the 'blended' family we would soon become. So, that Christmas morning, we all gathered at my soon-to-be stepmother's house for the present-opening festivities. One of the kids (I don't remember which one) got, as a gift, a Time Bomb (TM). Folks my age might remember the Time Bomb as a sort-of glorified 'hot potato' game. A hard black plastic sphere about six inches or so in diameter, with a red 'fuse' which was really the 'winder' for a timer embedded within the 'bomb'. The idea was that you toss the 'bomb' around the circle, and whoever is caught holding it when it 'explodes' (when the timer expired, it emitted a loud 'BANG'), is 'killed', and the game continues with one less player in the next round. Of course, as the round went on, and the players became increasingly aware that the bomb would be going off soon, the pace quickened, and the bomb was being tossed around the circle at a pretty frantic rate, as folks tried to minimize the amount of time the bomb spent in actual contact with their hands. So they would try to just deflect it in the direction of one of the other players, rather than catch it and toss it away. In one such frenetic end-game situation, the bomb was flying in my direction, directly toward my face. I put my hands up to redirect the bomb's trajectory, when it went off with a loud 'BANG' a split-second before I caught it. Which caused me to flinch, my hands jumping apart as I did so. And the bomb hit me, right square in the mouth. I was momentarily stunned. The bomb was a little bit heavy, and it gave me a pretty good whack, which hurt like hell for a second or two. My not-yet-sister gasped, and pointed to the floor, wide-eyed. I looked where she was pointing, and saw two small white triangular pieces of. . . what the heck were they? "Your teeth!" she shrieked. Oh, yeah. . . that's what they were; my teeth. What the heck? My teeth? I instinctively felt around inside my mouth with my tongue, and where my front teeth were supposed to be was a triangular-shaped gap. The bomb had diagonally broken off both of my front teeth, leaving a pair of vampire-like remnants behind (think of it like this - /\). And, as the shock of the impact wore off, a different kind of shock set in, as the raw insides of my front teeth came into contact with the air. Now THAT hurt like hell! I mean, it HURT LIKE HELL!!! Holy cow, did it ever hurt! I covered the raw broken edges with my tongue, and that hurt less than the open air did. But what was I gonna do now? My dad came over and had a look, and just shook his head. It was Christmas morning. We weren't gonna be able to see a dentist, even on an emergency, until the next day, or maybe the day after that. And besides, we were shortly supposed to get in the car and drive three hours to my grandparents' house, which was to be Dad's formal introduction of his new bride-to-be to his family. So, sorry about your teeth, kid; do the best you can, and we'll get you to the dentist as soon as we can, in a couple days. So, I spent that whole Christmas day with my tongue diligently covering the raw broken edges of my front teeth. The rest of my family remembers that day for the ice storm that turned our three-hour trip to Grandma-and-Grandpa's into a seven-hour trip, during which our car spun across the road into a snowbank, and then, when we were finally just a couple miles from my grandparents' house, we were completely stuck (well, not exactly 'stuck', but we couldn't move), on glare ice in the trough between two steep hills. I think a couple of my uncles came and retrieved us with a truckload of sand and salt. As I said, the rest of the family remembers the ice storm; but I remember having to keep my tongue over the broken edges of my teeth. And the stabbing pain that ensued if I ever took it off, for even a second. While the rest of the family had Christmas dinner, I sipped chicken broth through a straw. Yeah; Merry Freakin' Christmas. Ho-ho-frickin'-ho. ------------------------- I endured the two days until I could see the dentist (the return trip back Up North was blessedly uneventful), which started me on a month-long path to getting plastic crowns on both my front teeth, which I kept well into my 30s, before I had them replaced with the porcelain ones I still have today. You wouldn't know, unless you looked very closely. But, if I'm ever disfigured beyond recognition, and need to be identified by my dental records, it'll probably be easier for me than for most. . .