The twice-lost tooth, Ed Sullivan’s laughing man, and perseverance

Sometimes you just have to persevere, keep moving, and wrestle the Gods of Chaos to the ground rather than go back to bed.

It’s pathetic how a little thing can bring me down. Know what I mean? Like this morning when I lost that plastic, false tooth the World’s Best Dentist had made for me, oh, about two years, maybe three years ago – quite a while, anyway. It was supposed to be temporary, until I was ready to spend enough money to buy a used pick-up to equip my mouth with a single-tooth bridge. The temporary front tooth has sufficed, thank you, though it was pricey enough in its own right.

This morning wasn’t the first time I’d lost it. Last summer I was picking corn and, as I do sometimes, eating the odd cob right-off-the-stalk raw. Don’t laugh; sweet corn is pretty tasty seconds after it’s picked. But removal of the false tooth is necessary to avoid breakage.

So, nowadays I am required to eat my all-time favourite food with just one upper front-tooth. It’s a learned technique, all about precise bite angles and tactile sensitivity. I still have a way to go to master it; but I persevere. Usually I remove the tooth and put it in my shirt pocket, snuggled up with my cell phone.

(By the way, in social situations, because I’ve learned it grosses people out, as in “oooo, that’s gross,” I look for a window-of-opportunity: people looking away, leaning over to talk to someone else at the table, even, in a pinch, the collective, unconsciously-synchronized blinking of eyes. Plus, a certain sleight-of-hand skill I have developed comes into play. In other words, I am in the process of becoming the magician of dinner-table, false-tooth removal. If I were younger, I might seriously consider a pantomime act of sorts. I’m sure a certain type of Parisien, or otherwise “Hip” audience would be amused.

(If I may further digress for another moment, I suddenly recall the favourite act I ever saw on the old Ed Sullivan Show, when a man carrying a simple, white-painted chair came out on stage. He sat down on the chair and did nothing for a few moments; but then very slowly, and tentatively at first he started to laugh. People in the live, studio audience, and, I assume, many millions like me in living rooms around the world didn’t know quite what to make of it. But he laughed with steadily increasing energy and loudness, until he reached a point where he was laughing so loud and with such physical intensity he almost fell off the chair. Why, he was laughing so hard there were tears streaming down his face.


My laughing chair

(Guess what happened? Right, everybody in the large studio audience ended up laughing uproariously as well, as did I, and, I’m willing to bet,  a vast multitude the world over. It was a joyfully contagious connection. Then, suddenly, the laughing man stopped, picked up his chair and walked off the stage. He had not uttered a single word. I can still see Ed Sullivan smiling that inscrutable, Cheshire-Cat smile, as if he had, yet again, pulled off an entertainment coup, liked bringing the Beatles, or the Crickets to his stage. Or Elvis Presley.)

Anyway, later that day last summer I had occasion to reach into my shirt pocket for my cell phone, when I noticed the tooth was absent, not there, missing, gone. And my heart  sank, for I realized right away that I must have missed the pocket in my haste earlier to bite into a fresh-picked ear of Peaches and Cream. My tooth was out there somewhere, fairly close to the top of a row on the far side, I figured. It was getting late in the evening. I searched on my hands and knees for a good two hours as dusk gave way to the darkness of night – but no tooth did I find.

So, to make a long story short, I spent the next two weeks or so trying to avoid smiling too broadly when out and about. Meanwhile, I searched the corn patch time and time again, ‘til I finally despaired of ever finding the missing tooth. Of course, you know, dear reader, how this little story-within-a-story ends: one day in late September I was cutting corn stalks with my trusty old machete  when I leaned down to gather some up, and there was the tooth, the very tooth I lost this morning.

My essential morning routine of coffee and quiet time listening to CBC Radio news was thrown off entirely as I searched high and low through pockets, coats, shirts, even laundry. If my friend Aussie had been here I would have given him a stern look and asked, “Aussie, did you eat my tooth?” He would have just wagged his tail, and smiled. Yes, dogs smile.

As usual I went to the worst-case scenario: the tooth was a goner for sure this time. I kept telling myself it was no big deal, compared with the greater scheme of things in a troubled world. But it was a downer, nonetheless.

So I went about my morning as best I could; but it was just one thing after another, as it appeared the Gods of Daily Chaos were having fun at my expense. (Oh,oh, a little paranoia shows its revealing head there, I daresay.) First, Mr. Massey Too wouldn’t start, despite the morning sunshine. So, I plugged him in, and put his battery on charge for a half-hour or so. And that did the trick, right away.

I headed over to Wild Apple Farm to blow out the driveway and the mailbox for Her Ladyship. After a rather difficult go at a certain point I noticed the snow-blower was badly misaligned, and the PTO shaft was, of course, making an awful racket. I shut down the PTO, and the tractor, just like the safety-manual says you should, and had a look. The end of one of the three-point hitch arms was turned up in a 90-degree angle, instead of straight. That was it for snow-blowing until it was fixed.

Turned out, back at Cathedral Drive farm, it wasn’t that big a deal, though of course, I had quickly written an expensive, worst-case-scenario script. But a well-placed long-shafted pry bar set things to right.

I figured I deserved a coffee, and a bite to eat. In too big a hurry as usual, I dropped a sliced of bread on the floor. Leaning down to pick it up, I spotted something pink and off-white, to put it kindly – my lost, plastic tooth.

Suffice it to say, there was much relief and rejoicing as I . . . well, let’s just say, I put it back where it belongs.

After all, I don’t want to gross anybody out.

And there it remains.

So, the moral of the story is, as I say, don’t give up. Persevere. Keep going, and increase the odds of good things happening – little things, and big ones too.

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