I took a day off the blog. I have been blogging every day since it began on January 22, 2017. Therefore, I decided a break was needed, so I took one. It felt good. I might take many. So there.
Yesterday, I had lunch with Gail and her daughter Elinor at the University of British Columbia’s posh restaurant: Sage. It was delightful. Both Elinor and I had the special dish, the Duck Confit. It was divine, and I do actually know what I speak of, because I have prepared Duck Confit. Once, and I will never do that again. Anyway, the dish at Sage was so good that I asked to compliment the chef, and out he came. His name was Luke; he said I could include his name and the selfie I took. I am.
It was possible to compliment him based on food knowledge, as it was a familiar preparation. The sides were perfect (well not so much the vegetables), but the fennel was rather divine. We had ‘cake’ at the restaurant for Gail’s birthday, but then we went slightly low key. I love that it was Gail’s birthday because now she is briefly a year older than I am, such fun! I call her an old lady constantly.
I have a new iPhone with a killer plan, but there are features unknown so I made an appointment at the Coquitlam Center Apple Store and I had Mario all to myself. It was fantastic, and now due to his expert tutelage I know a great deal. We did have fun. His parting shot to me was: “Stay Out of Trouble!” My response? A slightly obnoxious sound followed by: “Not likely!”
But, this was the most amazing part of the Coquitlam Center: There is a clinic housed within its walls promising sedation dentistry. It is illegal in the USA I think, but there is a long list of things the clinic also offers, including run of the mill stuff like implants and root canals. But, wait until you hear this!!! It also offers Botox. I said to cousin Gail: “Botox, at a dentist? NEVER.” I have a fantastic story that I wrote eight years ago about the dental malpractice I have suffered through during my lifetime. It is called ‘Mind the Gap’. You must read it. You will weep. It is all true.
MIND THE GAP
I was born with a genetic defeat.
Well, not exactly born with, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s actually a very minor defect, but a genetic defect nonetheless.
At birth, I appeared perfect, with the requisite fingers, toes, arms, legs eyes and nose. Then, I grew teeth. However, the teeth were not perfect. My front teeth stuck out and there was a huge space (wide enough for a tooth) smack in the middle of my two front teeth. In everyday parlance, buck teeth with a space in the middle.
Currently, this condition could be coveted, particularly among those familiar with literature or the world of fashion. Chaucer speaks admirably of the gap-toothed woman in “Canterbury Tales”. Lauren Hutton is a model that makes gap-toothedness sexy. But, when I was struck with the affliction, Lauren Hutton had not yet been born and my parents were not literary.
My father was identified as ‘the carrier’. He had a dominant gene for bad teeth. It went unnoticed, because at the age of twelve his front teeth were involved in a collision course with a hockey puck. The teeth were totalled. The hockey puck went on the lead a useful life.
My parents taught me to smile with my mouth closed, but wanted a more permanent solution and marched me off to the local dentist at the first possible moment. The dentist rendered his professional opinion. He opined that if my baby teeth were surgically removed, the adult teeth would emerge straight and gap free. I still remember the surgery, the feeling of sheer terror, the either mask clamped over my nose and mouth. This was pre-Novocain. “Count backward from ten,” he instructed. This was a difficult task for a five-year-old, but mercifully darkness descended before my ignorance was revealed. I awoke to no front teeth, a condition that remained for two years. Finally, my adult teeth surfaced. Buckteeth, with a space in the middle.
Although I can’t remember how I felt about this at the time, my unnecessary toothlessness must have resulted in a loss of trust in the world in general- dentists and parents in particular. How could I continue to believe in the nobility of pain, when this pain clearly did not lead to gain? I was robbed of the comfort of predictability and certainty. Looking back at it now, I feel outraged. I entertain revenge fantasies, slapping an either mask over the inept dentist’s mouth and nose and yanking out something that would not grow back. Admittedly, the brightest and best of dentists were probably not attracted to the small Saskatchewan on the prairie, but how could this guy be so misinformed? His professional opinion defies logic and science. Did my parents ever hear of second opinions? What were they thinking? Asking a child of five to count backward from ten should have been another clue.
Our family moved to a larger city in the neighbouring province of Alberta. My gap prevented the consumption of each and every row of corn from the cob, but this was only a seasonal disability and it did not lead to major nutritional loss. My schoolmates taunted me by yelling “No Tooth!” whenever they saw me, but the development of a sense of humour and a certain obsequiousness prevented major psyche damage.
The science of the 1950s caused a delay in orthodontia until I was in my late teens, waiting for my mouth to mature. Braces were promised, but delayed. I remember yearning for the privilege of wearing braces. Just prior to my starting high school, the three of us (Mother, Dad and I) went to the first orthodontia appointment. This was nerve wracking in itself. The last time I was part of this trio, I lost my ability to bite. But, phew! This time, there was no counting backward and I left with what I came in with. Dr. Q., the specialist, was a small wiry man, wearing ‘dental whites’ of the time- white pants, a white shirt with a clerical collar, with pens in their protective plastic collar peeking out of the chest pocket. Looking back at the situation some fifty years later and searching for clues, I guess Dr. Q could have seemed a little furtive, and didn’t exactly exude self-confidence. But still, a spark of hope was ignited. After all, I was seeing a specialist, and the science was tested.
After this first consultation, I went to the appointments alone. I climbed on the bus weekly for the journey to my not terribly friendly orthodontist. Braces, elastic bands and pain accompanied my high school years. But, I was transported back to my naïve, ignorant and hopeful self. Not only did I think I would end up with perfect teeth forever; I anticipated that with perfect teeth, I would be beautiful. I was only focusing on my most apparent defect. Graduation from high school and from braces occurred simultaneously. Surprise! No space! Surprise! No beauty. Just me, with no hole in the front.
Unfortunately, there was yet another surprise. Dr. Q. was addicted to alcohol. That was the slightly sweet smell under the covering aroma of mint and antiseptic. Dr. Q. left for ‘the cure’ without supplying me with a retainer. My teeth slowly began to drift apart. My college graduation photo shows me smiling with my mouth closed, hiding buckteeth with a space in the middle.
This heart-rending tale is to be continued in later blog. Please hang in there.