Life has been so hectic since just before Christmas that I’ve fallen far behind on blogging – which I’ve also been taking too seriously, as if I have to write a polished essay each time, instead of just a journal entry, from which a book of essays might later be quarried. So I guess it’s about time to start catching up – a process which will take several entries over several weeks, I’m afraid.

I had a tooth pulled and an implant inserted in its place on Tuesday. The tooth – third from the back molar on the top left – had been bothering me ever since I’d bit down hard on an olive pit a few years ago in my favorite locally baked bread – Dahlia Bakery’s Kalamata Olive Ciabatta, the only artisan bread in Seattle with a thin delicate crust. All the rest, except for the baguettes at the authentic French place in Pike Market, are horrible thick chewy affairs, which make me miss the Acme bread I’d eaten in the Bay Area terribly. Alas, all this delicacy merely serves to hide the treachery of the pits that somehow slip past their bakers with alarming regularity.

I’d thought of complaining at the time, maybe asking for restitution; but like most of us, I’d no doubt weakened the tooth well before the pit encounter through years of crunching on those delicious half-popped kernels of popcorn – which sometimes turn out to be not quite half popped. Or the unpopped kernels that sometime attach to the most addictive of supposedly healthy, but actually quite unhealthy, snack foods – SmartFood cheddar-coated popcorn, which as I recall I first discovered working long hours in the Yale computer center on graduate school essays, before the advent of the home PC.

So when I bit down on a partly cooked grain of Spanish rice at Cactus in Kirkland last Saturday, heard a crack and felt a sharp pain, I wasn’t really surprised – though I was pissed off at my continuing bad luck with teeth at the beginning of holiday weekends, in this case Presidents’ Day weekend, when dentists are increasingly hard to come by. The first time this happened was Memorial Day weekend my second or third year in graduate school, when I bit down on a bone chip in a burger I’d just barbecued, but had the good fortune to find a dentist willing to come into the office that very afternoon to do an emergency root canal (my first) on it.

The last time was again on Memorial Day weekend, but just two years ago, when a crowned molar started aching and I discovered that my own dentist did not even offer an emergency number. I called my wife’s dentist, who prescribed codeine – but the pain was so intense, even the codeine didn’t succeed in fully blocking it, though it did finally diminish. On Tuesday I went to my dentist, who informed me I’d endured the death of the tooth, after which the pain of course diminished, since the nerve was gone, and sent me to the endontist – they’re quite high tech these days, shoving microscopes in your mouth, drilling right through the existing crown, sucking the pulp out and filling the root canal with whatever it is they use in record time, about a half hour. We were on our way to celebrate our anniversary at the Sooke Harbour House on Victoria Island – my dentist had said we’d be able to make it, and should, he still remembered the meal he’d had in their dining room himself – by the early afternoon.

After this I decided to switch dentists, of course – you never know when an emergency might arise – or would inevitably, as I learned again last weekend. Plus when a little inflammation continued to bother me the next week, he offered to prescribe antiobics – and told me I need only take half the course of them, and could save the rest as an emergency supply for another time – bad advice, and the surest way to contribute to the emergence of supergerms resistant to all antiobiotics. Now if only I could find a dental office that’s staffed on an emergency basis 24/7 – fat chance in 21st century America, despite all our progress – though something you probably could count on 19th century Deadwood America, judging by the TV series created by and typically written by an ex-drug addict who was once Cleanth Brooks’s – or was it Robert Penn Warren’s? – New Critical protege at Yale, to whose signature brand of elevated Shakespearean obscenity we’ve become addicted ourselves, so long as the dentist was in town.

Posted Sunday, February 26th, 2006 under Uncategorized.


  1. Very interesting and entertaining post. It was enjoyable to read and kept my attention. Keep up the good work.

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