View From My Apartment 8
My apologies. It’s been sometime since I have written. It’s because. Well. I didn’t want to admit something.
You see. For almost a year now, I have been harboring a secret. A secret that…well…a secret that is too heavy for me to carry as a secret any longer. This secret is a burden and a half.
I’m not all real.
That’s my secret. I am not a totally real human. Some of my parts are fake. That’s right. Fake. I am slightly more machine than man than I was when I was born. Oh. True. I don’t have that cybernetic arm that I’m hoping to get someday. It is something much more insidious than that. With a cybernetic arm, that would be clear, that would be obvious. You would know that I would have the ability to pick up a car and hack into your computer, entering into the digital world.
I have a fake tooth. Well. I WILL have a fake tooth. For the moment, I have a retainer like thing with a fake tooth hanging off of it, designed and determined to fool you, the casual viewer.
Last winter I was eating some Indian food my wife had brought me. I was chewing on some Tandoori chicken, as I am wont to do, when it happened. I bit into a bone. It seems part of the preparation of Tandoori chicken is taking the bird apart with a saw..a table saw, or, perhaps, just a handsaw. So. I bit into a bone. And it hurt. A lot. It was the left incisor, you know, the lame Dracula like tooth, the one you use to tear flesh from the bone, and not bite into the bone? That one.
Well. It started to wiggle. Oh, man, I thought. This sucks. It wiggled and it wiggled. I was going back to Illinois to see my parents and I already had plans to see the dentist I had been going to for many many years. How many? I don’t know. That many.
So, for a few weeks, the damn thing wiggled and I kept biting into things with it. I cursed my name to the high heavens, yet, nothing happened. The tooth wiggled and I kept biting into things. It was a vicious circle.
Finally, I arrived at the dentist.
So, here’s another dark secret. I still have baby teeth. Perhaps that isn’t a surprise to some, but, it..s true. Behind my baby teeth there was nothing…no adult tooth to replace it. These babies in my mouth are the original things, in there since…well, I don’t know since when, that’s how long.
And it turns out that the tooth that bit into the Tandoori chicken was one of these lucky ones to have survived 30 years, one of the last ones to hold on desperately.
The dentist looked, he poked, he x-rayed and he sighed. It had to come out, he said. There was only 3 millimeters of root holding it in and it was never going to take hold again. The only real option was to take it out.
I was surprised at my reaction. I don’t think my wife was, but, I was. I was upset. I didn’t cry or anything, but it felt like someone had just punched me in the chest. My tooth had to come out. I had never had a tooth taken out. Well, ok. When they FELL out, but even then, I didn’t pull them out, I let them stay as long as they liked, holding on by the merest of flesh. No string and door for me.
It’s a body part, you know. And this one, THIS one had stayed around. It liked being in my mouth. And now…I had to part with it. All of a sudden, I felt like I was falling a part. My knees starting hurting, my hair turned white and fell out, and I had an overwhelming need to sit outside in the summer with a blanket on my lap.
The tooth was pulled with out much fuss, but a lovely amount of laughing gas. Which is funny, I don’t remember laughing as the oral surgeon approached me with pliers. He gripped the tooth and pulled. Didn’t feel a thing. It’s just a very weird visual. And then…
And then comes the cybernetic parts. Alright. Not REALLY cybernetic. It doesn’t do anything. The implant. But, it sounds very sci-fi. Me and my implant. It’s basically a metal plug in which, at a later date, they will screw in a fake tooth. A fake tooth, I hope, is made from some sci-fi metal which will allow me to tear through steel.
Of course, from the removal of the tooth until the new super tooth, I had to heal for eight months. In the meantime, I had to wear a retainer with a plastic tooth attached with the cute name of ..flipper… Because, as the dental assistants tell me, patients flip them in and out. Cute.
I suddenly went from being old and my body falling apart to being 13 again and wanting no one to look at me or my mouth. And suddenly, I had to learn how to talk clearly all over again. Nothing screams success like a retainer lisp!
But, I’m now nearing the end of the tooth journey. Soon, I’ll be able to lay down the retainer, and pick up the new tooth. Which, sadly, will not be super and I should probably NOT try to tear through steel.
The eight months have been interesting. At the beginning, I never left the house without the flipper in my mouth. Never. I would turn back if I forgot it. But, then. Eventually, I started leaving flipper free. I was…nervous about how I looked. Without a tooth. What did people say? Is that girl crying because of me?
No. She wasn’t. It’s New York City. There are a lot better things to cry about.
The new tooth is going to be put in just after Thanksgiving. It should take an hour of screwing, literally, and probably glue. And then, I’ll have a brand new smile. No more plastic, no more retainer lisp.
And it’s kind of a weird feeling. I’m thrilled that I don’t have the retainer anymore, which I have to keep in a glass of water at night..yeah, with the little fizzy things. How cool am I? It’s going to be gone soon and I’ll have a tooth that isn’t original, that is totally man-made, by some person in a lab who makes teeth. Teeth. TEETH!
In the end, it’s totally unnecessary. I don’t need that tooth to eat. Or smile. Or breathe. Or…whatever. But getting the fake tooth will make me feel more complete. Even if it’s an illusion, it will be like I have all of my parts. After a while, I will forget about the tooth being fake. It will be there, like all of the rest.
And maybe that’s what we do as we start to age, and we aren’t ready for it. We try and replace what we have lost, or cover what may be growing (!). I go back and forth whether I’m ready for my future self. Some days, I’m all bring it on! Give me my soft belly! My thinning hair! My stiff joints! But many days, I want to say: I can eat ANYTHING! I can put my legs behind my head! I don’t need to sleep!
It’s inevitable, however. It’s a law of the Universe, its Thermodynamics. Every system slides towards Chaos. I’m just not sure how to do it gracefully…