Sunday, October 11, 2015
The velvet fist
I have good teeth, or so my dental people tell me. And though once or twice I have unveiled silly personal vanities on subjects such as blogging here in clerkmanifesto, I don't feel conceited about my teeth. I'm glad not a lot has gone wrong with them, despite what might not conventionally be considered notably good care. I have not suffered. No braces, three total cavities in fifty years, and I still have my wisdom teeth, though in the distant past an occasional dentist tried to have them surgically removed from my head just for fun. I'm generally of the mind that this is down to the luck of the draw. I'm just an innocent bystander, one with good teeth.
But when I go to the dentist there's my hygienist and my dentist waxing rhapsodic. "He's got great gums!", "You're teeth are just looking great!", "Good job! Your teeth are in fantastic shape!" It's a little hard not to get prideful, but it's just my teeth.
Still, I have begun to notice, to my alarm, that my teeth aren't perfect. I am mortal. Things do go wrong. I wouldn't think this from how my dental people talk about my teeth, and I think that makes it all the more crushing. I dread having things go wrong, having to have injections in my gums and assorted drillings and moldings in my mouth. So it is bitter when I am told how perfect and wonderful my teeth are, how rosy they all look, and what a great job I'm doing, to have it followed up by "There's just this one little problem here. You're jaw is rotting and we have to replace the left side of your face."
Okay, it's not that bad. But I'm trying to express the feeling of the matter. It's more like- "You're teeth look great. You have fantastic teeth. Everything looks good." Then there's a pause for me to be relieved, followed by "There's just this one little cavity starting here that we need to take care of."
Because a filling of mine broke, and when I bit down on food it was apparently driving up into my gum, I was at the dentist the other day. So I was thinking about all this. I was at the front desk of my library waiting for the last of the Novocaine to wear off, and I was wondering what it would be like to apply this technique, or maybe just its pattern, to one of the library patrons I was dealing with.
"Good afternoon." The patron says. "I was wondering if you had a copy of In the Name of the Wind?"
"In the Name of the Wind? I love that book. You have great taste! This is easily one of the best fantasy epics ever written. Boy are you in for a treat! It's such a joy when real readers come into the library and ask for such quality items! Of course we have In the Name of the Wind! It's in the SciFi/Fantasy section under Rothfuss, the author's last name."
"Oh, great, thank you." The patron responds.
"Unfortunately all our copies are checked out." I add. Just a minor afterthought. "Shall I request it for you? We can probably get it for you within a month."
But no. I would never do this. It would be too cruel.