The Joker

July 2, 2015 at 10:31 am (My Soreballs Vacation, That's not funny...)

I have been accused of flashing a fake smile at work. I no longer have a choice. Like the Nightclub Store, my fake smile is now 24/7.

Floss or die...

Floss or die…

After months of preparation, cleaning and extracting, the last of my upper teeth were removed and I received dentures. Walton Goggins I ain’t. They got the size right, as well as the shade. (I have a grayish tint to my teeth, the assistant said.) I’m smiling pretty big, but that’s due mostly to drugs. After a brief chat with the dentist, she upped my Vicodin dosage. (“Just take two. The extra-strength pills are out-of-pocket. Insurance covers what you’re taking.”) I was happy about this at first, and grateful by the time we were finished.

I wish Stephen King were here to ghost-write this for me. Horror is his genre, mine is ‘musings of a smartass grocery clerk’. I found Mr King’s horror stories inspirational as a teen and beyond, and loved how he could make me squirm. I hope you channel that feeling as you read this, because there will be squirming.

If by no one other than me, as I remember the tray of sharp objects and the masked women…

Portland, City of Ironies.

Weed becomes legal on a day I’m not supposed to be smoking. That’s why I asked for a later appointment. I could get a few legal puffs in before the big moment. I told Rain about it. “Don’t cry,” she said.

“Shit,” I replied. “I got a bottle of weed water for after, and am guessing there will be drugs…”


“I’m not drinking the water beforehand. That can turn nightmarish.” I also didn’t want anything inhibiting THEIR pain relief system. Not all drug interactions turn out to be amusing adventures. Regardless, I didn’t want to hurt, and I wanted to come out ahead on the prescription narcotics final count.

I arrived ten minutes early, as I had been. I was quickly escorted to the back. “Are you here for a cleaning?”

“Nope, I’m here to lose five teeth and gain a mouthful of dentures.” I could hear receptionist Deb cackling in the background as I went to the back.

"What? No jackhammer?"

“What? No jackhammer?”

She took my vitals. Blood pressure was a bit high, I could feel the anticipation building. I wasn’t scared. It’s like preparing for a rollercoaster ride. You know they have done this thousands of times, and nothing ever happens, but shit always happens when I am there. I planned for that kind of luck. I put on the wraparound shades and mused how much I looked like a mulleted Bono, the way my hair came back over the ears.

“Are you ready?” It was the dentist, I think. Hot girls in scrubs and face masks had been putting things in my mouth, then removing them, for months and I couldn’t identify any of them on the street.

“Nan ath an eber nonna nee.” Her fingers were placing what felt like blunted toothpicks between cheek and gum, to give them working space.

She used compressed air to dry the area, then swabbed some cherry-tasting stuff over my gums. “Okay, you are going to feel a bit of pressure here…”

Like last time, I looked just long enough to see the foot-long syringe heading toward my face. We’re going blind on this one. Take my advice, if you are awake during surgery, don’t look. The visuals will haunt you forever, and shit will hurt, because you KNOW WHAT’S SUPPOSED TO BE HURTING. Ignorance is bliss, sometimes.

She injected here and there, waited a few minutes, came back. “Okay, we’re going to see how you’re doing. Feel that? That?”

Big teethThere were a couple of spots on my canines that still had live nerve endings. “We’ll come back to those.” She left the room, and returned. I was watching in the reflection. She set something down on the desk, and left again.

It was my new set of teeth.

And I’ll be a son of a bitch if I didn’t start crying.

Not a lot, just enough of a puddle-up to be embarrassing if the medical team came in right then. I was so grateful for a chance to eat normally again, to not end up a buck-toothed Goober. I hope to someday thank President Obama in person. I will give him the million-dollar smile, not the fake one.

I got it together just in time. The dynamic duo returned, and it appeared this was SHOWTIME.

“Open wide,” she said. Mouth open, eyes closed. “Okay, this is a big one. I’m sorry…”

Sorry for…? “AAAHHHH!” I groaned. A flash of white light, a cold sweat. I took deep breaths and tried to relax.

“That’s always the worst one.”

I was afraid to look. I KNEW I should have worn a black tee shirt. When she stuck the last needle in, I felt a spurt that hit my chest and arm. Like arterial spray. Was I going to ride the bus home looking I’d been at a crime scene?

I opened my eyes and looked down. It was saliva. I’d inadvertently spit a foot-long string of clearness all over the bib protecting my shirt. I was at once horrified, amused and a little disappointed. If it had been blood, I’d have made a visit to every one of my managers. They forget how rowdy nights can be. It doesn’t hurt them to view a bit of blood once in a while. As it was, my shirt was still pristine.

“Okay, we’re going to give that a little time to kick in, then we’ll be back to start pulling…”

I had about twenty minutes to sit there. Anticipation. Trepidation. I was about bored when they came back.

This time it was for sure. “Okay, here we go.” She had one of them sharp pointy thingies in one hand, and roach clips wrapped in gauze in the other. Following my own advice, I closed my eyes. Let the fun begin.

tooth extractedThe first to go was right in front. I would never again impersonate Bugs Bunny with my natural teeth. Second buck tooth? Minimal resistance, maximum blood. “Suction.” The tiny liquid vacuum cleaner took away the waterboard effect. I’d swallowed enough anesthesia that I could no longer feel my throat. There. I could breathe without gargling.

Then came the last two, my Count Floyd canine incisors. After about five seconds I was waving my left hand frantically, as I was told to do if I felt any sharp pain. It felt like she was going to rip my whole upper jaw off.

“Okay, but we’ve about maxed you out for anesthesia. If we can’t get it now, I will have to bring you back.”

Shit. Another two weeks, with no front teeth and two fangs? Twenty years ago, when I drank, I’d have wanted it that way. “Drunken vampire on the rampage: Film at eleven!” I wanted today to be the day. No more fucking around. Besides I’m the big redheaded tough guy that can take pain, right?

Let’s do it.

“Okay, I’ll take as much as I can.”

“Turn toward me.” She put me in a modified headlock, nestled my head against her lovely tiny breast, and began pulling right and left with the plier/roach clips. It took about five minutes of round and round, back and forth. I’d come to recognize the crackling sound of the roots disengaging, and wondered if they ever broke people’s jaws fighting obstinate teeth? After a small eternity, I felt a pressure release and gauze was being stuffed into the hole.

“Now for the difficult one…”

Oh goody.

It was more of the same, but the anesthesia had had time to kick in, so I took it better. Still, it was no picnic. The white hot pain so intense it felt orgasmic. The deep breaths after riding all that out were almost sexual in nature.

After the last tooth came out, they packed my upper gums with gauze.

“Thank goodness. I hate having to cut them out. Open wide!” The dentist put my lower partial in place. “Don’t bite down! You don’t have anything to bite with.” She put something in the ridge of my upper plate, and slipped it into my mouth. “Welcome to your new smile.”

I almost cried again.

Joker smile 2Nope, no Walton Goggins smile. I texted Festus. “Meet me at the pharmacy.” I’d borrowed pills from him, and wanted to cover that ASAP. (Don’t bite the hand that feeds.) I stopped by to show Southie my smile, and toast the afternoon with Vicodin and weed water. Festus took one look at me and said, “You look just like The Joker!” With my wild red hair, goofy grin and red-rimmed mouth, I didn’t doubt him a bit. I bid downtown adieu and headed for Hawthorne.

I returned home to much Facebook love, an inebriated sister who didn’t notice my new teeth, (“Iss today teeth day?” “No, that was yesterday.” “Oh.”) and a restlessness. I wanted to go places and do things. I WANTED TO EAT SOMETHING. I ended up going to Fred Meyer for yogurt and ice cream. I was horribly disappointed to discover the plate on my dentures covers the upper palate, and I enjoy ice cream the most by melting it there. A note from my cousin explained, “Everyone just says fuck it and takes their teeth out for ice cream. Just don’t do it at the restaurant.”

I was told to keep them in for 24 hours, then remove and rinse. Wear them as much as possible the first 72 hours. Then take them out for eight hours every night. Why can’t I sleep with them? Because 24-hour wear leads to yeast infections of the mouth.

Knowing where my mouth likes to spend its recreational time, we only want yeast in bread-form near my mouth. So it’s off to rinse we go.

Thank you once again, President Barack Obama.


1 Comment

  1. Jeff said,

    Charles, Remember when Dr. Giggles was filmed in Portland? Is it safe yet?

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