I hate it when you’re enjoying a slice of your favorite pizza with red pepper flakes sprinkled on top and you break off a tooth. It’s one of those things that sometimes you don’t even notice until you’ve already swallowed the broken half of tooth with the sausage, pepperoni, green pepper, onion and mushrooms. In my case, I thought a flake of red pepper had stuck to the side of my tooth.
It felt weird, though. It was too rough feeling along the side of the tooth. The clincher that made me get up for further inspection was when I couldn’t remove what I thought was the red pepper flake. I tried to pick at it with my fingernail, thinking it was a stubborn bugger but I couldn’t get it.
Boy, was I surprised when I looked in the mirror and saw the ugly, jagged space that used to be the half of tooth I had that was no longer there. I was like, “Pizza! I was eating pizza! Judas Priest!”
I wear stronger glasses than ever before so that I can read and work on the computer. My hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, either. Just ask my wife. I try to pay attention and look directly at someone when they’re speaking at me. Still, sometimes things take a bit before they register or I don’t hear it exactly right (here, hear, rear, beer, near and fear all sound eerily alike too much of the time).
So, I am thinking, “This is what it feels like to have issues with your senses of sight, hearing and now taste (by virtue of dental problems).” I am glad my sense of smell has never been that good. People have always been like, “You can’t smell that, Bob?” And I’ve always been like, “Nope. I can’t.” They always sent me in first when there was a biohazard that needed cleaning up in one of the restrooms.
Touch, on the other hand, has always been one of my favorite senses. I can touch people figuratively with my words here and I can touch them in person like when I hold hands with my wife. I am grateful for what remains of my senses in decline but am especially thankful that my sense of touch is still as potent as ever.
I am taking a course on dealing with stress. They asked me early in the course, “What stresses you out?” I thought about it for a while. They gave examples of stress that I didn’t find to be all that stressful. So, I thought about it some more until I felt myself stressing over the things I was supposed to come up with that should stress me out.
As tempted as I was to put this down to complete the assignment, I didn’t. Being a wiseass stresses out the facilitators of workshops that are supposed to help you deal with stress better. If I would have filled out the initial questionnaire for exercise one now, though, I would have put down that breaking teeth off while eating pizza stresses me out.
According to the workshop designers we’re supposed to take responsibility for our stress and deal with it as a challenge. Make a commitment to confront and contend with it. Well, I am. I am going to call the dentist but they’re not in until the morning. There are probably dentists that work at night but I won’t try any of them as I had a bad experience with a night dentist once. She was hopped up on something. I suspect it was toot, blow, coke or nose candy—you choose what to call it. I was single, found her attractive, took a chance and then realized I had made a big mistake after she wiped her nose and asked me to open my mouth.
Needless to say, I ended up being pretty uncomfortable with her touching me. I knew where one of her hands had been (at least very recently). More of my five senses worked better then, but I still appreciated my sense of touch more than anything else. Touch is underrated and underappreciated.
What could we say well about “touch” with respect to something on a headstone? “He touched a lot of things.” “He touched us all in ways we shouldn’t imagine.” “His kiss was electric but his touch was sublime.” “He didn’t smell much but he sure could touch.” “He loved getting lots of touches in every game he played.” “He always washed his hands before touching anything.”
“He once thought he touched a red pepper flake against the side of one of his teeth, but didn’t get too stressed out when he found out it was what remained of a filling inside what was left of a tooth he’d have to pay to have ground down and a crown put on.”
I know some of you are thinking, “Hey Bob, just monitor your no. 2’s to see if the tooth is salvageable.”
As touching as this business about “duty calls” is, all I can say is the thought of all that stresses me out (so it’s not going to happen).