It was Friday night, the vanguard of Memorial Day Weekend. It was hot—lemonade hot. Newspaper-flapping hot. The kind of hot that inspires people to forget about hygiene and dive head first into nasty public pools and beaches, desperate for relief. The kind of hot that leaves people heavy and slow to laugh, like a snake after a kill. A midsummer hot, a July hot, the kind of hot that makes me imagine what it will be like when I go to a museum with my child to visit snow.
My roommates, like most of New York City, had fled, seeking out a more pastoral setting for their long weekend, respite from the pungent pizza and garbage smell of New York in summer. Greg and I were looking forward to an empty house, with periodic visits from friends and much intense grilling.
We spent a quiet Friday night at home, and here I was now, flossing, diligently working the space between my second and third molars on the right side. This, my widest space, often stores large offerings from past meals in strings and chunks, so I took extra pains, as I always do, to insure that the gap was free and clear of debris. But I must been expecially enthusiastic that night, because on its final swoop through the space, my floss discharged a sizable nugget—it was hard and sharp and heavy enough to knock against the sink with a “ping” and plummet towards the bathmat with gravitas.
I retrieved the hunk of stuff from the mat and held it up to the light. It was immediately apparent, even to my untrained eye, that what I beheld was a large piece of my own tooth, white-esque and jagged, with a hollow and unmistakably brown interior. I studied it for a moment, with a kind of scientific curiosity, then burst into tears.
An hour later found my poor boyfriend failing to comfort me as I grieved the loss of my tooth, the onset of tooth decay and my failure to heed the dire warnings so prominently displayed on posters in the dental offices of my youth.
“My teeth are rotting out of my mouth!” I wailed.
“There there,” said Greg, patting my fetal-curved back.
“I'm like a hillbilly! I am an Appalachian!” I moaned. (I do apologize to any Appalachian readers. In moments of intense anguish, we can often be insensitive and xenophobic.)
The next day was Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, and I had to find emergency dental care…
To be continued…