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...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )

the toothless fairy

dropped our house guess off this morn – foto by Smith

Got too tired to keep myself together and broke yesterday.

Three days of cleaning for our first stay-over guest followed by nine days daze of energy output, people overload, insufficient sleep and absolutely no downtime recovery time made me so unfocused I could no longer hold my reality together with just my mind and I broke one of my remaining teeth yesterday during Thanksgiving dinner. Fortunately it was one of my too many root-canalled teeth so there’s no pain or feeling.

My teeth are a sorrowful tale.

When fluoride was added to the nation’s drinking water in the 1950s to prevent cavities, we lived on a farm and drank unfluoridated well water. At the same time we were poor and the dentist was only for pain emergencies; periodic check-ups were for those with money.

I figured I could finally get my teeth fixed up when I enlisted in the Navy in 1963; instead they pulled two and promised they’d replace them soon. That was 46 years ago; I’m still waiting.

After the Navy kicked me out for smoking grass in 1968 (with an honorable discharge because they didn’t want the bad publicity of putting me through a court martial and embarrassing the U.S. Naval Academy), I started doing a lot of crystal meth and ground my teeth like all speed freaks do. I have very small teeth anyway, so this didn’t help.

Later on down the line as one tooth after another went bad, I usually had no money to fix them properly so many times they were pulled rather than repaired and crowned. One I did have crowned was so badly done the crown kept falling off. I’d glue it back on my tooth with some extremely foul-tasting 5-minute epoxy, but the mouth saliva would turn the epoxy brown and soft and the cap would fall off 2-3 days later (usually while chewing; I was constantly afraid I was going to swallow my crown or break another tooth on it) and I’d glue it back on again. One dentist told me the soft brown epoxy goo he pulled off my tooth gave him nightmares, dreams where his patients’ teeth turned brown and soft and fell out.

My biggest tooth insult came at the hands of Dr Liesman. I paid him $1,500 for an upper and lower partial. He fucked up the lower and had it sent back, then forced the repaired partial into my mouth. Over the next 6 months the partial caused all my lower teeth to go crooked and overlap.

One night in the midst of a bad run of unemployment when my world was crashing around me and I was in danger of losing my studio, I got hit with bad tooth pain and absolutely zero money. I decided to pull the tooth myself using pliers, but when I grasped the tooth with the metal prongs, it shattered – the insides had rotted away. I sat in bed that night with tears rolling down considering suicide because at least if I killed myself the studio would be paid off and mom would have a place to live. Got through the night and went and asked a rich man to loan me $1,000 to get my tooth fixed and me back on my feet. He stared at me in silence for a long time, then said he was going to loan me the thousand because if he lost it, it wouldn’t affect him any, but he would be extremely disappointed if I didn’t pay it back because he’d hate to lose our weekly visits and conversation. Took the money, fixed the tooth, bought some clothes to interview in, got a job three weeks later, and had him paid off two months after that.

Three weeks ago I learned at the dentist that one of my two upper front teeth is loose because it hasn’t had a tooth next to it for 15 years to support it and finally just got tired and I’ll be losing it eventually.

I have 9 teeth on top, 13 on the bottom. Today the dentist told me the broken tooth is unsaveable so will pull it tomorrow morning. That’ll leave 8 on top. Getting to the point chewing is becoming an adventure, especially since top and bottom teeth rarely mesh.

Pretty soon I’ll have no teeth and can offer my wife a gum job. The kids in the neighborhood can start calling me a toothless bastard.

Being poor affects your whole life – from what health care you get along the way to what and how you eat (i.e., obesity is more prevalent among the poor because they eat cheaper inferior starchier fatter foods).

I tell you, reality lately seems to be testing me, trying to see what it’ll take to knock me down and keep me down. But I doubt that will work, because no matter what, I always eventually pop back up with whatever is left of me and start slogging that cold empty trail to fame and fortune I’ve been unsuccessfully flogging these past 63 years. Guess they’re going to have to kill me to get me to stop (not that that would break my heart – if it weren’t for Lady, I’d rather have been gone by now anyway).

My only two real fears are that I’m slowly losing my sense of humor, and I’m slowly losing my sense of hope. Both define me to me; I wouldn’t be worth much without them. But even that doesn’t really worry me because the humor only gets darker and edgier, while the will always bounces back eventually – and where there’s will, there’s hope.

a face in the crowd – foto by Smith

3 Responses to “the toothless fairy”

  1. jc says:

    Love the fotos, sucks about the teeth.

    I got one pulled in prison, suffered with two more till I got out, married Geri, and (ironically) thanks to her great state prison employee health care plan, got two root canals and some crownage. Got lucky, coulda been worse – losing my teeth has always been a big fear – especially since a lot of my relatives (poor, originally from WV) lost ’em all young.

  2. smith says:

    yes, there’s a social stigma to missing teeth, hillbilly and trailer trash overtones – and yet i spill educated and poetic words from this poor man’s mouth.

  3. Lady says:

    I personally like the gaps. I like your signs of use. I’m serious about this.

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