Just before Independence Day, I got a toothache. I was not sure that the sensation was best described as an ache: my jaw locked up and I could not open wide enough to bite a sandwich. When I was younger I would frequently bang on my jaw to unlock(more) it, but this felt different, and cursed as I am with falling ill while traveling, I took myself to the dentist to see if I needed treatment.
He sat me down, looked in my mouth and shrugged. He could not see anything, but since he had me he was going to take something. He wanted my wisdom teeth. I tried to delay, asked how long it would be: 15 minutes. A half hour later, giddy from a conversation about the history of nitrous oxide and statistics on automobile and motorcycle safety, I exited with a mouth full of gauze and a little bag containing two teeth.
The next day we went to a very small parade and I ate a hotdog with the front of my mouth. I gathered red currants in a ziplock bag and put them in the trunk. At the supermarket I bought prewashed cabbage and delivered it apologetically to a friend who was hosting dinner: it looked tired, as though it were hardly cabbage at all, but it was the Fourth of July and I was missing teeth and I'd already had a beer. The cabbage would have gone limp under the dressing anyhow.
My mouth healed quickly, my excuse outlasted my discomfort. But my tongue was lonely, felt as in a foreign city, expecting to see the store on the corner but finding the store and the corner both gone. I am reminded of postpartum phantom kicks of babies that don't exist, once known. (less)
i have a pipe but i don't smoke it
don't have anything smokeable
have some oregano
can't smoke oregano
and i have a lot of books
lots and lots of books
(more) over 300 books
i don't really want to smoke those either(less)