July 31 sucked. I picked my girlfriend up at 1:30 a.m. Because she worked in downtown Denver, I nearly ran over five or six drunks who staggered off the sidewalk and into the street. Then I got lost west of I-25.
By the time we made it home, the foulest of dispositions had overtaken me. I try hard not to take my mood roulette out on loved ones. I bottle it up. The bottle must have been full, because I reset face first into the floor.
At the emergency room, I noticed that one of my front teeth was loose. After two stitches and a cat scan, I was sent home in an Uber. All of this cost $5,000 that I can’t afford to pay because, in the immortal words of Childish Gambino, this is America.
A surgeon removed the tooth a week later, and I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness when I saw it whisked away on a tray, landfill bound. It had been in my mouth about 30 years. It also hurt, but because some jerk in eastern Ohio had gobbled up the last OxyContin, I was not offered any Schedule II narcotics.
A few weeks later, I received a plastic temporary tooth, a last-ditch effort after two retainer-like “flapper” teeth didn’t fit. I never got used to the temporary tooth. It always felt like it was going to break off and choke me to death. I wasn’t too sad when the surgeon yanked it out to drill in a dental implant.
For six months, I’ve had a conspicuous gap in the front of my mouth after I declined another fake tooth. It’s been what I would call an interesting sociological experiment. Most people don’t bring it up, but I’ve seen many eyes drift stage right while I’m speaking.
The most interesting part of the missing tooth saga happened when a schizophrenic woman who asked me to write about the guy stalking her through the radio in her car angrily called my boss to report me as an imposter. No real reporter would be missing teeth. Ironically, I’m now the one with the implant in my head.
More irony: I’ve smiled more during the past few months than I have my entire life. I was tempted to keep the gap — I’ve been enjoying the anti-social charm it has imparted, a physical sign of my poor attitude and lack of respect for authority. I just smile and let the world know. I looked like Brad Pitt in the “Fight Club” movie poster if Mr. Pitt were 30 pounds overweight.
I might have kept it, but the gap made my mom nearly burst into tears that last time she saw me. A burly police officer I know said it broke his heart to see the photo of me smiling with a full-on black eye. A dentist ratcheted in the crown on Tuesday. It looks nice, but I have to pay my respects to my rakish gap-toothed smile: 2017 to 2018. Rest in peace.