Friday, July 22, 2011

Toothsome Prospects?

Oh, dear. I think I am writing what I know. Or, worse, writing what I want the reader to know. About me.

Since February, I have been consumed with dentists and dental appointments, trying to fix a slew of problems that are so expensive, I've been avoiding them as much as possible.
But, when push eventually shoves you, it becomes a matter of painful necessity.

And so, I've been a dutiful patient, trying my best to open wide and let the various experts fiddle, inject, drill, x-ray, chide, cluck, threaten root canals, suggest implants (oh,sure...anyone have about five thousand dollars per tooth handy? -- my email is listed), and generally fix my teeth -- again. Soon, my mouth will contain more crowns than a box of checkers. I only hope they won't be black or red. But, whatever shade, you can't bleach crowns. Once they're done, they're done.

I guess I've always been fascinated by teeth. I know I've read much about them -- evil and chipped, pearly and porn-ish in all manner of books throughout my life, as far back as Little Red Riding Hood. Thinking I might unearth a few gems to apply here, I conducted a light search -- emphasis on light -- and came up with next to nothing. Mostly, quotes about taking bites out of life, sinking teeth into bottom lines, bites in the ass -- not even an al dente description in the bunch.

I was rewarded with the following, however:

My fictitious characters will take the bit between their teeth and gallop off and do something that I hadn't counted on. However, I always insist on dragging them back to the straight and narrow.
Colleen McCullough

My mouth is full of decayed teeth and my soul of decayed ambitions.
James Joyce

Writers, like teeth, are divided into incisors and grinders.
Walter Bagehot

Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay.
Flannery O'Connor 

Well, it's something. Writers do talk teeth.

As to my initial lament, I've paid lot of attention to the humble tooth in my novel. Inadvertently? Absolutely. The recognition penny only dropped yesterday.

He never knew this because his was a walk-on part in her play; it was, however, a pivotal role that set off an unexpected chain of events the way a spoon of Breakstone’s cottage cheese sent her running for root canal. Her endodontist  said that a hair-line fracture could live undetected above or below the gum line for years until one day –  when you least expected it – bam.

And here:
She flashed a smile and peeled off her gloves. Her teeth were large and even – except for a pointy cuspid on the lower jaw which was crooked and crowding its neighbour. Lydia called it ‘The Ripper’ –  the infamous devourer of Porterhouse steaks, feared by herds of Black Angus the world over, and wanted in all five boroughs, especially Brooklyn, at Peter Luger’s Steakhouse.

I am fine with this, I think. I do wonder if I'd have written the same things without those dental visits. Probably. I always enjoy looking at Melanie Mayron's grin. She played Melissa Steadman in 'Thirtysomething' - all teeth (crooked and otherwise) and heart. I even remember her as Sandy in 'Rhoda'.

Maybe it's Melanie I'm channeling. I hope so. I have an appointment with a gynecologist coming up soon....


  1. I love this one:
    "Writers, like teeth, are divided into incisors and grinders."
    Walter Bagehot

    Wonderful image--and true. Somedays we use one or the other of our "writing" dentition. Though I'll admit to needing to fast today.

  2. Dear Zan Marie,
    I like the quote,too.
    I also see that more than one writer is consumed with decaying teeth, and considering the pain that causes I understand why. (s)

    Fasting? Hope it's for a good reason....

  3. Love that line about the Ripper. And I hadn't come across that Joyce quote before. Gave me the shivers.

  4. Dear Deniz,

    I don't wonder that Joyce might have employed such dramatic examples to describe the writing process. Irish hearts do not hold back much. (s)
    Glad you like The Ripper. (s)

  5. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Great job.
    dental implants manhattan

    1. Dear Tahera,

      Glad you enjoyed the read -- a big thank you for stopping by!