Monday, May 14, 2007

Today, I was toothless in Taylor

When I was a kid, I always had to be different than everyone else. Among other things, I determined to ride a unicycle because, I figured, riding a bicycle was too ordinary. On a hot summer afternoon, that unicycle cost me a tooth, and my cool. And it cost me today, too.

I was about 12-years-old when I started working for my grandfather's building maintenance business, and I took pride in purchasing things for myself, instead of burdening my mom with all of my wants. That summer, I purchased a one-wheeled cycle.

The accident — one in a few cycle accidents I'd suffer as a teen – happened all too quickly. I mounted the unicycle using the aluminum training poles that came with it. I was a star unicyclist as long as I remained stationary. But when I began to pedal forward, I fell flat on my face. The fall came so fast and hard, my hands didn't have time to break my fall. My mouth broke it instead.

I lay there in our driveway, blood dripping from my mouth, but I didn't feel a thing, at least not immediately. I sat up, looked around, hoping no one had witnessed what happened. Then I darted inside to access the damage in a mirror. My front tooth, before it broke off, had cut a hole in my upper lip, piercing the skin on the other side. My bottom lip, spared from harm, had shoveled up a mouthful of dirt and rocks. I cupped my hands and spit my bloody tooth and rocks into them. The stub of my half-broken tooth felt sharp as I strummed my tongue back and forth over my teeth.

Thank God I fell forward because had I fallen backward, I'd have cracked my skull.

I've never been much of a crier, so I didn't lose a tear — though I wanted to. Not because of how bad my mouth hurt, but because of how bad I looked. By the time I'd gotten hold of my mom, my upper lip — or what was left of it — had swollen to the size of a golf ball. My face was bloody, but I didn't want to touch it. Something else, damaged from the fall, might break off, too.

I don't remember the details of my visit to the dental clinic that afternoon, but when I left the office, I wore a gold crown over my tooth. This all happened back in the day, before gold teeth — or grillz – were in style. My gold tooth wasn't cool.

Every five years, or so, the crown falls off. Eventually, I had the gold crown replaced with a white one. Later, I had the crown replaced with a veneer. I thought the veneer would be permanent. Not!

Today, during the last 10 minutes of a full-day school visit at Taylor Middle School, my veneer fell out. It happened while I was up, front and center, with 50 to 60 sixth-graders looking on. I was sketching a cartoon. As I sketched, I talked. Then suddenly, the tooth was gone. I started talking funny. Whistling when I pronounced an “S” word. Seemed more like a music demonstration than a drawing one.

Though the situation was embarrassing, I remained calm. My hands continued to sketch, but my tongue was on a mission to find that tooth, wrap it inside the wad of gum I was chewing, and tuck it away safely underneath my tongue. I couldn't just stop drawing and pluck a gum-wrapped tooth from under my tongue. Can you imagine what they'd tell their parents: "An old geezer of an artist visited our school, today, and his teeth started falling out."

My dentist can't get me in until Thursday. Don't think I haven't considered Elmer's Glue.


cloudscome said...

FOFLMAO That is hilarious! You could have just told them the unicycle story and they would have been so impressed! They would never forget you for sure.

Liz in Ink said...

OK, I shouldn't be crackin' up, but I am. It would be right then, wouldn't it? I mean, not when you're alone in your car singing old Journey songs or something.

Both my youngest daughter and I have tooth-related traumas -- I'll fill her in on your tale.

Hang in there...

ShellyP said...

Sounds like you handled it well.

Anonymous said...

my son has a cap that fell out.. I had considered using one of the denture adhesive creams.. maybe that could help..

good for you--keeping your cool.

Travis said...

Thank God that despite of what happened with you, you are safe. It's just kinda sad because you lost your tooth. Like you, my son experienced a minor bike accident recently and unfortunately, he lost his tooth. He really felt ashamed of what happened so we went to our family dentist in Columbia, SC and asked for some ways to replace hi lost tooth and our dentist (West Columbia) gave my son great dental procedure and now, my son can smile all day long.