Finally. A purely ridiculous event to share with you.
If you happen to follow my posts on Instagram, you know that I was away for a month in my beloved Provincetown–the very outermost tip of Cape Cod, home to artists, writers, fishing fleets, and lovers of wild moors, dunes and sea. I go there to work by myself a couple of times a year. This time my project was to take care of the revisions I’d received from my editor on The Language of Kin, publishing July 11. I thought those would take about half the time and I’d be able to go back to work on the next manuscript. Wrong. (Who knew I’d inserted so many errors into my nice “clean” manuscript? Or that I’d have so much opportunity to say, “Oh, she’s right…that’s actually not so clear.” Etc.)
But it was moving along. I was going through the manuscript a third time, still finding things I wasn’t fully satisfied with when it happened, and, at the moment, I wasn’t even biting into some thick sticky sandwich, in which case it would have maybe made sense. No, I was righteously eating a green salad while working at my laptop. Wouldn’t you think I’d have gotten some cosmic points for that? Apparently not. Suddenly, I was chewing a pebble. I found it with my tongue, pulled it out, and stared at it.
No way. I’d broken a tooth? Oh my god. A whole tooth? My tongue did a frantic search of my mouth. No! Sure that my tongue was lying or just really disoriented, I raced to the bathroom mirror.
No! No! Please no!
I’d hardly remembered that front tooth tooth was a crown. Well, formerly a crown, now a sort of oblong small white pebble in my hand. Frantic, I started calling my Provincetown friends. Who went to what dentist? “What? You go to Boston?” I don’t have a car, and that’s over two hours away. Three different friends had the same local dentist–just retired. The one other in-town dentist’s receptionist said, “No new patients including emergencies,” and did not respond to begging or pleading. A new dentist was opening in Provincetown, though, the next week. A kind and warm and helpful manager offered an appointment for the first day they’d have their town permit. He had one question for me: do you have the crown that came off? Me: Yes! absolutely. Manager: Great. Simple. Go up to the pharmacy and buy some temporary dental cement. Stick it back on and Dr. McDermott will fix it up reliably, like permanently, next week when you come in. I had a new best friend.
To go out in public (walk to pharmacy and buy cement) I practiced talking without lisping while keeping my lips partly closed. I was terrible at both. Smiling was out of the question. Bet you’d love to see a picture, right? Not a chance.
Then I had one of my dangerously brilliant ideas. Before I go buy the cement, I should figure out how this thing fits on and practice, so I don’t put the cement on it and then have the stuff dry while I mess up getting the tooth on. Makes sense, right? Of course. So I did that.
It was a bitch to get on. I figured out the front from the back after hopelessly confusing myself with a magnifying mirror, but then getting it on was really really hard. Finally, yes! It looked exactly the way it had before. Okay! It fit so tightly that my tongue couldn’t dislodge it, and I talked (out loud to myself, the rantings of a lunatic) and it was fine. Tried to wiggle it. Didn’t budge an iota. Tried to get it off, and I couldn’t. I wondered if I even needed cement, but decided I had to be safe.
So, the obvious thing to do was to walk up to the store, buy the cement, come home, somehow get the thing off, and temporarily cement it back until the local dentist had at it. I went out the back door of my second floor apartment. Bruce, the maintenance man was just riding his bike down the gravel driveway at the same time, and my dear friend and next door neighbor, Donna, was leaving her apartment–across the driveway–on her way to her studio. I went down the first step of the external spiral staircase and called hi to both of them. Big mistake.
Out pops my tooth. Dumbfounded, I watch it fly down to the two-inch thick gravel driveway, bounce lightly once in front of Donna and Bruce, and rise to execute a swan dive into the pebbles. Donna, the person I’d called first to find a dentist, realizes exactly what had happened and starts yelling, “Her tooth, her tooth!” while Bruce thinks we’ve seriously lost our minds as I’m suddenly flying down the stairs yelling, “Don’t move, ith down by the thairs!” A minute later, three of us are on our hands and knees, moving gravel stone by stone. Nothing. Bruce sets up search grids with sticks, and I resort to reenacting the tooth dive from the top of the stairs by spitting tiny pebbles out of my mouth one at a time, but no pebbles care enough about my distress to land in vaguely consistent areas. My downstairs neighbor comes walking down the drive with her dog. Then there are four of us sprawled out moving gravel. I climb the stairs to spit out more tiny white pebbles. You probably never knew how many little pieces of gravel are dead ringers for a tooth, did you? You don’t want to.
Yes, we spent a whole lot of time looking. No, never did find it. Yes, tried every day, and no, it doesn’t work to fashion your own temporary crown out of gum. Yes, days later, the kind Provincetown dentist made me a temporary one I managed not to wreck until I was back home and my regular dentist made a new permanent one. (Yes. $$$)
Finally, I’m lucky and I’m very grateful. Way way worse things that can’t be fixed happen all the time. Those people need our care, right? I’m telling you about this so you can laugh with me, and be grateful that we still have things to laugh about.
Thanks so much for reading. Does anyone out there have an episode that was ridiculous or embarrassing you’re willing to share in the comments? Long-time ago or recent, doesn’t matter!