OK, it’s official. I’m never going to the dentist again—ever! No matter how much brushing and flossing I do, I consistently leave feeling like a complete failure. Somehow, the verdict is always that I need to floss more. However, the only way I could possibly do that is if I flossed in public while at church or while in the checkout line at Target. During every visit, the dental hygienist makes it seem as though I’m intentionally neglecting my teeth, and I should be taken out back and flogged repeatedly. If you let her tell it, you would think that my teeth were about to leap right out of my mouth at any given moment and make a run for the border where they’ll find someone who’ll take better care of them. I haven’t felt that much shame since my parents last pulled out that check list of their hopes and dreams for me and compared it to who I turned out to be. Not a single check mark. Not even one.
What I don’t think the dental office staff understands is that I’m a human being with real feelings and emotions. If you cut me, will I not bleed? If you poke me, will I not laugh? If you flip the switch in the center of my back, will I not turn off? That noted, I will never be able to floss my own teeth with the same force and determination as the hygienist does it. There is just no way. I mean, sometimes they are wiggling that string back and forth with enough intensity to make me think the floss will actually slice right through my gum and split my head in two before they realize they’re doing it just a tad bit too hard.
In my opinion, they should really have some form of safe word or something so that we could let them know when the pain is just too much to bear because all the blood, tears, and screams don’t seem to be working. Actually, you would think that my ripping the arm off the dentist chair that one time would have given them some form of hint, but nope. They just pried it from my hand and kept right on sawing away at my poor defenseless gums. So, in order to keep the peace and to not be charged for destruction of property for damaging another dental chair, I’ve decided that either they’re going to have to put me to sleep during my next cleaning, or I’m just not going to show up. I mean, who needs teeth anyway? They are so overrated. If we need our food cut up, that’s what we have knives for.
To add insult to injury, after having to be revived due to all of the blood lost during my last cleaning, the hygienist had the nerve to tell me that I’d need to cut down on my soda consumption. Apparently, having five or six Cokes a day is too much. She might as well have just lopped off my right arm and let it fall to the floor so it could flop around the room for a while. If you ask me, that would have certainly been more reasonable. And just when I was getting use to the idea of having to drink water—yuck—she attacked my sacred place: she told me to cut back on coffee due to the sugar content. Out of reflex, my left hand reached out to strike her in self-defense. Fortunately for her—and for my lawyer who is busy working on all my other pending cases—I missed. So, it’s not so much that I don’t want to go to the dentist, it’s really that I’ve been banned nationwide until further notice, and I have to remain at least 50 feet away from all dental offices and their employees for the time being. Fine with me.
And before I forget, the other day I was minding my own business at the pool when I struck up a conversation with two of my female neighbors. There I stood in just my trunks, legs still peeling from the sunburn fiasco of two weeks ago, when one of the ladies asked if I was single. I panicked because I knew where the conversation was going. I was about to be set up on a blind date. According to them, I have a nice temperament and my bird chest didn’t make them want to barf or anything. Of course, I declined, but I couldn’t have been prouder of myself for still being marketable. That’s right, I’ve still got it. For the rest of the day, I sucked in my stomach and poked out my chest just that much more. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any other offers. Actually, I’m lying because there was a dog that kind of took to me as I strolled back to my apartment. However, I told him that it just wasn’t going to work out no matter how much he humped my leg or sniffed my butt. I’m just not that type of guy.
And on a serious note . . .
On Tuesday, August 2nd, the 1997 graduating class of Northumberland High School, of which I am a part, lost our second classmate, Calvin Rudolph Redmond, who drowned while trying to help a friend who had fallen into rapidly moving water while crabbing in our home town. Honestly, I hadn’t seen or spoken to Calvin in the 14 years since we graduated—wow, 14 years. In any case, Calvin was the epitome of everything that I wasn’t in high school. He was cool. He was a jock. He played football and basketball. He was voted best looking, etc., etc., etc. Me, on the other hand, I wasn’t voted best anything. I was quiet. I didn’t play any sports. And if people knew who I was, it wasn’t for a good reason. In fact, until my senior year, I was that weird guy who ate lunch by himself and wore his father’s jacket in 90-degree weather because it made him feel secure. Yes, I was that guy.
During my senior year, I had a photography/ceramics class with Calvin. For some reason, our teacher had assigned seats, and I was seated at the same table with Calvin and another jock, named Kenny, who was just as popular as Calvin was. Had I been given the choice, due to my insecurity at the time, I probably would have chosen any other table but theirs. In fact, the supply closet would have been preferable to my sitting there with them two. Before even knowing them, I’d already prejudged and decided that it was going to be a bad experience. I just knew it.
Despite our differences and my preconceived ideas, both Calvin and Kenny turned out to be some of the coolest guys I’d met throughout high school. We talked. We laughed. They called me Roach. For once, I was one of the guys and not just some outsider. At no point did I feel different or lesser because I wasn’t athletically inclined or good with the females. Never. That year I made two true friends, and although I do keep in touch with Kenny every now and then, I lost touch with Calvin and I regret it terribly. What those guys did for me by accepting me for who I was at the time helped me to continue breaking out of my shell and to eventually become the person I believe I was meant to be all along. Although I’m a writer, I can’t even put into words the impact they had on my life by simply just being awesome individuals.
I will miss Calvin dearly, and I will always regret my not trying to keep the lines of communication open. Calvin was so loved that his funeral was held at the high school on Saturday, August 6th, in order to accommodate the number of people who attended. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one Calvin touched throughout his 32 years of life. I mention all of this in hopes that you, my readers, will use my experience as a motivating factor for you to take advantage of today because tomorrow isn’t promised. Tell people how you feel—as long as it’s positive and constructive. Let people know that you love and appreciate them while they are here. And if someone touches you in a special way and helps you to grow as a person, have the courage to do what I didn’t do with Calvin and let them know.
Rest in peace, Calvin Redmond. No one truly knows what happens in death, but I’d like to think that you know how much you meant to me as a person. It gives me a little bit of closure to think that maybe you were the reason there were so many rainbows in the sky yesterday.
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