Toothbrushing, am I right? Who thought of that bullshit? “Hey everyone, let’s scrape hard plastic bristles against our tender pink gums! Poke around in our mouth crevices with teeny tiny spikes! And stinging peppermint disinfectant!!” Sure, the scrubbing may feel good at first. Until you see the blood. In your spit (what the HELL’s it doing there??) In the sink (DITTO!!) All of a sudden brushing seems barbaric, aggressive, violent. Like an unholy congress with a crafty porcupine, jabbing its spines under your gumline like it’s trying to knit a sweater from the leftover spinach stuck there since lunch.
Alright, I concede that I might be exaggerating juuuuust a tetch. It’s just that brushing my teeth has always been one of my least favorite rituals. (That said, I’d like to take the opportunity to reassure anyone reading this that I DO IT REGULARLY, AND WITH VIGOR.)
So before you judge me, and forward me all sorts of links to dental urban legends about “flossing”, hear me out. This morning was different.
This morning I enjoyed the saucy tickle of a new toothbrush that changed my life: so soft, it might as well have been made of chinchilla. Like a minty nuzzle from the Doublemint Twins, it felt like America. Sunshine. Warm laundry. I damn nearly danced out of the bathroom, ready for anything.
Yeah, that’s right: I keep my expectations low. Goal for the day = plaque-free teeth? DONE! What else ya got for me, Universe?? I may be a disappointment to myself, others, and all those who came before me, but I will no longer be held back by the Scylla and Charybdis of diamond-hard bristles and razor-sharp floss. EVERYTHING WILL BE BETTER FROM NOW ON!
Dissolve to: A tree-lined street on a Hollywood backlot. Cue jaunty horns!
I high-step along the street like I’m in a musical with Judy Garland from the 40s. She’s dressed as a friendly Technicolor wino. Judy smells great: a heady mix of Thunderbird and that mush-in-a-bowl the Hare Krishnas give out on Avenue A. She’s missing some teeth but hey – it’s charming, like she lost ‘em playing dice with Mickey Mouse instead of knocked out in a brawl with her dealer over two dollars. We fall into step together and grin, thumbs hooked into our suspenders and faces lifted to the sun. A syncopated bass line plays and we tip our faded, fraying hats to a campy extra who will go on to own an Arthur Murray franchise, then design orthopedic inserts for retired dancers. Our smiles widen, and we break into a song about the three precious teeth we got between us – they bring us luck and we ain’t never lettin’ ‘em go! Never mind the teeth we lost – that’s all in the past and THIS IS SHOWBIZ! Our dental hygiene routine involves a rag, some Old Granddad, and JAZZ.
Seriously though – Celebrities in the ‘40s had the right idea:
- Maintain your dental health through booze (WIN!)
- Turn tooth loss into a hilarious comedy chestnut
- Spend your sunset years hawking denture cream
Truly, it is the American Comedy Dream. And I am living it.