While I was at the dentist for my semi-annual cleaning, the hygienist started scratching my molars with her pick to remove the tea stains and then said, “Your teeth are actually in pretty good shape. They should last you …”
Her sentence trailed off into incoherent mumbling. Did she intend to say, “Your teeth are in pretty good shape, and they should last you … until you pass into the Great Hereafter.” Or “Your teeth are in pretty good shape for a card-carrying member of AARP, and they should last you … until your fourth daughter gets married and you can afford a nice set of dentures.”
You never know when the end will come for yourself or your teeth, but I suspect she was trying to be encouraging in a dental hygienist kind of way and let me know I probably won’t need false teeth in this life, although she could offer no assurances about the next.
Even though I’ve always been fastidious about dental care, I have my share of cavities, probably because I grew up in the backwoods drinking un-fluoridated well water. Plus, I never learned about the importance of flossing until I was 30 and went to a dentist who told me about the excitement I was missing.
Now, I floss and floss and floss some more. It’s sort of a stress-reduction tactic that relaxes me the same way yoga relaxes women and Budweiser puts men to sleep. If I argue with my wife, I turn to floss. If the job gets crazy, I open my desk, pull out my floss and head for the men’s room for some covert dental hygiene. I’m convinced it lowers my blood pressure and my cholesterol. In fact, when I went for my annual physical, the doctor looked at my EKG and exclaimed, “This looks great! Keep flossing!”
“I also use a Waterpik,” I said.
“I can see the benefits,” he replied. “Your hair is even coming back.”Despite the optimism, I have two gold crowns from when I cracked teeth by biting into olives that weren’t supposed to have pits. If I ever need another crown, I’ll look like one of the Sopranos or those rappers with gold grills.
We want to believe we’ll last forever, but body parts break down as we age. Unfortunately, the media perpetuate the fantasy that we don’t have to grow old. Every time Christie Brinkley has a birthday closer to 65, they publish pictures of her in a bikini with headlines proclaiming, “Christie still looks 35!” Her toothy smile is a killer, but I wonder whether those are real teeth or dentures.
Celebrities only contribute to the canard that perpetual youth is possible, or as Bob Dylan would say, “May you stay forever young” … although he certainly hasn’t.
If the ads are true, a guy can stay forever young with a shot of testosterone and some of those miracle supplements that promise to keep men chugging along.
“Feel like the man you used to be,” one commercial says, as a distraught wife confides that when her husband hit his 40s, he started going downhill in ways I won’t describe in a family newspaper but which you’ve probably heard about from Jerry Springer, Dr. Phil and Dr. Ruth.
On the commuter train, there’s a poster with pictures of guys of different races, creeds and ages who suffer from the same malady — low sex drive — which the ad claims can be cured by a miracle product that promises to restore vim and vigor, to use a popular 1970s phrase.
“Feel like the man you used to be!” The man I used to be? I want to feel like the man I WANT to be, and I don’t think pills, supplements, testosterone, injections or cold baths are the solution.
Men of America, I ask you: Who did we used to be? Who are we? Who do we want to be? I’ll share the secret to a long, healthy, love-filled life. Flossing! Four times a day. Just ask Christie.
All is not lost. A survey by the Marist Poll said 58% of Americans consider 66 to be middle-age, which leads me to believe Baby Boomers are suffering a serious delusion … or I have several decades before I hit old age. So pass me a cold one, a pair of running shoes and my floss. And save the testosterone for the next guy.
You may contact Joe Pisani at firstname.lastname@example.org