Monday, August 13, 2012
Do teeth in your pocket count as yours?
I recent encounter with The Dad was disarming to say the least. I was cooking his requested “country” food and took him a small bowl for taste-testing purposes. He usually tells me I need to add salt and pepper and, even though I never add the salt as he has high blood pressure, I always tell him I do and he deems it “just right” upon the second taste test. The dish tonight was shrimp stir fry. What? China is a country. Anyway, when I took him his little bowl, he had to get his teeth out of his shirt pocket to take a bite. I was so taken aback that I simply stood there, trying to process that information. Besides the fact that he had them out of his mouth, they were sharing the overly stretched confines of his shirt pocket with his glasses, phone and a crochet needle.
As someone who has spent a small fortune on dental care in recent years, I am hyperaware of both my and other’s teeth. You could have purchased a car with what I have paid for dental surgery. Not a new car, mind you, but at least a mid-90s Buick LeSabre; definitely more than you need to spend to have an award-winning smile, as if there are awards for that sort of thing. Even if there were, I wouldn’t be winning any as the small space between my front teeth is not sexy like Lauren Hutton; it’s simply a space. A small imperfection in an otherwise normal face, if normal is what you call someone whose eyes are so small there is an assumption of a heritage that is indirectly Asian.
I’ve always heard that you can tell someone’s fiscal health based on their hair, teeth or shoes. Having had my hair snipped in both hoity-toity salons and chains like Super Clips, I can tell you there is scant difference between the two (for men, at least) other than you won’t get a hot towel facial at a Super Clips unless your stylist dumps her latte on your head because she is texting/drinking whilst she cuts. There are texting dangers outside of driving, people. Where’s the advocacy there?
And I definitely have excellent shoes. It’s amazing what you can fit your former canned ham of a foot into when it shrinks right along with your waistline. Yay me and my Johnston and Murphy loving self.
As someone who did not receive regular dental checkups as a child, due to the lack of dental insurance, I can attest to the fact that poor dental care is a factor of poverty that is difficult to overcome; hence my over-priced but still not award-winning smile. And that is ok. I am single-handedly funding my dentist’s daughter’s year abroad and I know she would be grateful were she aware. And I’m glad to help someone go to Europe, although if I had my druthers it would be me or at least someone who would share photos.
But, back to the teeth in the shirt conundrum. What does one say to one’s parent who has just (1) retrieved their teeth and (2) from the confines of any location other than their mouth? How does one tiptoe past that? Does one address it? Does one ignore it? Does one blog about it? Apparently, yes to the last question. And I don’t say this to malign The Dad; he is who he is. But it’s one of the starkest differences betwixt us. When I was discussing my upcoming dental surgery and told him the cost he was as taken aback as I was when he asked his home health aide if she’d ever heard a gnat fart. When I added how much I had already spent, he informed me that I “coulda had all them teeth pulled and got (you) some false teeth and then used all that leftover money to buy me a Harley”.
And I thought about it; not the Harley part but the pulling teeth and saving money part and I realized that I truly in my heart of hearts wanted to have the teeth with which I was born, still in my head and not in my pocket. I don’t carry change in my pants pocket as it breaks the line of my trouser. Why on earth would I want to put teeth there? I don’t put my phone in my shirt pocket as it skews the drape of the shirt and makes me look messy. Why on earth would I place teeth there? I don’t want my teeth anywhere heretofore considered unseemly unless it’s biting into a Susie Cakes cupcake or a corndog at the fair, do you hear me?
Now I don’t know the reasons behind his false teeth but I do know that his health has been an issue for quite some time. In all honesty, based on his diet and his lack of exercise since he hurt his back at work in 1989, I am surprised he is still with us. The man has had eight, count them, eight heart attacks and a stroke and I still have to fight him on whether or not he gets to fry the one steak he is allowed per month as I am doing everything I can to keep from becoming an orphan at 41. And I have to constantly watch his crazy diabetic butt to keep him from ingesting all manner of ice cream and donuts, all the while lamenting that “the sugar” is going to “take (his) feet”.
And even after I bullied, tricked and outright lied him into a 40 pound weight loss since he moved in, he remains 65 pounds overweight and it’s been an issue for some time. Based on photographic evidence I have recently uncovered, he transitioned from pudgy to officially fat sometime in 1974, y’all. And as a former fat boy, I can tell you that the more weight you have on your body, the more pain you will feel. Doctors have said that for every pound you are overweight, it’s like four pounds of pressure on your joints. Imagine walking around with your best friend strapped to your back, unless of course your best friend is crazy skinny like mine was in high school (Hey Paige!). Then imagine walking around with your best friend and her Mama strapped to your back.
As someone who has lost 200+ pounds in the last four years (yes, I am bragging), I can attest to the feeling of being able to leap like a mountain goat from peak to peak once you shed the equivalent of a normal-sized person from your person. However, that feeling quickly passes at the first failed attempt to jump to anything other than the premature conclusion that you are actually in decent shape (see previous bicycling blog).
I was also sad to find the only thing that changed with my weight loss was a thinner me. I had the same issues, same problems, same everything, both good and bad, other than a more stylish wardrobe. And while that is awesome (pastel chinos are a beautiful thing, y’all), it wasn’t the only thing I thought would automatically change. To find that skinny people are just people who are skinny was an unexpected let down. And here I talked about y’all all those years. I apologize profusely to all and sundry. Well, except for that one girl. You know who you are.
I have tried everything I can think of to motivate The Dad because further significant weight loss will not take place as his only exercise is walking between his recliner, the bathroom and the kitchen table. Driving at “full rabbit” on his scooter doesn’t do anything for anyone except keep those in his way unexpectedly exercising lest they be rundown by an aggressive Santa look-alike in a Tractor Supply hat, a stash of contraband Almond Joys hidden in his basket underneath assorted crime novels and packs of Freedent, the gum of choice of denture wearers nationwide.
The only part of his body that is in any sort of reasonable shape is his mouth, as it gets a constant workout due to his sudden singing of random songs like “Rainbow Stew” and “Why Me, Lord?” and whistling with a talent on par with a songbird, y’all. It’s a truly amazing sound, like he’s kidnapped a bird and hidden it, like everything else, in his shirt pocket. I thought about comparing him to the Hager Twins or any other minor members of the Hee Haw gang, but I’m still reeling from the residual shame of admitting I knew the identity of Faron Young in Senior English in high school. The only other people with that knowledge are in a nursing home and think a blog is something “your Daddy useta get. It’ll pass.”
And that is all I’m saying.