Monday, April 17, 2006

Toothless Circus Freak

Most people go through life dreading they'll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They've already passed their test in life. They're aristocrats.
- Diane Arbus, photographer

Ok, so my bum is healed but now my face is all busted up. Imagine, if you will, being pummeled in the mouth by two prize winning fighters for 2 hours – only these fighters have the additional assistance of sharp steel instruments with which to poke around in your sorry ass mouth as you bleed and gag. Got a nice vivid picture? Can you feel the hammer slamming the screws into your jaw bone? Taste your blood as it seeps past the suction tubes? Smell the fighter's after shave as he punches you over and over again?

Well, that is the joy I underwent in a dentist’s chair 2 weeks ago while getting dental implants. Apparently, I was a very “tough case” (he tells me laughingly afterwards). Oh yeah, not only are my missing teeth front and center (thus making mistakes all that more awful) but my bone mass has receded so they jammed some cadaver bone up there to pad the sucker. That’s right, there are anonymous dead people in my head. And when I ask them about who these people are and where they come from, all I get is weird looks. Like you wouldn’t want to know if there were dead people implanted in your gums??! Duh!

“There's a quality of legend about freaks. Like a person in a fairy tale who stops you and demands that you answer a riddle.”
- Diane Arbus

All of this melodramatic trauma goes back to when I was 9 years old. I was riding my bicycle up a hill near our apartment in Johnson, VT. It was a hot, muggy day and I was coming back from the swimming hole with my friends Noah and Erin. My bike chain had a history of falling off out of the blue, and it decided to fall off once again, only this time I was pushing my way up a hill. My head flew forward and smacked the handle bars. Next thing I knew, I was on the ground and there was hot liquid dribbling out of my mouth. I put my hand up to catch it and it was immediately filled with blood. I felt no pain. But I also didn’t feel a tooth where there had been one moments ago.

Later, when I was home and cleaned up, I remember staring in the mirror at the gap where my front tooth had been. I had only grown it in a couple of months ago and now it was gone. A clean hole was all that remained. If I had known then what I know now about the years of pain, suffering and money that would be sunk into that gaping hole, I imagine I would have crumpled up in a ball and sobbed. Instead, I just wiggled my tongue through the gap and marveled at the presence.

Freaks was a thing I photographed a lot. It was one of the first things I photographed and it had a terrific kind of excitement for me. I just used to adore them. I still do adore some of them. I don't quite mean they're my best friends but they made me feel a mixture of shame and awe.
-Diane Arbus

Fast forward through braces, flippers, and flippers accidentally thrown in the trash only to be dug up after dinner to when I was 16 yrs old. I was living in Indiana with my father and a dentist decided to improve the aesthetics of my smile by giving me a new bridge. To do this, he pulled out my second front tooth - which happened to be perfectly healthy and was not hurting anyone. Then he shaved the two teeth on either side of my (now gone) front teeth down to little skinny teeth. He glued a 4 tooth bridge on top of them and called it a day.

For many years, this bridge served me well and all was fine and dandy in the land of teeth. In fact, over the years, I almost forgot that these fake teeth were not my own. They became a part of me, much like my real teeth had once been. Fast forward to 15 years later and the bridge is loose. Dentist after dentist (yes, I asked them all) tells me that I have to get dental implants. “No, no, no,” I say. I do not have 10 G to spend on new teeth. I like my old teeth. We have been together for 15 years!! We are attached, literally! Do not take away another part of me!

After much grumbling, complaining and putting off, I finally made the appointment to get the implants. The surgery lasted for 2 hours and even though they asked me to go under, I chose to stay awake. I went under to get my wisdom teeth out and felt awful afterwards, as though I had died and been resurrected or something. I wore my big headphones and played my ipod on shuffle and tried to pretend I was on a desert island. This was hard to do when the hammering commenced. Yes, hammering. They hammer the titanium screws up into your skull and your entire head reverberates. They also cut your gums open, flip them up and carve away at your bone ridge before hammering. But I am not here to disgust you. I am not here to complain about my bruised face and lip; the days of pain and suffering and healing and exhaustion; the creepy stitches that I have to leave in for 3 bloody weeks which make me smile all weird like I have facial tics; or the fact that I have to eat everything with a knife and fork, yes, this includes hamburgers and sandwiches.

“Everybody has that thing where they need to look one way but they come out looking another way and that's what people observe. You see someone on the street and essentially what you notice about them is the flaw. It's just extraordinary that we should have been given these peculiarities. Something is ironic in the world and it has to do with the fact that what you intend never comes out like you intend it.”
- Diane Arbus

No, I am here to tell you about the joys of being toothless! That’s right, I am coming out of the closet as a toothless super freak. We value teeth as one of the signs of good breeding and class status. Being toothless immediately throws you in with the the circus freaks, the unfortunates, those who are unable to afford good dental care. Turns out I am not alone in my freakiness. Shane MacGowan of The Pogues is my new super hero. He let his teeth slowly rot away due to drink and poor hygiene and eventually they all got pulled. And does Shane go around wearing the fake teeth the record company bought him? Hell no! Shane McGowan is a crazy drunk Irish rock star and he stalks around stage toothless and proud!

Regardless of how you feel inside, always try to look like a winner. Even if you are behind, a sustained look of control and confidence can give you a mental edge that results in victory.
-Diane Arbus

So viva le freaks! And may we all take out our fake teeth and be proud of our toothless status. And may my new $10,000 smile be worth every damn bloody, cadaver-filled penny.


Tmoore said...


Cheers baby; you're a superstar - with or without teeth i'd still plant big wet ones on that sexy kisser of yours all day long; And what's 10g's hu? didn't we use that stack of 100's the otherday to get the fireplace started? pish posh.

Q_Monroe said...

hooray for a new post! what are flippers?!?

Eva the Deadbeat said...

thanks guys! you have warmed the heart of a toothless circus freak!! and to explain, flippers are these creepy things that attach to the underside of your mouth with a fake tooth on them. i was always taking my flippers out at the dinner table and losing them. good fun with toothlessness!

The Le Duo said...

shane mcGowan is a rock star?


is corey haim still a movie star? I heard he had some trouble with his teeth so he tried to sell 'em on ebay.

Eva the Deadbeat said...

well, shane is a rock star in the sort of, "I eat plastic and have no teeth" sort of rock star way. actually, i think corey haim is ALSO a rock star these days but in more of a "poetic love song that makes me barf in my mouth" sort of a way. maybe i should buy shane's teeth on ebay...mmmmmmm....

Tmoore said...

Then you'd know who's cadaver was in your mouth.

i mean, NOT Eww....

Eva the Deadbeat said...

it is SO ewwwww...makes me go EWWWW just to think about it....ewwww....