Whenever I need a reminder of the strange times in which we live, I just gaze into the mirror.
The person looking back at me resembles Drew Doughty, or any of his NHL-playing brethren who consider it perfectly normal to parade around with missing teeth.
One of the two most prominent teeth in my mouth, a maxillary central incisor, popped out while I was devouring a Rice Krispies square. This, a couple of days after B.C. and most of the country went into lockdown and dentist offices, along with almost everything else, were closed.
So I have been toothless now for almost two months and frankly I’m growing weary of explaining what happened to people at the grocery store or the liquor store or wherever it’s been I’ve come within two metres of someone I know.
The tooth, it should be noted, is a tiresome burden. It first came out 10 years ago, while I was on a trip across our northern territories with the Olympic torch. It broke while chewing on a piece of hard candy. (What an idiot, I know.) I jammed it back in and thought it would hold until I got back home and saw my dentist. But I was interviewing an Inuit couple in their home the next day, when the tooth flew right out of my mouth and landed on a small coffee table.
When I finally did get home a week later, my dentist glued it back in and told me it was likely to last several years in this form. It didn’t. And I’ve returned to see him every few years since to get it cemented back into place.
But that’s something I’ve not been able to do since the pandemic arrived to turn our lives upside down.
As with most things that concern the situation we all now find ourselves in, I have learned to cope. Missing a tooth is certainly a minor, mostly cosmetic, inconvenience in the grand scheme of things. And it barely rates mentioning, other than the fact that it has come to symbolize a deep yearning I have for my old life. The one that included dentists that I could actually visit.
The one that included friends I could actually see and hug and sit across from at the pub. Virtual drinks were fun for a while, but I’m getting tired of them too. All my friends feel the same. The lockdown is starting to wear. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for parents with young children underfoot. They must be going nuts.
I never considered a backyard a luxury until this spring. It’s where I go to contemplate the universe or sulk about the rotten state of affairs. And drink wine. (That’s a whole separate column.) And then each night I walk out into the middle of the street, and bang a pot for five minutes, wondering how long this will go on for. There must be pot bangers everywhere pondering the same question.
The answer, of course, is when it’s all over. But when will that be? Does anyone have an idea?
But back to my tooth.
A couple of weeks after it popped out while I was eating that damn Rice Krispies square, I received an e-mail from CTV asking if I’d do a television interview via FaceTime regarding something I’d written. I said that normally I would be happy to but, well, I was missing a front tooth and that would not likely work for television. Two minutes later my phone rang. It was a CTV producer. He said he thought he could make something work.
He FaceTimed me and asked me to move my iPhone around – mostly back, way back. Then he said: “I think we can do this.” “Are you sure?” I replied. “I don’t want to look like some utter moron.” I did the interview and, other than a few, if-you-look-real-hard flashes, you couldn’t tell. I call it a COVID-19 miracle.
Early on in my toothless epoch, a guy I know who runs the local hardware store asked me what happened. So I told him the whole Rice Krispies square story and he said he had something that would work on it. I went home and Googled: Will Krazy Glue kill if ingested? I didn’t like the answers.
Anyway, I was golfing the other day and the hardware store guy was out on his deck overlooking the 16th green. I walked by and said hi, and he yelled out: “You still haven’t got that tooth fixed?” The entire course must have heard him. “I told you I have something that will fix it.”
I smiled back at him and nodded.
“I might just take you up on that.”
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