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Friday, September 24, 2010

Mary Gets Hurty and a Good Deed Comes Home to Roost

A hush falls over the office, the kitchen, the train, as we contemplate the completion of another week of our lives and the approach of the weekend.

If only there was some way to know what to expect. If only we could be, say, forewarned so as to be forearmed…

But wait! Didn’t I tell you? My iPod! My iPod, set on “shuffle” and played during Friday morning’s commute holds the key to all of our questions!

What? Yes, really. Oh, humor me and play along. I have so little…

Bang and Blame by R.E.M.
Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie
Ball of Confusion by Love and Rockets
I Want Some More by Dan Auerbach
We Are The Ones by The Coup
Love Long Distance by Gossip
A Perfect Twist by Mike Patton

Uh-oh. Someone’s heart is going to be broken, I just know it. Luckily it won’t be mine, as I had it removed in splinters some time ago…

So! Do we have time for a story?

You remember Mary, don’t you? Mary, the woman with whom I earn an honest living, the cleaner of other people’s bathrooms and visitor of the elderly, the woman who has promised to keep me, as I age, from getting a wiry perm or acquiring sweatshirts appliquéd with teddy bears waving the American flag, had a serious problem.

Mary needed to have a tooth pulled.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. Not when you have no money and no insurance.

For the last two months, Mary has struggled, consuming up to 16 Advil a day.

The left side of her face eventually became quite swollen.

“Looka be,” she moaned through clenched teeth. “I ab so hurty.”

The first dentist, whom Mary feared she’d have to pay in foot rubs and popcorn hulls, diagnosed the wisdom tooth as abscessed, gave her a course of antibiotics, and sent her out the door with a figurative foot to the small of her back.

“We’ll take it out when you’ve finished the pills!”

With two days of the pills left, however, the tooth, Mary swears, slid off her jaw and deposited itself under her tongue.

I went to visit her.

“Awb tellin ya,” she slurred from between clenched teeth, tears in her eyes, “dat guy’s tryin ta kill me.”

She sipped a Fresca through a straw. “Int’restin fack,” she slurred. “Dey train cadaber dogs wif dead teef. My mouf’s lak a cadaber dog’s trainin groun’.”

Luckily, having lived with a man who believes there’s no need to move the jaw while speaking, I am fully versed in Slur.

“You think a cadaver dog would signal on your mouth?”

“Awb sure ub it.”

The next day, Mary’s friend Becky stopped in. Becky’s mother, Rose, is in an assisted living facility, and Mary visits her a couple times a week. Mary doesn’t have a car during the daytime hours, and visits Rose come hell or high water, via bicycle.

“I’m taking you to my dentist,” Becky said.

“No, no, no…” Mary said, grabbing her coat and her purse.

Pages of paperwork were filled out, but the last page stopped her cold. “All services to be paid in full at time of service.”

“OK,” Mary muttered, “we gotta go.”

Becky put her hand on Mary’s shoulder. “I’m paying.”

Mary stared at her.

“It’s the least I can do. You visit my mother-in-law when I can’t. Let me do this for you.”

Mary burst into tears. “I’ll pay you back. I swear –“

Becky stopped her. “Don’t you dare.”

The second dentist’s response to Mary’s abscessed wisdom tooth was encapsulated in one word: “Whoa”. Several shots of Novocaine later, a little gas to set the mood, and his knee was on her chest and wresting the offending tooth from her exhausted and swollen gums.

The tooth – and the pain – was gone.

“Everything okay, then?” he asked her. “You feeling okay in there?”

Mary grinned, her mouth packed with cotton gauze. She gave him the “thumbs up” sign, the "A-OK" sign, and an earnestly slurred “Ah luh yoo mang”.

"I love you, too," said the dentist.

And just like that, it was over.

Mary is smiling again.

45 comments:

Krëg said...

Did the dentist put the tooth in his "Cadaver Dog" jar?

Lionel Richie never sounded so good at this.

Sarah said...

That is absolutely sweet! I haven't had children yet, but the worst pain I've ever suffered was from my wisdom teeth. Wouldn't wish it on anyone.

I'm so glad to see a good deed getting rewarded. Too often life seems to reward the bad guys.

Pearl said...

Kreg, I believe he's going to have it displayed in the waiting room as a warning to other patients. :-)

Sarah, Mary's a good person and having that tooth pulled, she says, changed her life. The pain was debilitating and now she feels, as my dad likes to say, like a hundred bucks.

powdergirl said...

Poor Mary!

Sarah, I've had 2 children, an abscessed tooth is worse by far. except they don;t make you keep the tooth at home for 20 years after they take it out of your body :

Fred Miller said...

Those are all fine songs, but that line-up is ominous.

I particularly enjoy your blogs with characters. Your dad. Mary.

Have a great weekend Pearl!

Irisheyes said...

Awww Pearl! This post has me feeling verklempt all over again. I luh yoo Pearl!

Simply Suthern said...

Scuse me. I need the address to Becky's mom's facility. I am sending my son up to visit her for a while. He will vist everyday. Oh, it's not dental, more mental. Theres a burr up you know where that tends to get inflamed. I want it out. Spare the novacaine and gas.

Pearl said...

powdergirl, now THAT was funny!

Fred, thank you. I have a fondness for the people in my life, and I hope it comes out in the writing.

Irisheyes/Mary :-) Ah luh yoo too.

Pearl said...

Simply, :-) We'll sick Mary on him. That girl can set a guy straight!

Pearl said...

Yikes. That's "sic". :-)

furiousBall said...

that Mike Patton in there? that makes you awesomer

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows that cadaver dogs are trained with waste from the abortion clinic. Oh, and used tampons.

Sweet Cheeks said...

Poor Mary!
I hope she heals quickly - so she can enjoy making and eating those rice crispy treats except this time - she'll SPRAY THE SPOON! ;-)

xxx

Pearl said...

Furious, :-) Glad you're a fan as well.

Anonymous, hmm. Not sure what to do with you, as I know a bit about how cadaver dogs are trained... Of course, there's also the practicality of where one would harvest used tampons. Hmmm. I feel kinda gaggy...

Pearl said...

Sweet Cheeks, oh that's right! She was all confused re: the stickiness of Rice Krispy treats the other day, wasn't she?!

Mary is cleaning a house today with four bathrooms. :-) She works hard for the money!

Stacy Q said...

Ah lub da thlur taalk! Though I have to concentrate really hard and say everything several times out loud to myself with my tongue hanging out to figure out how to type it.

Symdaddy said...

I would have given her a piece of string and shown her to the nearest door that she could use.

But that's just me ... hey-ho!

Pearl said...

Stacy, luckily there are several men in my life who mumble, so I've become adept in at least TRANSLATING...

Symdaddy, woulda been cheaper!

white rabbit said...

i took it that the bit about the tooth sliding off her jaw and depositing itself under her tomngue meant that it fell out on its own but apparently not...

Loved the phrase about you being conversant in slur...

Sam Liu said...

This is a wonderful story, Pearl. I hate, hate, hate the dentist and have a terminal fear of it, so my heart goes out to Mary. But it's so great that her goodness and generosity were rewarded and acknowledged, she sounds like a marvellous lady.

Glad she's well now, and wishing you a brilliant weekend :)

Noelle said...

Simply's comment cracked me up! I loved this post! What a great story!!!

Bossy Betty said...

Loved the story! I have two students who are having tooth problems and are facing the same situation.

Thanks for letting us know what the all-knowing I-Pod is thinking.

Fragrant Liar said...

What a great story. The only thing that woulda made it better is if the dentist said, you're such an awesome person, my services are FREE! That's the kind of happy ending I like, Pearl.

Loved your music list. Especially David Bowie. God help me, I love that guy.

Gigi said...

What great people both Becky and Mary are - how fabulous to have them in your life (for you and for me to know that there are such fabulous people in the world).

Douglas said...

Teeth are so annoying. They bite your tongue and cheek and grow holes into which little bits of food travel and then rot away. It costs you money to keep them and more money to get rid of.

Dragonfly Dreams said...

What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing this Pearl (I am so tired of hearing about fires and earthquakes and recession!) - it was so nice to read something heartwarming!

vanilla said...

Oh, owww! That story hurt all the way through until we got to Becky and her dentist.
What a toothache.

Kelley said...

This story was so entertaining! Not that I found joy in the poor lady's pain, but...the way you wrote it. I loved how you wrote her words exactly as she said them. Ha! This post reminds me of a recent post I wrote about the tooth fairy and how old people need a tooth fairy, dang it!

Old people tooth fairy post (if you're interested. If not, man, I'm sorry I took up space in your comment column): http://kelleysbreakroom.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-doesnt-tooth-fairy-visit-old-people.html

chlost said...

Good people, good story. Thanks!

lisleman said...

great post - good thing you didn't rent Cast Away and watch it with her.

Hey, I read my favorite columnist (like a blog in some ways) today and it reminded me of your blog.
Chicago Tribune Mary Schmich
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-met-schmich-0924-20100924,0,1779706.column

a Broad said...

I am weeping here. This is so awful and so sweet !
Mary, sweet Mary should not have had to be in pain that long and have that kind of misery .. makes me want to go find an American dentist and shoot him .. or at least knock out his teeth, without Novocain.
Thank God for people like Becky ( and you) .. and that nice dentist..who also understands Slur.

Madame DeFarge said...

If only she had flossed, she'd have been fine. At least, my dentist assures me that's the cure for all known dental ills. That, and paying him vast quantities of cash for the opportunity to stare at his nostrils.

Sherilin Riley said...

i'm a cleaning lady w/ no insurance & no money & i too have had dental issues. i need a tooth pulling fairy too! dentists don't provide their customers with layaway plans.

Kal said...

This is why I follow you...because you Kitty Kat are one of the GOOD ones.

Joanna Jenkins said...

That story warms my heart! Three cheers for Mary and Becky-- and shame on the dentist for not working out a payment plan to relieve her misery.

Mary has a huge pain tolerance but 16 Advil a day-- I hope she doesn't have a major ulcer now.

Have a great weekend Pearl. jj

Cheeseboy said...

It's about time Ziggy Stardust ended up on the playlist. Happy for Mary. She sounds like a trooper.

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

These ladies are all so sweet, including the writer.
xoRobyn

Mildred said...

Nice to meet you Pearl and I loved this post. Have a great weekend.

Christine said...

oh I'm so glad Mary got her tooth pulled. It's terrible with no money and no insurance, in the good old USA.

Tempo said...

Nothing worse that a tooth ache....
Nothing worse that a tooth ache....
(worth saying twice)
My daughter didnt have dental and was plauged by a bad tooth...she took a pair of pliers and removed it herself. Hows that for tough!

Symdaddy said...

My method would have been the best and CHEAPEST.

£0.50p for the string (she could use her own door) and £75.00 for the idea, guidance (to said door) and tissues (box of) for the mopping-up operation afterwards.

I'm not greedy. I may even have offered a discount if she promised to read my blog.

Kal said...

email me - kheighton@hotmail.com - I have something cool to send you and I couldn't access your email.

Carla said...

Yikes,, teeth they really hurt when they aren;t behaving. Carla

Pat said...

Great people--Mary, Becky and the dentist. I'm so glad that kind, hard-working Mary was the on the receiving end of Becky's kindness and generosity...and the dentist sounded pretty nice, too.

Ann Imig said...

Beautiful and hilarious. That's Pearl's writing. Yup.