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Friday, January 6, 2012

Mary's Been Hurty, or A Good Deed Comes Home to Roost

A hush falls over the office, the kitchen, the bus, 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…

Suzanne by Leonard Cohen
Tiger Mountain Peasant Song by Fleet Foxes
New Orleans is Sinking by The Tragically Hip
Province by TV on the Radio
Tiburon by Stan Kenton and His Orchestra
The Crunge by Led Zeppelin
Since You’re Gone by The Cars
Without a Fight by Janelle Monae


Uh-oh. A sense of melancholy has just slid in under the door. That isn’t you, is it? 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 believes, like me, that Zantigo’s is a proper reward for hard work, a woman whose imagination jumps immediately to the ridiculous, the woman with whom I’ve considered becoming a sit-down comedian, has had a serious problem.

Mary needs 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 says.

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

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

“OK,” Mary mutters, “we gotta go.”

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

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

Becky stops her. “Don’t you dare.”

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

The tooth – and the pain – is gone.

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

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

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

And just like that, it is over.

Mary is smiling again.

35 comments:

Vicus Scurra said...

You are lovely

Pearl said...

:-) Aww, go on, Vicus Scurra.

Tom G. said...

Friendship = Love

Beautiful story. I lawb you prrl.

Shelly said...

What a lovely thing to do- really loved this.

However, it also reinforces in me the reason why I haven't been to a dentist in over 16 years, and been only twice in the last 35. Ugh.

Pearl said...

Tom G., it's true. I love the li'l rabblerouser.

Shelly, you're not going to make me have Mary send you an e-mail, are you?! Get thee to a dentist, woman!! :-)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I liken a rotten tooth to getting a sliver--you have to endure a little pain to make the greater pain go away.

jabblog said...

What a lovely friend:-)

How awful to be in such pain, though. We have NHS dentists - not so many as there used to be, it's true - so really no-one should have to suffer such extremes.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Daisy said...

A touching story of friendship Pearl, and also a commentary on our societies where a person can suffer, even die, without proper medical attention.

CarrieBoo said...

Brilliantly painful.

Glen said...

That's what friendship is all about. That and getting very drunk while slagging each other off merclessly, of course

R. Jacob said...

I love when people do the right thing. It makes everyone feel good inside, the giver and the give-e!

skoots1mom said...

thankfulness shown and given...LOVE it!

jenny_o said...

A true linguist is fluent in Slur, and you, missy, are fluent!

On a more serious note, "a good deed comes home to roost", indeed - glad this had a happy ending.

Sarah said...

Pearl, you write phonetic Slur very well!

Stories like these are the ones that make you happy to be a human being.

Bodacious Boomer said...

Your fairy Godmother wand is in the mail...

Austan said...

Well, there's my daily choke up done.

It's a crime that dentistry isn't covered and we have to pay so much for so necessary a health service.

Kara said...

I'm a sucker for stories of human kindness. Made me all misty eyed...

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

A lovely story. Your humor makes it all the better.

Ms Sparrow said...

It's a crying shame that people have to go without dental care!

Lo said...

I love this post, I love you, I love Mary and I particularly love Becky.

And do write more slur sometime soon.....you are a master at it;

River said...

I love Becky.
I hate dentists who take a quick look when you go to them with pain and say they can't see any reason for it, then send you away again. When you turn up for the regular inspection, they say look at all thiese cavities...why didn't you come sooner? A pox on all of them!

I agree dental care should be included in the Medicare scheme. Too many people are suffering with bad teeth (me) because they can't afford to pay a dentist and most of them, 99.9%, won't accept time payments.

Gigi said...

It definitely won't be me with a broken heart this weekend....since I don't have one (according to my family)!

Bless Becky - she is truly an angel.

Tempo said...

America's health care scheme is unbelievable..for those of us with universal health care America stands as a warning of the things that can go wrong if we elect the wrong government...

Happy Frog and I said...

What a beautifully written story of friendship but as others have said this does make me even more grateful to live in a country where there are still a few dentists that offer free dental care to those in need.

Belle said...

How wonderful of Becky and I'm glad Mary is out of pain. Before my husband had coverage, I remember crying about not having enough money to take my kids to the dentist. My sister in the States pulled her own tooth. Very sad that dentists cost so much. There should be dentists who take payments and dentists who do dental work for the poor.

Leenie said...

Good to hear Mary's big heart and cool sense of humor has finally been rewarded. There is NOTHING as awful as dental pain. And it doesn't get better--ever. Tell her to stay with those antibiotics to keep the cadaver dogs away.

Susan in the Boonies said...

I'm so grateful for Becky. So glad Mary's on the mend as well!!! Give her my love.

I have a decaying wisdom tooth of my own, rotting away in the back of my mouth, and I am horrified to hear what fate might soon await me.

Can I get some gas, to go, do you think? Kind of as a preemptory strike?

Eva Gallant said...

I'm so glad that lady was able to take care of Mary. It's good that she's no longer in pain!

Linda O'Connell said...

High five for people doing the right thing! No bigger pain in the butt than a pain in the tooth or ear. Hope Mary's on the mend.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I'm sorry about all the pain and hassle Mary had to go through but what a lovely end result. Becky is an angel.

Great story, Pearly.

xo jj

Crystal Pistol said...

Poor Mary! I'm so pleased she is not hurty and that people are still willing to give and serve one another in this very shitty economy.

My husband had TWO teeth pulled this week. It was a terrible ordeal. He speaks slur almost as well as you write it. :)

Friko said...

It's the way you tell 'em that makes all the difference.

Lovely.

David L Macaulay said...

very touching Pearl...

Pat said...

Cor! That's a relief. Bless all concerned.