If life can be described in periods (and life is described that way all the time) then the period I am entering, as of today, might be called the "toothless" period. Today's trip to the hospital for physical therapy included a visit to their dental clinic to have a tooth extracted, an upper secondary molar to be exact. It is only the second time I have had to give up a permanent tooth, and I cannot say that it was without regret that I did so today. The first one I lost was an accident, delivered in the form of a piston sized spring loaded tripod that I knew little about but felt compelled to play with all the thingamajigs attached thereto anyway. That is until I found the release of the spring just as I was bent over the device. The front tooth thus lost, to the effect of my sudden transformation into looking like a hockey player, was replaced by an artificial one that still stands proud and ready to rip meat. The offending tooth extracted today had previously been broken, and I have known for a long time that it would eventually lose it's bony grip. The tooth that appeared on the tray after a deft procedure by the dentist, was rather long. Perhaps I should amend my label for this period of life to "longtooth". That has a certain primitive ring to it and I rather like it. I thought about these things during the taxi ride back to the apartment all the while clamping down on a hunk of gauze provided to stop the bleeding.
Only after I resettled in the apartment, and began to contemplate which pain killer I would take, did I read the instructions provided by the dental office on the care and healing of the wound left in the now unoccupied space in my mouth. Several chunks of the tasteless gauze were provided along with the following instructions:
"Bite the gauze firmly for 1 to 1 1/2 hours for baby tooth to help stop bleeding. If bleeding persists, change to new gauze and continue biting for another 1/2 to 1 hour, or until breeding stops."
So, I guess I could interpret the instructions as a recommendation that no more breeding was desirable, which I further assume is advise designed to avoid birthing any new baby teeth. Surely I was given the wrong instructions I thought. Certainly that long hunk of ivory that lay on the stainless tray in the dental surgery when I last bid it a final goodbye could not be confused with a baby tooth. At least not from any baby I would care to see.
There were no clues in the ensuing sentence on the instruction sheet which only suggested that I avoid "toughing the wound". I can vouch for the fact that I will avoid anything like "toughing" this wound for at least several hours. I am not sure what "toughing" the writer had in mind but the word raises mental images of sintering or repeated striking with a cinder block the why that karate enthusiast are alleged to do. In fact, I was thinking that about the only thing this wound might be exposed to for at least this evening is the eight year old Cuban rum I favor and some nice salty (and soft) chicken porridge. Since the "Big Lebowski" is on HBO tonight I think I can make it through the evening, without thinking about the missing tooth or whether I should have saved it for the tooth fairy, but I'll bet it would have fetched more than a quarter.
P.S. Expatriates and Western visitors get no end of amusement from the kind of "English-as-a-second language mistakes that appear in this part of the world. While we can be rational, and understanding human beings, lets face it, when something strikes your funny bone it is very difficult to be gracious. We know that our hosts are far superior to us who refuse to learn a second language in any communicable form. We also know that we provide no end of hilarity to them through our frequent misguided faux paux here. However, the use of English, especially in Asia, is just too ripe to not find humor in thereof. In fact, we have a name for it apparently. It is called "Engrish" and there is a whole website dedicated to examples of it. Enjoy. By the way, when I have my libation tonight, I think my toast will be..."may the next loss of a tooth take so long".