The tooth, the tooth and nothing but the tooth.
One minute, I’m chowing down on a chopped salad at Subway and the next minute I’m wandering through a crowded parking lot with my eyes bugging out of my head.
I had to keep moving or I’d drop to my knees. Like a zombie from “The Walking Dead,” I circled my car until my toothache subsided enough for me to drive.
“What the heck happened?” I would ask my dentist, Mike Howenstein, later. “There were no nuts in the salad. No croutons. Nothing dangerous.”
“Oh, lettuce can be very dangerous,” he said.
He then informed me I had bruised my tooth.
Over the years, I’ve bruised my knees. I’ve even bruised my ego. But a bruised tooth? This was a new one.
“It has to do with the way you move your teeth when you mash the lettuce,” Dr. Mike explained.
The good news? I wouldn’t need a root canal. The bad news? My injury sounded goofy.
“I’m never eating vegetables again,” I told my dentist. “This wouldn’t have happened if I’d been eating chocolate.”
He laughed and told me to chew on the other side for a while. He reminded me to wear my night guard. He did not warn me that chocolate can be dangerous.
But one week later, I was back in his office. This time, with a chocolate-related injury.
Yep, you heard right. A chocolate-related injury. The love of my life, dark chocolate, had forsaken me and broken my canine tooth.
“A friend told me to freeze those little Dove bar pieces,” I told Dr. Mike. “She said if I froze them, I would eat them slower and savor them.”
One piece a night. That was the plan.
I was on my fourth piece in a row when it happened. I bit down on Dove and my canine tooth bit the dust.
“Frozen chocolate can be very dangerous,” Dr. Mike said. “I’ve broken my own tooth on a frozen Snickers bar. The only time I eat those darned things is when I’m on vacation. But man, I can’t get enough of them.”
That’s what I like about my dentist. The man knows how to live. He also doesn’t judge me. He just fixes me up and sends me on my way.
I’ve heard of women falling in love with their plumbers, their auto mechanics and even their pool boys. But I have a special relationship with my dentist. Not in a romantic way, in a tooth fixing way. Let’s face it, if it weren’t for Dr. Mike, I’d look like Ma Kettle. Half the teeth in my mouth would be missing and the other half would be throbbing with pain.
“Stay away from the frozen chocolate,” warned Dr. Mike, as I got ready to leave his office. “And don’t forget to wear that night guard.”
“See you soon!” I said.
And I meant it. We’re having salad for dinner tonight.