Monday, July 20, 2009
[Me, before the story that follows. When you get to the part about my teeth breaking, picture me without the six teeth you can see on the bottom, OK?]
Say you were me, with your fast-pitch softball team facing possible elimination from the playoffs come Sunday. What would you consider a good sign concerning the weekend? If God sent you a message, and you were to interpret it as a portent of good things to come, what might that message be? Is it possible that having your dental prosthesis snap into three pieces while eating an egg roll might be seen as a prophecy for success?
No, I didn’t think so, either.
That’s what happened to me on Friday night, though. I had just gotten home from work and was feeling extremely good. I had the entire weekend in front of me and three softball games to play on Sunday. There was leftover Chinese food in the refrigerator. Life doesn’t get much better than that (at least for me, which may seem a shame to some of you, but I like it.)
I took some lobster sauce with shrimp, and some fried rice, and put it into the microwave to heat. While it was getting warmed up, I figured I’d eat an egg roll. I opened up a container of duck sauce, dipped the egg roll into it, and then took a big bite out of it. Or, at least, that’s what I tried to do. Instead of my choppers going through the egg roll, leaving me with a mouthful of savory goodness, my choppers snapped in two places at once, leaving me with a mouthful of obscenities.
"Oh, whudda fug! Muvvafugga! Chit! Boo Chit!"
(There is little in this world more humorous than a man trying to swear when he suddenly finds himself with six fewer teeth than he had a moment ago. In abeyance, of course. While it was happening, I wasn’t laughing.)
You don’t hear a loud *CRACK* inside of your mouth all that often, so I knew immediately what had happened. It had happened to me once before, about eight years ago, when I had had a similar experience eating pizza.
(Perhaps, rather than a sign from God concerning the coming weekend, it is just His way of telling me I should be eating a healthier diet? Nah, couldn’t be that.)
The incident with the pizza was with my uppers. At that time, had it involved my lowers, it would have been much more surprising since I still had my lower teeth. Anyway, it went down like this.
MY WIFE and I were sitting in The Pleasant Cafe in Roslindale eating some pasta and pizza. I had just recently been fitted with a set of temporary uppers. I was happy as a clam. All the work seemed to be going well. I had no discomfort. I was eating good food in one of my favorite dives. I picked up a slice of pizza and bit into it.
Since my mouth was mostly closed around the pizza, the sound resonated in my head. It apparently made no noise outside of my head; MY WIFE told me later that she didn't hear a thing. Well, I knew it had to be something bad because you don't hear a big old *CRACK* inside your noggin unless something serious has happened.
I felt around inside my mouth with my tongue and immediately found the damage. The new prosthesis had snapped almost in half. It was no longer firmly anchored to my incisors, either. The two halves were still attached, but barely, and if I opened my mouth, the whole works might have plopped out into my dish of spaghetti.
MY WIFE looked up from eating and saw what must have been a look of some terror on my face. She immediately said, "What's wrong? Are you OK?"
By clenching my teeth together, the prosthesis stayed more-or-less in place where it should have been. I had to be careful speaking because I could have cut my tongue on the sharp edge where it had broken. I said, through the clenched teeth, "My... plate... broke."
She looked down at my spaghetti.
"No... the... plate... in... my... mouf."
It took a moment for that to register. Once it did, she knew I couldn't eat anything else. She said she'd get the waitress to come and pack up our food so we could go home.
While she looked for the waitress, I sat there with my jaw clenched, embarrassed. I was sure that everybody else in the restaurant knew I was a guy sitting there with a broken plate in his mouf.
On the ride home, MY WIFE told me about her conversation with the waitress.
"My husband just broke his plate, so could you please pack up our spaghetti and pizza to take home?"
"Broke his plate? We can get him a new one. You don't have to leave."
"No, he broke his plate."
"Really, it's no problem! I'll be glad to get him a new plate of spaghetti."
My mouth had become an Abbott & Costello routine.
Since that debacle, I’ve had my lowers done. You can more-or-less read about it HERE, if you’re of a particularly sadistic frame of mind and have an hour to kill and don't mind a story about drugs and bugs. The bottom line is that this prosthesis was one I hoped would be in place, without repair, until at least October, possibly a few months beyond then. Now I was faced with the possibility of having to have a new one fashioned, at considerable unaffordable-at-the-present-moment expense.
I was sad, but I was furious even more so. I was NOT going to spend my weekend in a dentist’s chair. I immediately decided, even as I held my teeth in my hands, that I would either repair the damn thing myself or just plain go without until Monday. I had a weekend to enjoy and I was going to enjoy it, teeth or no teeth.
But first, I had lobster sauce and fried rice.
Yes, I was so frickin’ mad – as in insane - that I decided I was going to eat the Chinese food first. I was hungry, I wanted it, and if God had some sort of telegram for me, I wasn’t taking delivery until after I had eaten.
I took the plate of food out of the microwave, brought it into the living room – leaving the remnants of my teeth on the sink – and chowed down as best I could. Here’s something to remember, though, should you find yourself in a similar situation: bottom teeth help to hold food in your mouth. You can scrape stuff off of the fork with your uppers, but much of it will dribble out onto the floor unless you shut your mouth really tight. I learned this lesson by the third forkful.
While I sat there gumming my shrimp, I formulated a plan. Immediately upon spitting my teeth out into my hand, I had gone to the bathroom to look in the mirror and assess the damage. The break had occurred at the two anchors of the prosthesis. That is, the ends of the denture were still glued solidly onto the three filed-down real teeth (two on one side of my mouth, one on the other) onto which it had originally been fitted. The middle portion I held in my hand was intact and, when I put it into my mouth – gingerly - I found that it fit perfectly against the jagged breaks. It was probably fixable. I swallowed the last of the not-chewed-very-thoroughly shrimp and went into the kitchen to look for (Are you ready? The adjectival portion of the name fits perfectly) a tube of Krazy Glue.
Oh, yes. I know. You needn’t tell me, and you know me well enough by now to know I wouldn’t listen, anyway. Any number of hideous things could have happened. I could have ended up with my tongue permanently adhered to the roof of my mouth, or perhaps had my lips glued shut, which some folks would have DEFINITELY taken as a sign from God, but I did it. And, you know what? It worked. Thus far, my teeth are still glued in place and there’s only the tiniest bit of misalignment from how they were before. When you take every bad thing that could have happened into consideration, I’m an idiot, yes, but I’m a relatively happy one, at least for the moment, and I have the smile to prove it. I’m not taking any chances, however, and I am eating nothing but soft foods and liquids until I’m absolutely sure that chomping down on, say, a piece of steak, won’t bring about a repeat performance.
And now, to bed, to dream of softball supremacy. Tomorrow we play a tripleheader, a round robin, to determine who gets into the playoffs. We have to win two of the three games we play. If we don’t, the world will come to an end. Well, no, it’s nothing that dire, but it will make me a very unhappy camper and I’d like to think my quota of unhappiness was filled to the brim with the teeth thing. We’ll see.
(By the way, I’ve always said that everything God does, He does for a purpose. And I’ve found that even the things I thought sucked while they were happening always have led me to a better place eventually. I believe that’s the case in this situation, too, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out how or why. It will happen, though. It always does.)
Pollyanna, over and out.
It’s 7:45pm, Sunday night. I just now got a joke Big Jay Atton made at 8:30am this morning.
I didn’t realize he was making a joke at the time. See, I was warming up for our games, first one to the field, as usual. He and Buddy were the next ones to arrive. While Buddy went off to buy a drink someplace, Big Jay told me that toasters were on sale at Walgreen’s. I said something non-committal like, "Gee, Jay, that would be swell if I needed a toaster."
D’Oh! He was making a joke about a joke that I had made and I didn’t realize it. I had forgotten that I wrote, in the last entry to this blog, that I’d be taking a toaster into the shower with me if we lost and didn’t make the playoffs. Here’s a guy who actually reads the crap I write, and I dissed him.
Oh, well. Sorry, Jay!
It’s all good, anyway. Turns out I didn’t need the toaster.
BOMBERS – 30 Courtesy Flush – 0
BOMBERS – 12 Moe Howard Club – 9
BOMBERS – 20 Brighton All-Stars – 10
The Bombers took care of business in a spectacular way. We are in the playoffs. Of the other participants in the lower-tier round-robin, The Moe Howard Club also got in. They won two of three, their only loss to us.
Poor Courtesy Flush. We just shredded them in game one, the All-Stars shut them out 11 – 0 in their next game, and then they had a real chance to win their first game of the season, taking Moe Howard into the final inning before losing. They trailed, 9 – 6, but they had bases loaded with two out. We like the guys on Moe Howard a lot, but I think all of us were rooting for Courtesy Flush to pull it off. Alas, their last batter struck out and they were 0 and 17 for the year.
OK, enough about other teams. Here’s the wonderful day the Bombers had.
Well, first off, when you win a game 30 – 0, most everybody gets to fatten up their batting averages. Everybody except Big Jay Atton. He went 2-for-3 and had his average go down. That’s what happens when you’re batting something like .750 coming into a game.
(For the record, Big Jay went 9 of 11, with 3 home runs, so he actually raised his average when all was said and done. On top of that, he pitched the shutout in game one. He’s the only ballplayer on the planet having a better year than Albert Pujols.)
Cam Zirpolo and Pat Atton each had 5 RBI in game one. Pat hit a grand slam in the first inning, putting a cap on the 9 runs we scored before recording an out. In all we scored 13 in the first. We put up another 13 in the fourth. By the time the dust had cleared, we had the most lopsided win in team history.
Then it was time to make the playoffs. We had Moe Howard next. They had beaten the All-Stars in their first game, and whoever won the game between the two of us would be in, leaving the other guys to scramble in the third game.
It looked to be a great match-up. Their pitcher, Mark, had held us to one run previously. And our guy, Dave Vargas, had held them hitless through 5 1/3, winning his game, 4 – 2.
Emilio Zirpolo led off with a double. Two doubles, two singles, and two walks later, we were up 4 – 0. That was as many runs as we had scored in either game against those guys earlier in the year. MHC showed some balls, though, and came back with three of their own in the bottom of the first. The expected pitchers duel was already off the boards.
After a scoreless second inning, MHC dropped 3 on us in their half of the third. We came back with three in the top of the fourth, the big blow being a two-run triple by Cam Zirpolo. Then MHC took it back in the bottom of the inning: two runs, for an 8 –7 lead.
After two quick outs in our half of the fifth, there came what I consider one of the most important plays of the entire season. Pat Atton rapped a sharp one to left center, and he tore around first base looking to get into scoring position with two outs. He slid into second just as the ball arrived, and the ball went bounding off the second baseman’s glove into a no-man’s land that allowed Pat to hop up and continue on to third. The throw came to third, skipped of off the fielder’s glove, and went out of play. The umpire awarded Pat home. We were tied, 8 – 8. It was a great hustle play, the very definition of manufacturing a run. Pat could have loafed it and just stayed at first with a single. Instead, he tried to make something happen, and he sure did. It was great ball on his part.
Moe Howard didn’t dry up and blow away, though. It was still a tie game. They pushed one across to take a 9 – 8 lead.
Last inning. We score now or have to play for our lives in game three. Our first two batters made outs, a pop to the first baseman and a grounder to short. Not looking good. However, Big Jay – surprise! – hits a single. Dave Vargas follows with another. Jack Atton works a base on balls, loading the bases with two out.
Joey Baszkiewicz works the count to 2 and 1, and then lifts a fly to right center. Looks like an easy catch, we’re going down, time to start thinking of the third game.
Except their guys have a miscommunication, it drops off the glove of one of them, and we score three runs because nobody on our team takes anything for granted, so they were all running full out. Joey ends up on second. Fast Freddy Goodman follows with a single, scoring Joey. Our lead, 12 – 9. Moe Howard threatened in their final at-bats, but didn’t score. And we were in the playoffs.
The final game was anti-climactic, but fun. We continued the pattern of the day by scoring 8 runs in the first inning. It was never in serious doubt after that. Buddy Carchide had probably his roughest outing of the season, but he didn’t blow up at any point. We kept him in the lead and finally put it away, bringing our regular season record to 8 – 8 – 1, good for a 5th place finish and a date against the Renegades next week, best 2 of 3 to move on.
My day? 3-for-6, a double and a triple, 3 walks, 4 runs scored, and 4 RBI. Not bad for an old fart with busted choppers.
Soon, with more better stuff.