10.19.2007

Novacaine

Just remembered a story about hunger. As a young man of about 16, I had to visit the dentist and get some work done. (Why do we call it dental work? Shouldn't it be something appropriate like "Dental Pain Which Costs Me a Lot of Money and Makes my Mouth Sensitive to Tin Foil, Ice Cream, and Radio Waves?") Dr. Theurer was my dentist at that point (and continues to be, thank you). He was, and continues to be, very careful to make sure that I didn't feel any of the hellish pitchforks of pain that can often be associated with Dental Work. He shot me up with that enormous novacaine needle that should only feel like "a small prick," but really feels like an enormous novacaine needle being shoved sharply into the back of your jaw. Just to be sure, I'm pretty sure he shot me up twice. In a matter of minutes, I was slack-jawed and slobbery: Eric: I sheenk we've Ogay to GOah Dr. Theurer: Alright, let me just jam these instruments into your now-numbed chasmous mouth. Normally, this procedure would cause you to pass out with pain, but thanks to the miracle of novacaine, you don't feel a thing! Eric: Tha'sh grayd, doktor, can we jusd do thish theengh? Dr. Theurer: Ok, but before I stick this drill bit down your throat, have you ever heard that Bill Cosby sketch? Eric: YESH!! "Thair'sh shmoak cumeengh aut auf ma mouf!!!" (Laughs) Dr. Theurer: Exactly. It's not funny though. This is going to be like a calcium and flouride barbeque. With that ominous warning in mind, my body inevitably latched onto the keyword of the pseudo-verbal exchange: barbeque. As was usual every 30 minutes or so at that age, my stomach attacked me with a quick, rather sharp pang of hunger. You haven't filled me for at least 45 minutes! it seemed to say. I heartily agreed with my stomach, as is the usual case even now, and resolved to remedy the situation as soon as I got my Dental Pain done. Dr. Theurer's office was located right on 1300 East and 2100 South. VERY CLOSE TO WENDY'S IN SUGARHOUSE PARK. I have to admit that then (and now) I was a sucker for the quarter pound combo meal with a Frosty in place of a drink. So, I made my way out of the office towards my teenage holy grail: the Number Two Meal. Slavering, either at the thought of the succulent burger or because of my novacaine-induce lack of salivary control, I made my way over to Sugarhouse and the promise of ground beef goodness. Rolling up to the drive-through intercom, I smoothly queried "Kahn ah-ee git ah Numbor Toooo, pleash, and kahn ah-ee git a Froshtee in shted av ah dweenk?" Amazingly, the clerk's response was "You sure can. Your total will be 4.59 at the Second Window. Have a good day!" For the first time in my life, both the teller and myself had understood each other, and were together edified. It was a joy that would not long last, I'm afraid. After getting home with my prize, two horrible things occurred: I dropped my Frosty (which made a very self-satisfied "Shplunk!" sound as it shplunked all over the kitchen floor) and, to my horror, I realized that my mouth was still incredibly numb. Totally, incapacitatingly numb. I nearly sobbed. By this time, my stomach was rebelling and had begun to devour itself slowly. My survival instincts were beginning to kick in and take over. I had to do something, and quickly, otherwise I was going to starve to death in the middle of our kitchen. I often informed my mom that one day she was going to come home late from work and find her eldest son passed out--or worse--from hunger in the middle of the kitchen. She always thought I was kidding, laughed, and said something about me "being a big boy" and I how I "deserved it" if I couldn't fix myself some food. Now, with my food half in front of me and half around me on the floor, and with no way to eat it, I couldn't believe how cruel my mother was. Cold, insensitive, uncaringly cruel. How could she laugh at me?! This is an emergency! I thought. Panic stricken, I resolved to do the only thing I could do: BRAVE THE BURGER. I slowly brought the juicy thing to my lips and, to my horror, couldn't even take a bite. It was like a wall had been erected in front of my teeth. I tried again...with no success. I decided I needed a mirror to make sure I was doing this right. In the bathroom, then, I quickly discovered from the mustard marks on my face that I had unsuccessfully tried to feed my chin. With a mirror in front of me, my burger in hand, I thought I had it made. Carefully, watching my reflection raise the foil-wrapped wonder to my mouth, I took a reverse bite and wondered if my taste buds would be numbed as well. Oh, sweet world! Don't take this last joy from me! The world didn't take that last joy. To my eternal relief, I could taste the burger! How the sweetness of the tomatoes mixed with the sharp onions! The briney pickles with the hearty beef! Oh, but the crispness of the lettuce only accented the grainy, sesame seed bread. Nothing could have been sweeter. Nothing could have brought more joy to my juvenile mind and/or stomach. Except.... except, it seemed like I was chewing a bit more than I had taken off. Watching my jaw work in the mirror, there was definitely more substance to what was being mastigated. Intrigued, I poked around and prodded the inner depths of my mouth a bit with a forefinger and, mortified, discovered that I hadn't bitten off more than I could chew--I had chewed up a bit of my tongue. This might disturb some readers. Frankly, it kind of disturbs me right now. But by that point, this seemed the easiest problem I had to encounter that day. No problem! I thought. This is something I can remedy. Eric's not dying today! So with the resolve of a starved Peruvian man stuck high in the Andes with no other source of sustenance than his since-passed-on friends, I grabbed the burger in my right hand, held my tongue in place with my left index and middle fingers, and proceeded to heartily inhale my Wendy's meal in the bathroom, watching the intricate fast food ballet in the mirror. So, I guess the moral of the story is, when I hear about people chewing their arms off or calmly breaking their own bones to escape some horrible situation in order to survive, I just think to myself: I've been there, man. I know their pain. I know their pain. And that's why I'm in law school.

8 comments:

Barb said...

That is so gross. But very funny! That numbness lasts FOREVER and there's nothing to do except wait it out and try not to swallow your tongue.

madelyn said...

The funniest thing to me about having your mouth completely numb is when you think you are acting normal - talking normally, smiling normally, etc. A similar thing happened when I got my wisdom teeth out. I could hardly talk, couldn't control the saliva spilling out of my mouth, and half of my face was numb but I had no idea! My family got a big laugh out of it and video-taped me partly as blackmail and partly to show me later after the Lortab had worn off. Another hilarious post, Elic.

Andrew McKnight said...

Excellent! Disgusting, but excellent. Great writing. While reading I felt like I was actually numb and starving! Although that could be due to my having only eaten a bag of popcorn today. And I enjoyed the small reference to speaking in tongues. Clever, clever.

EBV said...

Bless you for catching that, Andrew. Bless you.

Daniel and Nicole Hunter said...

Reading this makes me feel like I'm reading a new issue of "Calvin & Hobbes!" I love it! Funny and brilliant wit! And I'm glad I finally understand why you're in law school :) Definitely going to be visiting your blog much more often. Thanks Eric!

Sarah said...

Here I am, commenting on your blog. I'm a good girl, I am! And it's as gross today as it was a couple days ago...don't worry...it hasn't worn off. Anyway, I was thinking Saturday lunch as opposed to Saturday dinner, because I forgot about Laura Vasilescu's wedding reception that night, which Kirsti and I are going to (and you probably should too, if you're a good friend). If you check you blog half as much as you claim to in a previous post, you will get this message shortly and respond! Hmm. Have a good night!

EBV said...

Sarah, consider it done (Lunch that is--don't know if I should go to the reception).

Dan, you're an incredible man. Hobbes I am not, but a very significant part of me owes its life to Calvin.

Natalie L. said...

I had a similar experience with the removal of my wisdom teeth- only it involved a cafe rio beef burrito...that definitely wasn't mine. Apparently I strike up conversations with strangers and eat their food when my friends neglect to properly babysit me as instructed by my mother. To this day I can't shake the taste they left in my mouth- "maanggg tissss s goood. Kinnda saulty, mmmmm...I.. tink imm bledig. Hu ha!" Ah, the glories of modern dentistry.