Summer Teeth (2017)

Last week was the busiest, most eventful week I can recall having in quite some time.  Three dentist appointments in a two-day span, a night out in Dallas, an afternoon in the trendy Magnolia area of Fort Worth, two concerts (multiple bands), all the while never missing a beat at work.

I’m not used to being so… social.  Long entry follows.  And if you want to read about the tasing on the DART train in Dallas, you’ll have to read to (or skip to) the end.

Like a cloud his fingers explode
On the typewriter ribbon, the shadow grows
His heart’s in a bowl behind the bank
And every evening when he gets home
To make his supper and eat it alone
His black shirt cries
While his shoes get cold

The excitement started on Tuesday.  It was a day I had been planning on for so long that I began to think it would never happen.  But recent events really motivated me to make it happen, so I did.  And I showed up promptly at the dentist office at 8am.

You know the phrase “it’s like pulling teeth”?  Well, that doesn’t really apply to me because mine are (were) so bad that it is actually easy.  And Tuesday was the day to get them all out and replace them.  Gone were pipe dreams of saving them, and honestly those days were gone long ago.  Probably in my early 20s.  And my jaw bones continued to recede, making my partial denture virtually hidden by my upper lip, to the point where I looked toothless anyway.

I had considered just getting a new partial, but why not splurge (after a purge)?

So my morning appointment consisted of the worst part – making a mold of my mouth by filling it with goop that could best be described as, well, goop.  This stuff is thick, gooey, and had to go all the way to the back of my mouth, which is hell for me because I gag easy.  But I was home by 9am with little blue play-doh like bits stuck in my facial hair. Time for some more work before returning to Arlington for my 2pm appointment when the dirty work would happen.  So I worked until about 1:15 and then hit the road again.

It’s just a dream he keeps having
And it doesn’t seem to mean anything
And it doesn’t seem to mean anything

It all started with shots to the gums.  I declined the gas because I was driving myself home, and the local anesthesia never bothered me (except for the initial pinch of the needle in my gums).  And while waiting for the numbness to set in, I killed time by posting to Facebook (a reference to the Seinfeld episode when Kramer is numb from the dentist and Mel Torme mistakes him for a “special needs” adult) and texting with my friend Nathan.  These types of things were not possible on my last tooth pulling outing. I think I watched TV, or something lame like that.

When it came time for the extractions, they were done with ease.  All 14 of them.

And then with a numb mouth full of blood and gauze, I headed home to work.

Yes – that’s right.  I had 14 teeth pulled and went immediately to work.  And worked until closing time.  Big, HUGE thanks to Peggy for going to the store to get me more gauze as I was going through those supplied to me like crazy.  Evidently I’m a bleeder.  And hydrocodone makes me extremely sleepy.  I learned that, too, but fought through it.

I was told to sleep in a sitting up position that night, which I did not trust myself to do in my bed, so I slept in a chair in the living room with my dog Bodie dutifully on the ottoman.  But before I even got to the chair, I ended up involuntarily emptying my stomach in a violent fit of throwing up basically nothing but blood.  I was glad I had changed into a t-shirt that I didn’t care about earlier in the evening, because this was going to be a long night.

All that stuff that happened in the dentist office earlier – the goop, the shots, the 14 extractions – those were the easy parts.  The challenging moments were just beginning.

I dozed on and off all night, probably never sleeping for more than one hour at a time.

One summer, a suicide
Another autumn, a travelers guide
He hits snooze twice before he dies
And every evening when he gets home
To make his supper and eat it alone
His black shirt cries
While his shoes get cold

I woke up at 8am with a mouth full of coagulated blood but also scared to spit it out lest I disturb the clotting in progress.  Thankfully I had a 10am appointment with the dentist, and just as thankful that Peggy was driving me there (and back).  The aide that put the goop in my mouth the day before dutifully cleaned out my mouth and said “Yeah, it looks like a liquid diet for you for a while.”  And, no, not the liquid diet that many of you used to see me on back in the day.

It might be a good time to point out that I had not had a cigarette since my 2pm appointment the day before, nor had I had a Diet Coke.  Two of my biggest vices right down the drain.  All I had indulged in was water, and that would continue until the following day when I slowly reintroduced nicotine back into my system.

Once home from that appointment, I went straight back to work.  Blood all over my shirt and in my mouth, but we have a business to run, you know?  I was in pain, and the pills helped, but also made me doze off at my keyboard several times while in the middle of something for five minute intervals.  After this day, the only time I took the pills again was right before bedtime for the next few nights.

Mercifully, when I woke up on Thursday morning, the bleeding had seemed to stop.  Healing had begun in earnest, and Peggy had bought me meal replacements (Boost, Ensure) and pudding cups, so I was finally able to get something into my stomach that was not a reddish bodily fluid.  The only thing left now was to learn how to talk again.  (That’s still a work in progress.)

And would I feel up to my weekend plans?  The answer was no, but also yes.  Because I gutted it out.  So to speak.

It’s just a dream he keeps having
And it doesn’t seem to mean anything
It’s just a dream he keeps having

It’s rare that I quit working at our closing time of 2pm on Saturday, but I did on this week.  At precisely that time, I piled into the Jeep and headed to my friend Katy’s house in Dallas.  From there, she and I were going to a park in downtown for a concert/fair and also to meet a couple of other people – my friend Devin and my ex-wife Care.  Please, no questions.  Just roll with this.

Katy and I hung out in her backyard for a while before heading to the DART station to take the rail downtown.  That trip was relatively uneventful, which is amazing because the Deep Ellum Arts Festival was going on at the time and we went through that stop.  When we got to the park, I got Katy a beer and a water for me and then we walked around for a bit while listening to Mavis Staples just absolutely kill it on stage.  That woman and her band were amazing.  She definitely stole the show, and I found out later that I was not the only person who thought that.

Next up was Lucinda Williams, a crush of mine (hard living looks be damned), and I was disappointed in her set.  She did open with an Elvis Costello song (What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding) and close with a Neil Young song (Rockin in the Free World), but overall it was uninspired.  And she did not play my favorite song of hers (Hot Blood), so demerits were issued.

The Old 97s, hosts/organizers of the event closed the evening.  They sounded great, as usual, but Katy and I were so far away from the stage (by choice – no way we wanted to join that mob up front) that it was nothing really special.  Besides, I had seen them a dozen times or more before, so I just wanted to listen.  But it was the DART ride home that was exciting.


There were several cars on our train, but we happened to sit in the one that featured a man an a woman getting into a verbal altercation that led to the woman dropping her two bags of Williams Chicken before attacking the dude with a taser while people stood around yelling “Don’t hit her, man! Don’t hit her!”

Thankfully, he didn’t hit her otherwise who knows what would have happened.

The crazies got off a few stops before our destination, so the rest of the ride was calm – yet a bit tense for this non-city boy waiting for the next shoe to drop.

The drive from Dallas to home was uneventful, and I went to bed damn near right after I arrived.  That’s pretty rare for me.  But the hydrocodone I took didn’t hurt.  I had to get up early on Sunday to work before I left again at noon for another concert.

He feels lucky to have you here
In his kitchen, in your chair
Sometimes he forgets that you’re even there

And that’s where this week ends – at the Live Oak in Fort Worth for a reunion concert from pop poppins.  This would be the first time I’d seen this band since Edgefest 2 way back in 1993 (when they shared a bill with – among others – Dada, Belly, Gene Loves Jezebel, and Dinosaur Jr).  Of course, I’d seen them many times before that show as my brothers’ band was a frequent opening act for them.

I met my friend JP and his daughter at the show and was also able to at least say hello to 3/4 of the band.  I said hi and chatted very briefly with bassist Mark, got a hug from drummer extraordinaire Michael (current drummer for Better Than Ezra and the best drummer I’ve ever seen in concert), and talked a while with guitarist Bill.

While with Bill, some other guy walked up and Bill introduced us by saying that I was the brother of the guys in My 3 Sons/Digbees which was his “favorite local band”.  The other guy (I forget his name) said “Cool! I am a fan!”, to which I replied “Nice – I am, too.”

Yeah, I am a conversation master.

The show was great in a weird way.  There were some stops and starts, but it was all in good fun because it seemed like everyone in the room – and it was packed, but we had a reserved table – was a friend in some way to someone in the band.  So in a way it felt like we were all friends.  In other words, it reminded me of watching local bands at dive bars like The Crossing, Greenhouse Cafe, or Joe’s Garage back in the day.  It was pleasantly nostalgic.

pop poppins

It was also a fitting end to a long week – one filled with blood, music, tasing, and friends.  Something I could truly, finally, smile about.

me spare



It’s just a dream he keeps having
And it doesn’t seem to mean anything
It’s just a dream he keeps having
It’s just a dream
And it doesn’t seem to mean anything
– Wilco, “Summer Teeth”


2 thoughts on “Summer Teeth (2017)

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