Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I bought a box of conversation hearts. You know, the hard pastel candies stamped with blurry all-caps messages like BEAR HUG, CLOUD NINE, THAT SMILE and U R A STAR. Their sweetness offset by the weirdness of some of the sayings: WISE UP, TIME OUT, YEAH RIGHT and AS IF.

The one I popped in my mouth yesterday – pale yellow like watery egg yolk – must have said FUDGE U, though I didn’t look until it was too late. I bit into it and felt (or heard) a grinding crunch like I’d chomped on a pebble.

I dribbled the bits straight into the trash, bright gold now with spit, and realized that something had gone badly wrong. That inquisitive muscle – my tongue – grazed along what should have been the comforting curve of a molar and instead scraped against a sharp sheer cliff. A hand held mirror confirmed that tooth #19 was missing most of its crown.

No pain. Number 19 had undergone a root canal years before and was blissfully nonreactive to what had taken place. But still. I picked through the trash to find the little porcelain bits I’d just spat out. Yuck.

No missing tooth/death dreams. But my tongue ran – automatically, beseechingly, soothingly – over the broken surface all night. Upon waking to pee at 3 a.m. I thought how funny we humans are, comprised of bone and stone, our flesh just borrowed, our light only temporary. I’m thrown off by the loss of a chunkette of porcelain, nothing permanent or irreplaceable. What if I’d lived 200 years ago and my whole jaw was rotting out?

“A conversation heart did it,” I told Dr. Jacobs as I slid into the chair this morning.

He said it was probably fractured earlier and that “a marshmallow could have done it.”

Whatever.  No more $1,200 pieces of candy for me.

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