As many readers have observed, this column is often used as a conduit for relating the many travails and adventures – fair or foul, of our local Geezer citizenry. This latest tale was brought to me by Montgomery Smedley, usually a very stoic individual but on this occasion he was a puddle of pathetic, feeling-sorry-for-himself tears. This is his story.
“For years I have prided myself in the manner in which I have accepted the slings and arrows that are an inescapable part of living accumulated over almost nine decades. I have gone broke several times; I have been fired from all kinds of jobs; I have lost tons of money in the stock market; I have children who no longer pay any attention to me; I lost a wife to cancer in the prime of her life; I have squandered many opportunities to get ahead; and I have experienced a host of bone-chilling mishaps. All these have been taken with a grain of salt, with an acceptance that says “why not me” rather than the whiner’s standard reaction of “why me”.
Smedley continues, “I used to live in the mountains of athletic achievments but now I live in the valley of memories, unable to perform those moves of grace and coordination that I once possessed. I have no problem, no regrets with my current status – as who am I to think that I am not subject to the immutable Second Law of Atrophy that says everything runs downhill, to decay – including me! The Bible makes all this inevitability very clear: “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field: the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” (Psalm 103:15,16).”
As Smedley continues his story, I am noticing some moisture forming in his eyes, some tremor in his hands, a shifting of steadfast gaze. He continues, “In the past I have accepted the usual amount of nicks and slashes such as diverticulitis, an inflammed gall bladder, a dislocated wrist and a fractured elbow, face cancers, arthritic hips, chopped off fingers, tennis elbow, strained achilles, innumerable cavities, gold crowns, and even a lower denture. None of these misfortunes were able to disturb my composure, but this latest assault I confess has brought me to my knees! All my resolve, my acceptance, and my stoicism have all washed away, leaving me as you see me now – a whimpering mess!”
“My breakdown started after I decided to have my dentist check on the status of my nine remaining upper jaw teeth, having experienced some recent chipping. My dentist is Dr. Fealgud Tinsley, a friend for nearly twenty some years, who has an office in Clinton that looks like Tara, the plantation house of “Gone With the Wind” fame. A visit to Dr. Tinsley’s office compares to using the Men’s room at Tabuki’s Theatre in Branson: it is very fancy with original artwork here and there, wall size pictures of his seventeen children and his Mrs. America wife, Chippendale furniture, marble fixtures, and piped in music to soothe the patient. But the thing that really blows your mind when you visit Dr, Tinsley’s is his female staff which are all “tens”on the order of Hooters or the Playboy Mansion. All this glitz, of course, comes with a price, namely your bill!”
“After Dr.Tinsley examined the x-rays and used his sharpened probe to confirm the humongous amount of rot found in each and every tooth, he reached for my hand in a kindly, sympathetic doctor-to-dying patient manner, and informed me that my nine teeth were beyond repair and hope and needed to be removed immediately! These last nine teeth were my final fortress against the forces of total defeat. I now was to be a total toothless geezer assigned to a denture paste existence. At bedtime, with my dentures, both lower and now upper now soaking for the evening in a plastic cup with a fizzing tablet, I forever would look like Popeye and talk like Daffy Duck! I will now be known as ‘Gummy’ instead of ‘Monty’!”
As I left the inconsolable Montgomery Smedley, I saw him thumbing through the telephone directory with his finger zeroing in on “Roller-McNutt.”, which has a branch conveniently right across the street from Dr. Tinsley’s office.