Dental Damned

Back in 1999, I went to the dentist for the first time in six years. Four crowns, multiple fillings and a root canal later, I decided enough was enough. A routine of brushing and flossing was adhered to diligently. I went in for regular cleanings and slept with a plastic mouth guard to keep me from grinding my teeth down to the gum line. I was a changed man, at least for a while.

Then came 2002, the year I lost my job and the dental insurance that went with it. I kept up with the dental hygiene for a while and still brush once a day, but the attention to detail began to slide as I eased into a new lifestyle of living on unemployment, drinking myself into a stupor every night, and sleeping till noon.

Eschewing flossing and seeing a dentist were problematic, though I didn’t much care. Sure my gums were receding, but so was my hairline. If a chunk of plaque got brushed away, revealing an enamel breach and a new source of pain, not a problem. I’d just move the chunk back where it was, pat it into place, and make a mental note to avoid that spot in the future.

Short of taking up crystal meth as a hobby, I have done everything bad to the inside of my mouth one can do and it shows. My gums are horrifying and my teeth have taken on the color, texture, and structural integrity of Corn Nuts.

I have since procured both regular employment and a dental plan, but had put off going in for a checkup until the time was right. Yesterday, the time became very right when I bit into a burrito and spit out a big piece of molar.

I made an appointment for Friday with the same dentist I had back in ’99. I remember him as a cordial chap who never berated me for the sorry state of my mouth and did his best to keep the procedures as painless as possible. But who knows? Maybe he has grown cranky over time. Lord knows I have. So instead of a reassuring demeanor and nitrous oxide on demand, he’ll just hit me in the back of the head with a two-by-four, fetching loose those teeth that weren’t worth saving anyway.

We shall see.

Rock the Volt

There were a number of power outages yesterday, but not enough to warrant management cutting us loose and letting us work from home. This was probably all for the best. Given my mood at the time, working from home would have meant surfing amputee porn until the Argus opened.

By 3 pm, electricity had been restored with no further interruptions. The outage had affected tens of thousands of people citywide. There was a follow-up from my company’s facilities dude that relayed the official explanation, an equipment failure of some sort.

I dismissed this of course and put the blame on a vast right-wing conspiracy. Dick Cheney, you see, was feeling extra ornery so he put in a call to his energy cronies, demanding reprisals against those San Francisco pinko liberals who hate America in general and him in particular. “Do it,” he snarled, “or I’ll come out there and shoot them all in the face personally.”

Usually, this type of fanciful thinking brings enough joy to my heart so I can get on with life and maybe even accomplish something. Not so this time. I sank into a hindsight-depravity psychosis that all but killed my productivity for the rest of the day.

“Pant pant, gurgle gurgle,” I mused. “It’s too bad the lights were never out long enough for me to crawl under some woman’s desk unnoticed. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than watching an upskirt matinee. The feature might have even been First Blood if it was Take Your Daughter to Work Day.”

Man, I sure hope nobody at work reads this.

Donkey Punched

Last Friday, my friend Alex visited this site, clicked on an ad, and was traumatized. No, the link didn’t whisk him off to or anything of the sort. While that might have been distasteful, or even stomach-turning, he could at least get through the experience without fear for the contents of his wallet.

Not so with Why Mommy Is a Democrat, a website promoting a children’s book of the same name. I went to visit the site and it didn’t take long to see what all the fuss was about.

The section featuring sample pages shows Mommy Squirrel and her blue-state brood leading a considerate existence while the text on the page tells us “Democrats make sure we all share our toys, just like Mommy does.” For contrast, two selfish people, presumably Republicans, seem not to give a shit as they walk by some guy, presumably homeless, hunkering on a park bench and lamenting his sorry lot.

I can see how this might cause my friend concern. He owns his own business and due to a combination of brains, talent, and the willingness to work to the point where it nearly kills him, he has managed to amass a fair chunk of change. The sight of indoctrinating a future generation to want to take it all away from him when he’s too old to defend himself can’t be pleasant.

My objections are a little different. I actually favor social programs as long as the safety net doesn’t turn into a hammock, though the real reason I side with the Dems is that they pose a lesser threat to our inalienable right to fuck and get high.

The problem I have is that the author has unwittingly written propaganda for the GOP. Drug-addict endomorph Rush Limbaugh has already pitched a hissy over the book. There will be more to follow and I know exactly what line they are going to spew: “Big-government Democrats’ agenda has always been to take control of people’s private lives. Vote Republican. We respect the individual.”

Yeah, unless the individual doesn’t get a stiffy for Jesus, wants to marry someone of the same sex, or has a problem supporting an unwinnable war sold to the public with a heaping helping of lies.

Here’s Looking at You, Skid

Saturday’s picnic, despite being a two year-old’s birthday party, turned out to be downright pleasant. I give a round of applause to the kid for being well behaved and a standing ovation to the adults who were who were instrumental in ensuring that behavior.

The parents, as well as the father’s sister, took turns escorting the birthday girl to a nearby playground where she could whoop it with the other screaming hellspawn. That kept us old folks free from the outbursts of a bored and cranky youngster as well as providing the kid a chance to enjoy herself in her element.

If only such arrangements could be made all the time.

I remember what it was like being a kid in the company of grownups. Not at the age of two, of course. I’m referring more to elementary-school age, but the same dynamic still applies. Instead of doing what I wanted to do, I had to sit and politely endure mind-numbingly dull adult conversation, usually between my Mom and some other equally bored housewife she was visiting.

Fortunately for me, I was older than two. I was old enough to fight back. My preferred tactic was harsh, almost terrorist in nature. Since I was a good kid, I would only unleash this form of retribution if the situation became intolerable. Intolerable, in case you were wondering, meant the conversation was dragging on long enough for me to miss part of a favorite TV show.

What I did first was to ask to use the friend’s bathroom. Permission attained and now perched on the toilet, I would shift my weight to one side and then let fly with as much force as I could. Due to skill attained through sheer repetition, not to mention the high-bran breakfast cereal my mother made me eat, I was able to achieve the hit-and-slide on the dry porcelain more often than not. A single flush afterward did little to censor my statement. Vindication was mine.

I am positive that a similar battle, in some bathroom out there somewhere, is being waged today. Mothers, and I suppose fathers too, really should think twice before yammering on about some piece of crap they bought on sale. To kids, it’s not as interesting as a rerun of “Star Trek” and it never will be.

Sweating the Small Stuff

Betty and I are going to Golden Gate Park today. Friends of hers are are throwing a party there for their two-year old daughter. There might be other small children attending.

Now here’s the tricky part. How much should I drink? It needs to be enough to make the afternoon tolerable but not so much that I wind up making a complete ass of myself.

I’ll see how I’m doing after knocking back my first forty.

Al Gore Skull Fucks Panda, Eats Its Butt

What seems to be all the rage, at least among conservatives, is to portray the former vice president as an eco-hypocrite. “An Inconvenient Truth,” of course, is what started all the brouhaha.

First, there was the matter of his $30,000 annual energy bill, high enough to suggest he left the light on after leaving a room at least once in a while.

Then, there was that incident with the Patagonian toothfish served at his daughter’s wedding. Early reports pretty much had him slapping his expansive gut and saying “Extinction never tasted so good.” Well, this turned out to be bullshit. The restaurant has documents proving that the fish in question originated from a well-managed and sustainable population, and may have even liked the idea of being killed and fed to a fat rich hillbilly.

Stay tuned for a report of him parking his SUV on top of nest full of ducklings and draining oil all over them.

But is he a hypocrite? Yeah, probably. We all are to some degree and career politicians are more than most. But unless I’m missing something, shouldn’t a reasoned debate about global warming and the environment concern itself with science and facts rather than all this ad hominem neener-neenering?

Or perhaps not. After all, his wife Tipper was a total pain in the ass during her PMRC glory days. If he couldn’t persuade her to shut the fuck up, how is he going to get me to give up my two favorite pastimes, dynamite fishing and Styrofoam bonfires?

Give No Quarter

I usually enjoy being a bleeding-heart liberal. Showing concern for progressive issues makes me feel better about myself and expressing contempt for President Bush is downright fun. If I stand in front of the mirror and spew socially conscious affirmations at myself (“Yes Dave, you DO believe that the plight of the downtrodden is a real buzzkill”), I can walk out the door confident that I am an enlightened champion of all humankind.

Then I get panhandled.

If I were richer, I wouldn’t have to worry about people begging. I still wouldn’t give the bums any money, mostly because they would be nowhere to be found. I’d live in a neighborhood where a little police brutality goes a long way toward keeping the property values high. The only poor folks would be on the TV screen, half a world away, flashing cute toothless smiles as flies crawled around the corners of their mouths.

Instead, I approach the BART station at 24th and Mission where I am set upon by a surly alcoholic with psychiatric problems, a pant load, or both. The path of least resistance, and the one I invariably choose, is to avoid eye contact and pretend I don’t notice the scumbag shaking a paper cup at me with a few coins of primer change clanging around at the bottom.

This daily ritual makes me guilty not of only being a selfish bastard, but a cowardly one as well. If am so intent on hanging onto my money, I should least have the requisite pluck to say “Get a job, lumpen dude. Haven’t you read Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism? Neither have I, but I did take a peek at the Cliff Notes and so should you.”