The Streets of San Francisco: Epilogue

They spelled it “epilog” on the TV show, but I can’t do that. It looks too fucked up.

My dental appointment had a butt-rock soundtrack. When I was in the area where they do x-rays, I was treated to “Jukebox Hero” by Foreigner. When they moved me to where I’d have my cleaning and exam done, I heard the dulcet tones of Whitesnake. It was the famous song, the one with the video where Tawny Kitaen twerked on the hood of a Camaro. Maybe the car wasn’t a Camaro, but the song made me remember that it was. Music can be a powerful thing.

Then again, so can Tawny Kitaen. Even though she was just one more thing that made “The New WKRP in Cincinnati” a complete pile of shit, she has managed to impress me. I am of course referring to that time when her life imitated an Eric Stanton illustration and she viciously attacked her husband with her stiletto heel. Her spouse/victim, a professional baseball player, may have been a pitcher on the field, but I’m guessing he was a catcher when it came to Tawny whether he liked it or not. Good for her.

“Purple Haze” was the next song to play, which was an improvement. The radio station tuned to at the dentist office, 107.7 The Bone, was a mixed bag at best despite their self-proclaimed devotion to classic rock. It was only a matter of time before Quiet Riot or its ilk came out of the speakers.

Dr. G, the dentist who owns the practice, is likely responsible for the music selection. He is older than I am, ten years give or take, and sports a full beard with longish hair he doesn’t bother putting into a ponytail. The posters on the walls of the office show a taste in music that is similar, but not identical, to what’s in heavy rotation on The Bone. The festoonery included The Grateful Dead and Santana. Foghat would not be completely out of place there, but Def Leppard would.

I had been meaning to see Dr. G at some point because it had been a year and I noticed a cavity forming in one of my molars. The schedule got pushed up when a piece of the tooth right above it broke off on my last morning in Portland.

“What were you eating when your tooth broke?” he asked, expecting an answer even though he had at least one dental instrument in my pie hole.

“Collard greens, pork, and blackened catfish,” I said as best I could. I didn’t notice the broken tooth until after I had finished the contents of the to-go box, so I listed everything in it. In retrospect, it probably sounded like I shoved it all in my mouth in one go.

“Mm,” he said, evidently able to understand my reply. He didn’t have any reaction to what I said, nor would I have expected any even if I answered “gravel and explosives.” It was the same he asked about my discolored teeth on a previous appointment. The information was received and quietly stored in his internal encyclopedia of ruined mouths.

I found his demeanor comforting. I had a dentist in the past who used to shame me for my inadequate attention to dental hygiene then bully me into buying some pricey accessory. Dr. G doesn’t do that. He fixes what’s broken and moves onto the next patient.

The only thing that made me nervous was the tooth itself. I didn’t want a root canal, or worse, an extraction. I had two teeth pulled a couple of years ago. Fortunately, my bite remains more or less intact. If I lost any more teeth, there was a real risk of the remaining ones meshing like gears, leaving me saddled with a jack-o’-lantern smile and an all-pudding diet.

When Dr. G told me I needed a crown for the broken tooth, I was elated.

He is a good dentist. My mouth is in better shape when I leave his office than when I walk in the door. I certainly couldn’t do what he does for a living. I am too absent-minded, too accident-prone. When I make a mistake at work, the code change can be reverted. That’s harder to do with a drill or extraction pliers.

As for his taste in music, mine differs but I think I get it. When I was younger, I used to scoff at 60s throwbacks stuck in time with their hippie bullshit. Then I got older and realized that the music that resonated with me at a certain time would continue to more than the music came later. It doesn’t mean the more recent stuff is any worse, it’s just unlikely to affect me on the same level.

So good on Dr. G for running a rock-and-roll dentist office. I do the equivalent with the punk rock that pours out of my ear buds at work.

I do wonder if having his favorite songs, wheat in the MTV-era chaff coming out of the radio, is enough for him. Is he content to be a listener or does he yearn to make music himself? It’s not my place to ask him so I’ll probably never know.

The reason I’m curious is that I have my own pipe dreams to contend with. Not making music, I realize my lack of talent in that area. I stick to writing, but the music that speaks to me also gives me things to say. I’m a competent software engineer, but if that’s all I wanted to be then life would lose much of its charm. I like to dream, perhaps not big, but at least beyond.

There are those who really can have it all. A prime example is Deniz Tek, an emergency-care physician and former Navy flight surgeon who is also lead guitarist for Radio Birdman. Of course, few of us get to be a real-life Buckaroo Banzai. We do what we can with the cards we were dealt.

For me, that means filling this blog with my claptrap and occasionally self-publishing an eBook. Every reader is a small victory. That means you. Thank you.

Maybe Dr. G chases his own dreams. Maybe when he gets home, he wraps a bandana around his head Tommy Chong style, picks up an electric guitar, and blows out every eardrum in a twenty-yard radius. I think I’d like that. I think I’d like that a lot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *