Kid in Chair

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Metaphors can surprise you…at least in my head. They come to my mind quickly, often rivetingly.

And they linger.

That’s what happened last Monday at 8:30 a.m. when I saw my dentist pull out the broken three-tooth bridge from my back molars. Yikes!

Maybe it had something to do with the nitrous oxide I was inhaling. (Oh you bet I’ll do anything to make the dental experience more like a dream than a nightmare.)

The metaphor bloomed.

pontics

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This bridge, technically called two anchoring abutments with a single pontic, had been a part of me for more than 30 years. It’s traveled through the times of my life.

Now it was rubbish, discarded, tossed into a silver dental tray and whisked away a moment later by sterile hands.

I thought of all the meals I’d eaten with that bridge…

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Baby lamb chops grilled with a jerk spice and served with mango chutney in Jamaica…

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crab platterDungeness crab with saffron butter on a Barcelona boardwalk…

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Fricassee of chanterelle mushrooms in truffle oil in Bordeaux.

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Margaritaville-Conch-Fritters

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Conch fritters with a tangy aioli on the Caribbean seas…

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Caprese salads with aged balsamic on a Tuscan hilltop…

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pho

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Sizzling pho in clamoring Saigon…

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Peking Duck in China…

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Smoked dill salmon in Switzerland!

 

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Many thousands of dinners, many thousands of lunches and breakfasts. Jeez, that bridge has done its job of chewing my food and feeding me for a near lifetime!

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Yet more than simple sustenance, this dear bridge has supported me in tough times, too. How many tense moments have I ground away on those simulated molars? How much tension have they absorbed?

The challenges of parenthood, the inevitable conflicts with family members, even the rare spat with my adorable wife. Yes, the bridge took the brunt of those vise-grip jaws.

And even more than that do I owe to the worn out, cracked and cast-off bridge for it has been there during times of high anxiety and during days of very deep sadness, too, brought on by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Clamping down tight, holding on with all its might, supporting me in its inimitable way.

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Casual comfort it’s provided as well. The slippery tongue glides along the familiar grooves and contours of its outline, sliding across it broad surfaces, reassuringly an old friend.

Even the little food scraps where the occasional clutter of a popcorn kernel or a string of celery may find itself lodged are of immense security to me in times of uncertainty and apprehending confusion.

Clink! I hear again my ancient bridge drop into the sterile silver tray. I see again the dental assistant’s hand lift the tray and hurry from the operating theater. Where had she taken it I wondered? Where will it be burried without ceremony or simple memorial?

“Get a grip!” I said to myself. “Breathe some pure air without the laughing gas.” Come to your senses.

But my senses were clear enough to understand the import of what was happening to me on this Monday morning. The metaphor was pellucid. There was a transfer taking place, from the old to the new. From who I was to who I would become or where I would one day go.

It’s lucky that I am still able to be renewed. I will get a new single-pontic bridge in a few weeks. One body part out, a new body part in.

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But, someday, let’s be honest, my whole body will wear out.

Who can say just how many breakfasts or dinners from now that will be?

I know only that the metaphor arranged in my head in this dental chair is accurate. Things do fall apart, the center will not hold…to quote lines from an extended metaphor of time passing.

Yes, I know with certainty that one day I will stand upon another bridge entirely. I will have to traverse it by myself. Without a dentist to help me. Without a dental assistant to carry me. I alone will have to make that passage.

And when that does day come, I will refuse the nitrous oxide, I will ignore the metaphors that are sure to abound. I will, instead, embrace that beautific journey with my eyes wide open and cross the expanse to the other side.

 

 

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