Thursday, July 17, 2008

Chompers


I always get depressed when someone asks me, “If you were a superhero, what power would you have?” I would choose invisibility, but not so I can go into the women’s locker room and spy on naked girls. I would use my power to disappear at work and watch the reaction of people when they walked into Lakeshore Entertainment. “Good God,” they would think, “There is no receptionist!” But this scenario only gets me thinking about how if I really did disappear, it wouldn’t really make that much of a difference anyway, and I’d probably be docked a vacation day. This makes me disheartened.

But the biggest reason I get depressed is because I already do have a superpower, it’s just not very good. No, it’s not flight, super strength, incredible flexibility, or even the ability to summon fire with my bare hands. It’s much more mundane than any of that. I have what dentists refer to as “Teeth of Steel.”
Now, I’ve never actually heard a dentist use this term when referring to my teeth, but I’m pretty sure my super chompers have come up more than once in casual dentist conversation, probably during an all-dentist poker game or something of that ilk. “My patient,” my dentist would say, eyeing his cards, “He’s got teeth like I’ve never seen before. Teeth of Steel, I’d say.”

Like most superheroes, the discovery of my super power was by accident... accidentally not brushing my teeth before bed for over ten years. As soon as I got into college I thought, “Why brush at night when my breath will just smell bad in the morning, and I have to brush my teeth all over again?” I also didn’t floss. I had never flossed, and the thought of picking up something like that when I was well into my late teens seemed like a desperate kowtow to authority. Mouthwash? Forget it.

I didn’t go to the dentist for ten years either. At first, it was because I was lazy. Then it was because I didn’t have insurance. And then it was because I was frightened of getting yelled at by a dentist for not going for so long, and I was afraid of what they may actually find nesting in my mouth. (Remember, I didn’t know I had Teeth of Steel.)

I had some teeth pain during those years, but nothing too major, and my gums only bled if touched. You know how they say plaque is invisible? Well, not after ten years.

Eventually, I decided if anyone was ever going to love me again I needed to get rid of my earrings and get a dentist to clean my teeth.

“Wow,” my dentist told me during my first exam in over a decade, “You only have two small cavities.” Yes, after ten years I only had two small cavities. Sure, my teeth would have eventually fallen out from gum disease, but they would be strong teeth with no fillings, teeth that would last for an eternity. After a nuclear war there will be only cockroaches and my teeth.

Alas, I haven’t saved any lives with my super power. But I’m happy to report that I’ve been brushing my teeth regularly twice a day for the last few years. I even floss nightly. My teeth look good, but I know that somewhere out there is a toothless super villain out to destroy my Teeth of Steel. And until the day we meet and do battle, I’ll continue to disguise myself as plain old Nathan Jordan, mild-mannered receptionist.

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