Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

April 3rd, 2008:

The Other Kind of Fifties Moment

The massive urban renewal project that is the inside of my mouth got into high gear again this morning, with what I call a three-p procedure: It took six hours, with three pee breaks, and (I am not exaggerating !) fifteen separate injections of local anaesthetic. Uggh. The surgeon removed my lower horseshoe, which has been in my mouth since September 2001, and cleaned up what damage had occurred during seven years in place. Two fillings had to be drilled out and replaced, and all the teeth had to be re-margined. One tooth, while not infected, had broken into three pieces underneath the horeshoe (probably due to my perpetual clenching and grinding during the night) and no longer has enough structure above the gum line to be retained. It will have to be pulled, and later this year (once the bone heals) an implant post will be put in place to carry the eventual crown.

So here I am at home, groggy on painkillers, watching out my window as a blizzard rages on the slopes of my mountain. What month is this again? We already have four inches out there and it's still coming down hard. A friend at church told us that this has been the wettest, coldest, longest winter he's seen the whole sixteen years he's lived here.

And tomorrow morning at 7, I go back for six more hours to accomplish a similar treatment on the uppers. Alas, the upper horeshoe is in pretty tight (a good thing, actually, for my teeth's sake these past seven years) and the surgeon will have to cut it out in chunks using diamond burrs. (I'll be tasting stainless steel for weeks.)

But to the story at hand: I asked the young dental surgical assistant if I could have the lower horseshoe back so I could put it on my curio shelf. She said sure, and asked what else I had on the shelf. I ran down the short-form list:

  • A horse vertebra.
  • A cow skull that wears my Lane Tech high school mortarboard.
  • A radio-controlled rat.
  • A Pope Benedict XVI bobble-head.
  • A stuffed squirrel that giggles when you press his tummy.
  • A meteorite fragment given me by Pete Albrecht.
  • A Giant Squid action figure.
  • A Tim-Bird ornithopter
  • My father's slide rule.

She smiled, nodded, and then asked, “What's a slide rule?”

I explained as best I could. I realized that this was the other kind of Fifties Moment; that is, when you realize that you're in your fifties and almost everybody else isn't. I ache for the day—though I will probably not live to see it—when graying Gen-Y fiftysomethings talk about their vintage gear collection, and some young punk asks, in all sincerity: “What's an iPod?”