I woke up in my bed
at home. This is usually a good sign, because it means I didn't wake up in a gutter
the floor of anybody's bathroom. My tooth
was still missing.
A thin layer of dried blood
covered my lips, and memories drifted back, unbidden, of strobe lights and
speakers, and a hundred swinging fists.
I walked downstairs to make breakfast, and saw that my mother
was awake on the couch.
Shit. Best to get this over with.
"Morning," I said.
"What happened to your tooth?" she asked.
"I misplaced it," I said, walking past her to the kitchen.
"You realize we don't have dental insurance, right?"
I started making a sandwich
"This is coming out of your pocket!" she yelled.
"Thanks, mom, how about an 'Oh honey, are you okay?'" I asked, spreading mustard on my bread.
$750 and a root canal
later, I still wasn't much closer to having a smile anyone with a family tree that branches
would be proud of. The dentist
estimated he could fix my tooth for $1400.
Now, a funny thing about the geography of Southern California
is that Mexico
is really, really
is a wonderful place where all manner of things can be obtained cheaply or illegally. I happened to live
not far from this wonderful place, and decided to take a risk.
The only real problem with my plan was the fact that I don't speak Spanish
, but I managed to communicate my
problem with liberal
use of hand gestures and the few words of Spanish I could recall from elementary school.
"It will be very expensive," Dr. Trujello explained.
"How much?" I asked.
"One hundred fifty dollars," he stated.
I booked an appointment for Thursday.
I half expected to have a wooden tooth nailed into my gum for what I was paying, but saving $1250 appealed
to my Jewish
heritage enough to take the risk.
Things did not go entirely as planned.
I was sitting in the chair, as an assistant tried to remove the temporary replacement that they had put in
until the final could be made. She attempted to gently coax the plastic
tooth out, with no success. Thirty minutes
later, we had progressed to pliers, and her muttering things which I didn't understand, but probably shouldn't
repeat in polite company.
With one last groan, she gave up, and attempted to explain the problem to me, an act which was complicated by our
lack of common linguistic ground. Eventually, she communicated to me that someone used the permanent glue instead of
the temporary glue.
Flustered, she told me to come back the next day. She pulled out the schedule book, and started writing my name over
the frowny face with "NO MAS!" written under it, and underlined in triplicate.
"Look," I said, "It's okay. Let's do it when you aren't busy. Really, it's okay."
I pointed at what I was fairly sure meant "Tuesday
They finally got the temporary tooth out, but a mix-up had occured at the lab, and it would take another four hours
until my final replacement could arrive. Not being worth the time to drive home and then drive back, I decided to
have an adventure
I took the opportunity to indulge in lunch, and the accompanying two for one margarita
specials. I still had three
hours left to kill. I decided to go exploring off the beaten path, and turned down a narrow dirt road.
And so it was that I found myself in the whorehouse district of Tijuana, drunk, in the middle of a police raid,
with no front tooth.
I quickly realized that I was not where I wanted to be as the men standing in dark
doorways called out to me,
asking if I liked women and motioning for me to come inside. I kept walking, but more and more of them tried to talk
to me, becoming more aggressive, one even going so far as to grab me while his buddy blocked my path. I pushed past
and kept walking. I quickened my pace, turned the corner, and found myself face to face with a barricade of police
with automatic weapons
drawn in front of me. Intuition told me that this was probably not an ideal
situation. Mentally, I inventoried my bribe
money supplies, and realized that I didn't have any money left aside
from the money I needed to pay for the tooth. Guess I could only hope for the best. I crossed my fingers and walked,
in the most non-threatening manner possible, past the police line. Nobody stopped me.
I looked up and saw the silver arch in the distance, and decided it was time to head back. They restored my tooth, I
paid the bill, and I left. I haven't been back since