I Have No Gums, And I Must Scream

I just got off the phone with my wife. We talked a lot about the shit I didn’t do today, but this time she sounded good-natured about it.  She even said I could take the last Ativan.

Anyone who NEEDS Ativan in order not to run a giant hole into your wall with not just your fist, but your whole body, like in that fucking Ah-Ha video (horrible band that should die and thankfully has not been heard from for years, but I did hear a rumor that classically trained musicians are teaching it as basic theory which means the world will have no more music in the next two decades if we don’t watch ourselves) where the guy is trying to get out of a comic book by slamming himself against the panels, but you didn’t do that, you just made a big inexplicable hole in your wall- knows that this is a sign that the person living with you likes you.

I hope that made sense. Someone should jump me posthaste if that was a grammatical massacre. You’d better know your P from your Q if you fuck with me, though.

Anyway, the last thing I asked her was if I could have a beer. She says yes.

Yes! Beer. Miller High Life, but beer. Some things are too important to bother with as far as quality goes and you just need the beer.

Did I get my beer? Oh, yes I did. But for some reason, I felt the need to expiate the neglect of my teeth before I did that.

I smoke. I smoke a lot. I will smoke your shoelaces if it makes me feel better. What’s fucking hilarious about this is that the last physician I saw had said I had a clean bill of health and that my lungs sounded fine.

I think I thought at the time: I cannot be killed. Neat. Why this thought comforts me after smoking for 25 years in an effort to die, is a question for…well, some goddamn person in the health field. I’m going to hazard a guess and say that this is listed under bipolar disorder. It is probably under schizophrenia and dementia, but here I am talking to you all from a keyboard. Now if I were schizophrenic, I would tell you my keyboard is talking to me. If I were demented, I would tell you I was peeling a grapefruit. Thankfully, I know what I am doing. Actually, what I am doing is letting my beer get warm and this beer is shit, so I better hurry up and say something meaningful before-

OK, the beer is down. Whew.

What brought me to the bottom of this beer? Do I even know anymore? As Hunter Thompson once asked, have I degenerated to the level of a dumb beast, no longer able to communicate? I will do what Dr. Gonzo would tell me to do, because I am not going to fuck with a Samoan with a gun the size of a dumbbell with butter all over him. I will have another beer. Thank goodness he is a fictional character. I am very sad that Oscar Acosta is no longer with us. Hunter already told that story, but you didn’t read it, did you? He’s fucking dead and I hate you.

So, my gums are holding some stain from these years of tobacco. I look at them every day, and they are dirty little 38 year-old tombstones wondering when I am going to clean them off. I have an immense respect for the dead, so I study them daily.

There was this one time in the Army where I got lost in my face, and it was embarrassing as hell even though I won Soldier Of The Cycle for my utter nerdiness. I fucking squeezed about 15 blackheads out of my face, and went out to train some more. What do I hear? Laughter. Derision. Because I wanted my face to be cleaner.

How strange these things are to me today.

Nine years later, I was thrown out of the Army for having listened to a desk-bound ex-Sergeant Major tell me he had a dead son from the Afghani war. That was the end of my career, because I had a natural reaction.

I cried. A lot. I went all Harvey Keitel, naked after chasing the dragon (that movie, for whatever reason, is very hard to get from your usual video purveyors. I do not understand why. Instead, you get Nicolas Cage, who is no substitute for Mr. Keitel in any universe I am currently aware of.  I guess jerking off in front of a car full of teenagers is out of fashion).

Anyone who has been in the Army knows this is a breach of protocol. Crying, that is. No one has told the Army since its inception in the late 18th century that crying is a natural reaction to seeing death. I can’t explain this, and I will not. Shit, Stephen Crane wasn’t even there and he got the story straight.

I have become a dumb beast again.

Excuse me.

None of this has anything to do with why I just brushed my teeth so fucking hard that I almost cried again.

Your toothbrush, to put it mildly, is not your friend. Yet every time a dentist hands it to you before you leave his office, you say “Thanks for the free shit!” and you head home.

Your dentist is fully aware that you are an asshole and will not use the implement correctly. That is why he gives you one every time he sees you, in the hopes that you will figure it out before your fucking mouth looks like one of his posters. He doesn’t put that shit up because he likes it. I may have just lied, because I do not know any dentists anymore, thanks to shitty after-care from giving nine years of blood to an organization that chews up men like a wood chipper that has decided you are not its owner and begins to run around your work space, looking for trees to chew up by itself because it is not satisfied with the twigs your underpaid ass feeds it.

So, you basically say, I have to do this shit myself. I’m supposed to be relaxing, but am going to fuck up my mouth instead. I am insane. I do not care.

I began with regular toothpaste. This shit doesn’t work unless you are already handsome. You are secretly gay, and I don’t mind.

I have more sinister plans for my teeth. I begin brushing with Listerine, thinking the alcohol will kill all the germs and that will be the end of that. That probably works. But:

These fucking teeth are still brown at the edges. These fucking face-dwelling shitfucks remain brown after all we have been through. I would like to pull them out and wash them instead of the dishes.

Never yell at your teeth. All they will do is sit there.  Try it in a mirror.

Time to bust out the heavy guns. No wait…time to make like Marathon Man’s captor.

I begin pushing the little bristles of my toothbrush between them. Talk about ouch! Yeeeee-ouch!!!!!

What the fuck am I doing to myself? Last time I checked, some asshole was telling me to move it in a circular motion, and then the teeth get clean. I am supposed to relax and have a beer, but god-damn it all, me and my teeth will have an OK Corral showdown even if I lose the draw before I sit my stupid ass down and relax.

The teeth don’t give a fuck. Fucking teeth. I did NOT invite these fuckers in my head. Last I remember, I fucking cried when they showed up.

It’s time for Arm and Hammer to get busy. That, hydrogen peroxide, the brush between my teeth, my gums telling me they would like to rent space in someone else’s mouth, the whole thing. If I die during this rinse, I am taking you motherfuckers with me. Normally, that is how death works, I think. The teeth finally leave, I don’t know what they do and I do not care.

I am finally “brushing my teeth”. But why? All I want is a beer. The pain was unendurable.  The bloody but stubborn gums were fucking pissed about being sent into the breach like this, but I am obsessed. I push the brush between my teeth like I am setting screws into a wall. Holy fuck, this is awful. I spit. I drool. I get misty. I look at my face. I am unshaven, without a shower, doing battle with my own survival mechanisms. What the fuck world did my mother bring me into that a bunch of enamel would give me a guilt complex as I near forty?

She’d better come up with an answer soon. Because I am halfway to dead, and no one is around to give me any advice about how to drink a beverage before I spend a half an hour still being that guy in the service who just wanted his face to be cleaner.

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  1. I really like your writing! I don’t share a lot of stuff i write because i’m still too concern with what others think. i like your stories within a story. keep writing!

  2. Suzie, I have two open invitations for you. You may write here, with unedited content and all I will do is shine up the presentation and ask if you are happy with it before I publish.

    Alternately, if you have a blog or start one, I will immediately link and support you and send you to Facebook whether my fucking friends like it or not. Send me a note on Facebook telling me if this is OK. Otherwise, keep coming to see me and I thank you for reading every word.

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