It all started with an inadequate fix for a seven year crave.
If you lived anywhere in or near Rochester, Minn., in the 1990s to at least 2000, you know the reigning pizza joint was Mr. Pizza. Game room aside, its hand-tossed pizza was the stuff other pizzas stare at wistfully and wonder how some pizzas get all the luck. Soft crust, lots of cheese and some magic ingredient not available anywhere north of South Broadway. We ate there a lot back in the day, and if I think about that pizza too hard, even know, I'll wake up oozing toward second base with my pillow.
When I was in Roch last weekend I woke a little feeble-feeling after a night out on the town. My mom ordered us a pizza from, ta-DAH! Mr. Pizza. After all these years. "Do you care what kind?" she asked and I said "No mushrooms" and Fannie said "No mushrooms." Aside from putting mushrooms on a Mr. Pizza pizza, I would think it would be unfuckupable. That crust. That cheese. That mystery ingredient not found north of South Broadway.
It wasn't good. First of all, it was thin crust -- which I'm assuming is like diet pizza. All the flavor, 10 percent of the dough. Then, she had ordered one of the specials. A concoction named for an owner or a regular or dead film star, and this pie was like hamburger, green pepper and onions. Not necessarily a bad combo for the hand-tossed edition, but throw it on thin crust and frankly it's an insult to the VIP namesake. But I ate it. Because that is what you do with pizza: You shut up and you eat it and you like it.
But then the stupid mess, particularly the crunchy crust, knocked loose part of one of my molars. That hurt. Injury upon insult. I looked at the tooth in the shard had already turned to a dead shade and I could wiggle it with my tongue, which also hurt, so I stopped doing that.
A little background on my mouth: I'm short a tooth on the bottom right. This inch-ish gap has made me favor the left side when it comes to heavy chewing. The left side clearly wasn't up to the task and revolted by sacrificing one of its own. My dad, who is also missing Tooth 30, said he still eats on that side and it only hurts when he eats sharp foods and it wedges into his gums. Since we're in my mouth anyway, a sliver of one of my front bottom teeth came off while I was biting my nails a few days ago. So, yeah. If you're looking for me, I'm in the back yard with my face planted in the Calcium lick I just ordered from Amazon.
"I've never seen anything like this," my dentist said, looking at the X-ray of the fracture.
"Yay!" I said.
I love playing "Stump the White Coat."
"Are you going to hang it on your Wall of Fame?" I asked.
It didn't seem like he wouldn't.
The only thing I do not like about my dentist is that he has never invited me to a dinner party, and I suppose he never will. He. Is. Hilarious. Here's me, laid out, head back. He's knuckle deep in my mouth dead panning one liners and the only way to show my appreciation is by jiggling my stomach or making a sort of nasal honk. He did an entire monologue on slow dancing to the song "I'm Not In Love" by 10cc. "You could have one eye and three zits and the girls would still want to slow dance with you," he said. "Probably so they wouldn't have to look at you. ... We didn't have ProActive back then. Just skin-toned latex paint. You'd put it on your face with a two-inch roller brush."
Honk. Jiggle. Honk-honk.
"Can I keep the tooth?" I asked.
"Sure," he said. "I suppose you have a collection."
"I do," I said.
Or at least I do now, if two make a collection.
In the meantime he rammed a bunch of Novocaine into my gums, ripped out the loose part of the tooth and filled in the blank space with something that hardened quickly. Like Cement or a Bit O'Honey. We worked together to re-calibrate my bite. He handed me the partial tooth. It was a chunk the size of a pinky nail with red streaks on it.
"That's your blood," he said.
Some math: I now have 31 and a half of my teeth.