SLOAN: There’s no Fixodent in Heaven
I’m about to share something with you – the 75,000-plus readers of Swartz Media’s three newspapers and whoever else might be reading this online – that I have shared with few, and I mean very few, people.
I wear dentures.
There it is. No more hiding it. No more reason to be embarrassed or self-conscious.
Does that sound silly? Dentures are not uncommon for someone with 60 years of living and eating their belts, right? Well I’ve worn dentures since my early 30s and I have been incredibly insecure about them ever since.
It’s not that I didn’t take care of my teeth, mind you, because I did. I lost my choppers, all of them, courtesy of Ted Skipper’s enormous elbow. It happened during a pick-up basketball game with all the fellas from work. Mike, the press manager, invited his big brother Ted to come along. Ted stood about 6-3 and easily tipped the scale at 220-plus. He was definitely a big brother.
At some point in the game I decided to try out my best Steph Curry moves, dodging my way through defenders in hopes of making an easy layup. The ball left my hands and headed for the rim. That’s all I remember. Ted’s elbow came crashing down on my mouth and I crumbled to the floor.
After being helped up from the court, I made my way to the bathroom to assess the damage. When I parted my lips, the image in the mirror looked like an assortment of tilted and chipped Chiclets. Not good.
Based on the assessment of two dentists, both of whom said I had too many teeth damaged and that it would be wise to simply have them all removed, I made the painful decision to resign myself to a life with fake teeth.
The emotional pain was worse than the physical. I had long held a deep fear of dentures as a result of reaching into my mom’s pocketbook as a kid. She wore dentures and would often put her lowers in her pocketbook for safekeeping. If my brother and I asked for a dollar, she would tell us to go get her purse. I still remember feeling around in there and the gross feeling that swept over me as I snatched a handful of teeth. I swore I would never, ever wear dentures.
Life is funny and a bit ironic sometimes, isn’t it?
I remember a fellow Marine buddy named Greg Gulla. We called him Gooch. Gooch was in his early 20s but wore dentures thanks to a bad motorcycle accident. Anyway, a few other jarhead chums and I thought it would be funny if we swiped Gooch’s teeth from his wall locker and hid them. We did this several times and each time Gooch would transform into a stark-raving lunatic, swearing up and down that he would hunt down and inflict seriously bodily harm on the culprit or culprits. I couldn’t understand why he got so mad. Now I get it. Boy, do I.
If something were to happen to my dentures now, I suspect you would not see me for a while. I would not and could not walk out in public without my teeth. No way, no how. My greatest fear is that I would lose them (sounds crazy, but if you knew how bad I am at misplacing things) on Sunday morning just before I had to preach. A nightmarishly funny visual, I know.
The first time I brought my daughter, Amanda, to meet my second wife, Kelly, one of the first things out of that sweet little 12-year-old mouth was “My daddy wears dentures.” I wanted to crawl under the couch.
I courageously decided to share all this with you for a reason. I recently lost a good friend and congregant at one of the churches I serve. He had been dealing with numerous health issues for sometime. I went to visit him and some of his family members in the hospital shortly before his death. While there, we chuckled at a funny memory of him yelling at a rehab center nurse about the fact that he couldn’t get up and walk because he didn’t have all of his toes. My friend had lost several of his “piggies” due to peripheral artery disease brought about by Type-2 diabetes.
Another family member responded, “Well, I’ll bet he’s dancing in heaven now,” referring to the belief that we all get new bodies as a perk for being citizens of God’s Eternal Kingdom.
A few moments later his daughter lamented the fact that her dad had all of his teeth removed and was scheduled to get fitted for his new dentures just before he was admitted to the hospital.
“I had hoped he would get better,” she said. “I planned on coming over to his house and grilling him a steak so that he could eat it with his new teeth.”
I sympathized with her for a moment and then an odd though crept into my mind.
So if we get new bodies when we enter Heaven, does that mean all of us poor denture-wearing mortals will be blessed with a spanking new set of incisors, molars, canines and bicuspids? I’ve posed this peculiar inquiry to several of my pastoral brethren. Each, albeit with a good laugh, said they believe so.
What a relief! Do you know how much money I’ve spent on denture adhesive over the years?
Folks, I’m here to tell you there will be no Fixodent in Heaven. Can I get a Hallelujah?
Contact Editor Bob Sloan at editor@florence>