Friday Night Clam Bake – #22: The Truth of the Tyrannical Tooth

Another tainted nugget from the Bonnywood Archival Mines…

Hey, folks. Short and chemically sweet this time, just a video and a few words…

I’ve babbled about this song before, although I’m not sure if I’ve shared the actual video. In any case, I really like the brief lyrics, a statement about the working class bearing the burden of the indiscretions of the upper class. (Sound familiar? Sure it does. Of course, this age-old burden now smells like Cheetos.)

The song is part of the soundtrack for Giorgio Moroder’s 1984 “re-imagining” of Fritz Lang’s classic 1927 silent movie, “Metropolis”. Moroder basically added a then-modern score to an edited version of Lang’s much-longer original. (Some critics were not fond of Moroder’s tinkering, but when are all the critics happy? Never.) Both versions of the movie are captivating, albeit for somewhat different reasons. Seek them out, should you feel moved to do so.

A little over 24 hours ago, I was captive as well, for yet another reason. I had to undergo a semi-emergency root canal, and this song popped into mind during my incarceration in the Dental Chair of Death. I wasn’t sure why, but I loopily sang along anyway, much to the chagrin of the dentist and a cadre of technicians who kept advising me that this was no time for Broadway showtunes.

Having just reviewed this video before taking pen to paper, so to speak, I think I can see how I got from A to B during my adventure in dentistry. My thoughts, randomly arranged:

The grinding machinery at the beginning of the video speaks darkly of invasive dental drills, shrouded in a blurry fog induced by the giant harpoon of Comfortably Numb that the dentist rammed through my gumline and into my skull, possibly through the actual operating chair as well. I felt like a specimen pinned to somebody’s Victorian butterfly-collection in 1893.

The repeated clock images represent the endless eon I spent flat on my back while people did things with one of my orifices. (And did you notice one of the clocks is missing two numbers? I lost a few hours of time as well, somewhere in there.)

The spewing from the metal pipes is a stand-in for those damn water-squirters and mini-vacuums that were constantly stretching the limits of my lips, along with the hands of what I assumed to be the entire population of Cleburne, Texas, including the livestock. (Am I hearing the mooing or am I doing the mooing?)

The March of the Completely Dehumanized Workers is a symbol of my absolute fear of making my way to Exam Room Number 5, per the heinous instructions of the overly-chirpy tour guide named Barista or some such. (“Wait right here and the doctor will be with you in just a few minutes!” This statement is always a lie.)

The Worker’s City Below the Surface of the Earth reminded me of working for Verizon. This has nothing to do with root canals (well, perhaps figuratively) but is more a flashback to the bitterness I cannot release. In the video, we spend a lot of time in the Underground City. I spent a lot of time at Verizon. Coincidence?

The huge number of windows on the massive housing projects represent the various ways in which insurance providers can divert your claim in a manner that allows them to not pay for the work that you need done. (Me: “But it says right here in my policy that you pay 80% on a root canal.” Claims Dominatrix: “Yes, but not on Tuesdays and Thursdays or if the walls in the dentist office are painted beige.”)

In the fancy city for the rich, above ground, where they are doing all those odd calisthenics and running odd races, I’m that one guy who is gaily clapping for no apparent reason. That would be the death-spear narcotics hitting their zenith in my system. (“I feel pretty, oh so pretty…”)

The people actually running the races? That would not be me, because I don’t run unless something is chasing me, and even then I would have to think about it. But I probably would take off my shirt, just like all those pancake-faced actors are doing as they pretend that they know anything about athletics. Because it’s really hot in here. There are too many people in this little room and too many fingers in my big mouth. And cows. I still haven’t located the source of the mooing. Wait, are those walls beige or taupe?

That last title card in the video: “Other diversions were to be found in the Eternal Gardens of Pleasure” That would be the painkiller prescriptions that Barista handed me as I stumbled out the door. Blessed be. I’ll be singing showtunes once again, before too long, probably in the parking lot of my local pharmacy. I just hope that no one minds I’m not wearing a shirt. Or any degree of shame. (Suspicious Panhandler on the sidewalk leading to said pharmacy: “Say, buddy, you got any loose change? I need a operation.” Me/Patti LuPone: “I don’t have any cash on me. I gave it all to the dentist. But I do have a cow in my SUV, if you’re interested.”)


Previously published, modified somewhat for this post. Story behind the opening photo: Another tabletop at Miguel’s Mex Tex Café in Abilene, Texas…

29 replies »

  1. I recently had a root canal, and your analogy is spot on. After all that brushing and flossing, I still get stuck with that damn door prize. Yikes. I would love to go to a dentist and have her say, “your teeth are in excellent condition! And so clean! No dental work for you today.” Aww, pipe dreams.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m perhaps jinxing myself by sharing such, but right after this wretched incident, I got very serious with my dental routines. My process? First, some firmly-gentle blasting with a WaterPik, followed by two cycles on my Sonicare electric toothbrush, and then some final clean-up with a traditional toothbrush for those tricky places that the Sonicare can’t reach. It takes a good 15 minutes for the whole drama to play out every time I brush, but I’ve actually gotten glowing reviews from my dentist ever since, for a solid couple of years now. It takes dedication, but I’d much rather do THAT than get harpooned to the chair…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! I did add an electric toothbrush and a Waterpik a year ago, and to be fair, the trouble with that tooth pre-dated those acquisitions (treatment was delayed by COVID). But I will persevere with that routine! You have given me hope … 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m blessed with perfect teeth and haven’t been to the dentist since I was 20. That was when a drill wielding maniac in a badly tailored white coat told me I needed two wisdom teeth removed. 37 years later? Me and my complete set of wisdom teeth are just fine. (As are my appendix and tonsils. They’re MY body parts, and I’m going to keep them.)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have had a root canal done. By the time I left that chair, my face looked as if I had gone rounds with every prize winning boxer written in the pages of sport history. Swollen and purple no one wanted to believe I had a root canal. Everyone I passed asked who I had fought with and who came out the better because it sure didn’t appear it was me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right? We look like we’re in the midst of some form of domestic abuse, but no, we just went to the dentist. And have you experienced the joy of the lip-splitting angle? That result is not surprising, considering all that crap they shove in your mouth at one time, but still, you would think they could come up with a less-invasive way to do what they need to do… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • A millions years or so ago as a teen, I had the dreaded braces. When it came time for them to be removed the orthodontist began working. He actually cut my lower lip open with his wire cutters, simply handed me a tissue and kept working. I do believe it was that moment when my fear of dentists was planted.
        I’ve sat in the chair of terror while the worked and had them stop and tell me, ‘you need to breathe’ I had tensed up to the point I was no longer taking any breaths at all. I guess blue isn’t my color.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. All this from a trip to the dentist. This requires me to overthink the dental chair way too much. I have had too many root canals and other very unpleasant dental procedures so I am shutting those thought down immediately. I only want to remember my last cleaning where the technician made a point to tell me that I take good care of my teeth… let’s just say I enjoy being able to eat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And as with most things, if we had really listened to folks around us (who had any degree of competence) in our younger decades, we often wouldn’t be in the mess we are in today. I completely avoided trips to the dentist for a very long time, implicit in my own denial of the necessity for such. Once I returned to the dental-hygiene fold? It took a year and a half to get everything back in order, with a personal financial wallop that was over 10k, POST-insurance. Now? I make sure my butt is in that horrid chair every three or four months, because I never want to get that out of whack again. I get the rave reviews from the technicians at this point, but it was an expensive lesson that got me there…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My worst root canal was the one the specialist did trying to save the tooth. So I ended up with a root canal and then the extraction by my regular dentist. And, of course, I paid handsomely for two procedures (no insurance).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Luckily, this incident occurred some time ago, and I learned my lesson, as much as my stubbornness can allow. But I would still happily welcome Patti LuPone and a handful of painkillers into Bonnywood at any time… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have good teeth and bad eyes–an optometrist once told me that good teeth and good eyes are rarely found in the same person. Intriguing video; I think the soundtrack would benefit from a David Bowie baritone taking the lead vocal over the chorus. J.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There might be some validity to that teeth/eyes angle. In my younger days, my vision was crystal-clear but my teeth were wretched. These days? I finally managed to get my dental situation under control (this post is actually from several years back) but my vision is shockingly not-good. I have to ask the waitress to walk twenty feet away and hold up the menu before I can actually read it…


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