What's in a Name?


Yesterday, dawn began with Dawn.  Dawn is my hygienist and I had an early appointment with her at my dentist's practice.  She gave me a good report and said she'd see me in September.  This did not surprise me, but still, it was a relief that nothing needed to be scraped, filled, bridged, removed, or reconfigured.  Then I headed to the mall with my computer, which, for some reason, had basically quit on me.  I did not have an appointment at the Apple store, so I was resigned to waiting there all day to be helped.  The Apple store in the Mall (I hate going to the Mall) didn't open until 10, so I waited, dreading spending the rest of the daylight hours waiting for a helper to minister to my techno-frustration.

But a helper-person came out of the Apple store with a little device in her hand and began scheduling appointments for those of us waiting for the store to open.  I couldn't believe it.  She took down my information and said, "We'll send you a text when your appointment is ready."  I said, "I don't text."  She said, "Oh, well, just come on in about fifteen minutes from now."  I did.  Another young woman, named "Sunny," ran a bunch of tests and we figured out the problem was me.  I'm not going into that.  Suffice it to say that my morning appointments' timing corresponded with the names of the people with whom I would be dealing.  I'm just glad I didn't have a lunch reservation somewhere only to find out the waitstaff's name was "Nooner."

The rest of the day was fine and dandy.  I met my long-suffering wife at a local soccer match because some of her 9th graders were playing another group of 9th graders nearby.  After watching a flotilla of teenage boys kicking each other in the shins, wandering around aimlessly, and bonking the ball with their heads, I remain unpersuaded about the efficacy of soccer as a sport.  Waiting for something exciting to happen in a soccer match is like waiting for a politician to tell the truth.  So, after the game, I went from the ridiculous to the sublime; that is, a dinner date with my long-suffering wife.

A fine and glorious day, all in all.  A blessing every which way.

Molar Musings

I just got back from a checkup at my dentist's office. The hygienist said my teeth were looking good and needed minimal cleaning. My dentist checked her work and said everything was just dandy, so that was good. I told them that my nightly red wine wash was obviously working. They agreed, somewhat reluctantly. I asked if they had free bacon flavored mouthwash. No deal. But they laughed. All that plain vanilla cheer and professionalism made me nostalgic for the dentist I had when we lived in Georgia. He was funny. Irreverent. And excellent. We carried on conversations much like the one that follows, and I am not making this up. Dentist: "Well, John, time to get that filling taken care of." Me: "Might as well. No one's hurt me so far today. You might as well start it off." Dentist: "I've been dreaming of the opportunity to test your pain threshold. Are you good and numb now?" Me: "Yep." Dentist: "Too bad, I was hoping it would hurt a little bit, just for my amusement."

He begins poking around in my mouth.

Me: "Looks like you're catching up on your instruments. But I miss the chisel and 5-pound sledge hammer." Dentist: "Hmmm, I don't think I should have nicked that gray thingy in there. Say, John, did that hurt?" Me: "No, but I'm numb from my chest down." Dentist (aside to his secretary): "Oh, Margie, would you call my lawyer, please?"

He works around inside my mouth some more.

Dentist: "Hmmmm, I didn't think you would bleed quite that much. Interesting. A little more suction, Susie," he says to the hygienist assisting. Me: "I'm feeling faint. And I haven't even seen your bill yet."

And so on. It's fun having a noir dentist, and I miss him.


Deckwrecker Man

Years ago I wrote a column for Reader's Digest recounting my experience as "Jackhammer Man!," when I rented a jackhammer to dig out some concrete around our home in Roanoke, Virginia. As a little kid in my home town of Clinton, Iowa, I had watched a bunch of jackhammer men tear up the street in front of our house. They struck me as the ultimate in manhood and I always wanted to see what it was like to run a jackhammer. So I got my wish that summer day in Virginia. It took me about a week before my hands worked normally again. Now I have taken on a new role - "Deckwrecker Man!" In preparation for an addition being added on to the back of the Carenen Cottage, our extensive rear deck needed to be removed. I volunteered to do it to save money. A knowledgeable friend helped out with several tools unique to the task. The most prominent was five feet long with two prongs at the end, the width between them perfect for accommodating a joist. The idea was to insert the prongs under the deck planks and, with the base situated on the joist, leverage the planks up so they could be removed. The tool was called a "Deckwrecker," and it worked, along with other, smaller tools that, altogether, reminded me of my dentist.

It wasn't fast work, but it was steady, especially after I bought a 4-pound sledge hammer to assist in removing certain stubborn pieces not suitable for the Deckwrecker. Anyway, I got all the planks off last week despite losing time due to rain. Starting today, I'm going after the multiple 2x8 joists and other underpinnings. Problem is, there is no special tool, outside of explosives, to remove those significant elements. I also lack a strategy for taking on the big pieces.

Maybe I'll call my dentist. Stay tuned.


Cover, Causes, Conundrums and Credits

I promised you that I would soon have my book cover available, and that is now the case. If you want to see what the book will look like, go to and click on the "Titles" spot, scroll down a little and look for me on the right. I also now have my editing "suggestions" to address, but the publisher had very few suggestions, so I should have it all back to them this week. I also promised to offer to you the first chapter soon, and that will be coming before much longer. This post is a potpourri of ideas that jump into my warped brain. For example, surely you have watched news programs that cover fires and plane crashes and car wrecks. Often, they wonder out loud about the "cause" of any of these, and then dribble on and on about what might have been behind the problem. This makes me wonder why they can't be candid and concise. Cause for plane crashes? Gravity. Cause for fires? Heat. Cause for automobile accidents? Physics.

When we lived in Macon, Georgia, the telephone book had this listing under government offices: "Gun permits/Marriage Licenses." I am not making this up. Those departments were in the same office in the Bibb County Courthouse. This was brought to mind as I was looking for a bidness in the Greenville, South Carolina phone book where I noticed that "Demolition" and "Dentist" were on the same page. In more ways than one.

Finally, at the end of movies there is an unending trail of credits to people who were involved in making the movie. Sometimes I watch to get an idea of what it really takes to make a movie and why it's so expensive. Lots of people have to be paid. Anyway, the role I would like to have someday would be the "gaffer." I don't know what a real gaffer does, and I don't want to know. But I see the gaffer as an old fart with a stubby cigar in his teeth, a weathered derby propped back on his bald head, three-day whiskers, and a brown paper bag in a pudgy hand. I could do that.