Brush Your Fucking Teeth, Kids

Filed under : Happy Stories

Story 107 of 365

Est. Reading Time 7 minutes

I cannot stress enough, in my advanced age, the importance of brushing your teeth. You can floss, too, if you’d like. And carry mouthwash in your car, as I’ve been doing for years. But, nothing does as much preventative care as simply brushing your teeth at least once a day. If you’re paranoid, do it before you go to bed and then again when you wake up. If I had kids, that would be the number one thing I would impart on them : take care of your fucking teeth. Teeth are instantly judgmental above all things — people will judge your social status, your intelligence, your net worth, and your shadiness just based on your teeth. That includes people like me who had (and kinda still have) shitty teeth.

That out of the way, my shitty teeth play an important part in the larger story about the two greatest human beings I’ve ever met. I just can’t tell that larger story without the context of my shitty teeth. In fact, what inspired today’s story is that I have — right now, as I write this — nearly-crippling tooth pain in one of my back teeth, and I called my friend and surrogate mother Melanie for help.

I met Melanie in Downtown Los Angeles. It would’ve been late 2003. I was still with the woman I left to move to Florida and then came back 3 days later, and I was meeting with a client in Downtown LA. I feel like I could make a separate entry (and still might) about both this client, and this meeting. It was the first time I saw what my dad always claimed about Italian discrimination. I was sat in a board room where everyone had name placards. When we sat and they saw my last name “Marzoni”, one guy asked “that’s Italian, right?” and another guy said “of COURSE it’s Italian!” and I laughed, “yeah yeah… definitely Italian” and sat while a group of rich old white men made a series of Sopranos jokes. That was the first (and, surprisingly, last) time in my life that I felt discriminated against because of my last name.

After the first meeting, my client had to meet with another group that had nothing to do with the website and brochures I’d been making — and would continue to make — for them. They said “go get lunch, soak up the city!” and handed me $40 for lunch.

I walked down the street a bit until I found a little complex that contained some shops and a food court. The center of the complex 1on 7th & Fig if you care and/or know the area was on the street level, but there was 1 floor above and one below. When I looked one floor up, I saw a sign for “Esthetic Dentistry”. Being the curious type, and feeling in a good enough mood to be told to go fuck myself (cause I was poor, you see) I went on up to see what they offered. I walked into this immaculate reception area and the lady at the front desk asked “how can I help you?”. I told her I was just curious about their options for someone like me and my horrible teeth. When she asked me to show her said teeth, it was the first time in years that someone didn’t gasp out loud, but instead said “okay, okay… I see what you’ve got going on there. I could give you a few options”. I wasn’t even sure why she was bothering to walk me through the options — it would be painfully clear to anyone else that I wouldn’t have the money for any operations they provided — but she walked me through a few ideas anyway.

After our brief talk, I said “okay, I guess this is the place I’ll go when I make my millions”. She laughed and said “and what’s your plan for making millions?”. I was making the remark out of humor, on my way out the door, but I went ahead and replied “well… hopefully stand-up comedy, but right now I’m mostly doing web design”. Her eyes lit up. “Oh! stand-up comedy? My husband is doing this radio gig and he could use a funny guy to liven up the show. Do you have a business card or something?”. I handed her my card, made a bit of small talk, and wandered out. I expected, at best, her lame-ass husband would call me a few days later and try to talk me into making his shitty radio show “hip” and “young”, but “not too edgy”, and I’d feel insulted and we’d never talk again.

This is one of those moments where I’m admitting I’ve been a judgmental prick in an ironic moment of trying to avoid judgment. The headline here is : “Mitcz was a judgmental prick”, sub-headline : “Judges people and situations out of fear of same, is a pre-emptive dickhead about it”.

Now, I fully intend to tell (and have already started writing) an upcoming tale about Melanie and her husband Anthony. But, I don’t want to shoe-horn a story about two of my favorite people on earth into a story about my shitty teeth, even though the two are inextricably linked. Suffice it to say that, at some point, I did a number of design favors for Melanie and Anthony — websites, print design (a book cover), copy editing (the aforementioned book), logos, and still a few more websites and logos and even video editing years later. They have an endless line of credit with me, and I’ve more than emptied my credit line with them. For the purpose of this story, I’m skipping ahead to when Melanie got me in with the Esthetic Dentist himself, and my mom co-signed on a credit card for the sake of paying my dental bills.

Mitcz Meth Mouth. Minus the meth.After initial consultation, the dentist pulled me aside and said “I need to have a very serious, honest discussion with you. We have doctor-patient confidentiality, so you can be honest with me”. I thought he was gonna ask me about my sexual history, and almost blurted out “I don’t know, I’ve lost count!”, but instead he said “are you still using meth?”. This threw for a few loops. One : did I look like a meth addict? Two : did Melanie tell him I was a meth addict? Three : Did Melanie also think I was a meth addict? Four : seriously, how many people are going to ask me that question? He told me that my mouth looked like that of an addict. I told him “I promise, I’ll tell you every single drug I’ve ever done, in great detail. I have nothing to hide from you. But, I have never done meth”. In retrospect, this is what’s called “meth mouth”, and this is what my teeth looked like at the time. He had good reason to ask that.

My story is really stupid : I just drank a shit ton of soda, smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day, and was stupidly lazy about brushing my teeth. That’s it. Do that for — at the time — 12 years, and see where it gets you. A mouthful of rotten teeth is the answer.

The dentist — calling him Dr. M for this story — had a cool new technology. It was basically 3D printed teeth (even though it was 2004 and there was no such thing as 3D printing). He modeled teeth in a 3D application, based on x-rays and photos of my teeth, then sent them to this machine that would shoot high-powered blasts of water at resin models and shape them the way they were modeled in the program.

I had maybe 20 shots of novocaine in my mouth, so holding my lip was the only way to open my mouth at allI went into his office at 9am, hopped up on valium (doctor’s orders), and prepared for something like 6 hours of nonstop dental work. For a guy with a mouth full of pain, and a deadly fear of dentists, this was quite an undertaking. But, he was — as Melanie promised — a pain-free dentist. He let me bring in my own movies to watch on a flat-screen TV he had mounted in his office (which was tilted towards my view, so I pretty much only saw the TV and almost none of the dental shit going on), and I had headphones to listen to the movie and drown out the terrible sound of dental drilling. He had to drill every tooth down to a sharpened nub — I looked like “bat boy”, and took photos — on which he would place these new fancy teeth. And, goddamn, I watched this motherfucker model my teeth in 3D, then watched him come back in holding a new 3D printed tooth and saying “and this is for tooth number 4” (or whatever tooth number dentists use). I could feel heat, and see smoke, and smelled my own gums burning as he molded my mouth to fit this idealized 3D print he envisioned for my face.

In one single afternoon, my mouth went from “holy shit, this man is homeless” to “holy shit, our realtor is awesome” 2I was never a realtor — but I needed a “clean, safe, white guy” reference. Minus two yellow teeth he would be replacing on my next visit, my entire upper row of teeth was glistening white. Here’s the before / after shot.

From "meth mouth" to "fuck yeah mouth" in just 6 mouth-deadening hours

I hadn’t smiled in public for several years prior to that dental work. Today, people know me because I smile so much. I went into a great deal of debt to pay for that. I pissed off the dentist due to non-payment, years later, which means today’s tooth pain requires finding a new dentist. But, goddamnit, I still get compliments on these pearly awesomes. And there’s one person, above all, to thank for that : Melanie Clark — who’s also the person that made regular payments to the aforementioned dentist on my behalf and made him take my appointments while I was still paying off the original debt, and ultimately finished paying off my debt to him. My debt with that dentist has long since cleared, but my debt with Melanie, and her husband Anthony, will never be cleared in my eyes.

Now stop reading this and brush your fucking teeth.

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. on 7th & Fig if you care and/or know the area
2. I was never a realtor — but I needed a “clean, safe, white guy” reference