I woke up shortly after 6 am on the last morning of our vacation.
“Are you awake?” asked my wife softly.
“Yes” I replied.
My response was followed by four words from my wife that completely changed the trajectory of our last day of vacation.
“I have a toothache.”
Instead of leisurely packing and dawdling on our way home, we hurriedly packed and headed north. Dental emergencies are bad enough, even with your personal Dentist – the person the authorities would call if they were trying to identify a mangled corpse they suspected might be you. I find it reassuring to have a Dentist who knows the inside of my mouth like the back of his hand.
Our goal was to avoid a visit to an unfamiliar Dentist who might have a payment due on their new x-ray machine and need to raise a little cash fast.
After 8 am when Val’s Dentist’s office opened, she reached him on the phone. He brought the urgency level down a few notches.
“Take 3 Advil and see if things calm down” was his advice.
I love a Dentist who goes with the least intrusive, most economical, potential solution first.
The advice worked.
You know how vacations work: normal diets go out the window and your teeth are tasked with chewing all kinds of strange foods. I am certain a new treat we discovered at Andy’s Frozen Custard shown on the menu as a Snowmonster Concrete contributed to my wife’s dental distress. It is a blend of frozen custard, strawberries, and melted chocolate chips.
I have two observations about the Snowmonster:
- It is delicious; and
- It is a good thing we do not have an Andy’s Frozen Custard near our home.
Amazingly, after 24 hours without a Snowmonster my wife’s dental discomfort disappeared.
It was good to get home, even if we arrived a few hours earlier than planned.
A few days later another all too frequent bane of a Baby Boomer’s life necessitated another change in plans for me. It started when I received a Facebook friend request from the wife of an old friend. I thought we were already friends. I was right. The request was from a hacker. But while I was checking the real Facebook page of my friend’s wife, I started seeing messages like “So sorry to hear about Ben” and “You are in our prayers” with no explanation.
I googled my friends name followed by “obituary”. I discovered my friend had passed away two days after we returned from vacation.
That sad discovery is the first time anything useful has resulted from numerous attempts to hack my Facebook account.
Ben and I had spent more than a few nights in our post-high school years cruising the streets of Springfield, Mo. Ben had a dark blue 1966 Ford Mustang.
High tech sound systems of that era included an eight-track tape player mounted below the dash. Ben liked that eight-track loud. While some sophisticated sound systems today will rattle the windows of the homes and businesses as the car passes by, I rarely hear the occupants singing aloud.
Ben & I did.
“Mustang Sally” was our favorite song. Also high on our charts were “Devil with a Blue Dress/Good Golly, Miss Molly”, “C.C. Rider”, and “Sock it to me Baby”. Ben and I sang along enthusiastically. What we lacked in vocal talent we made up for in volume.
Taking you back to circa 1968, here is a video of Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels for your listening pleasure. Imagine a warm summer evening in 1968, windows down because A.C. was a rarity in those days, and a couple of young guys belting this out in the car next to you at a stoplight.
Fishing was another favorite, less noisy, pastime of ours. We spent many hours in aluminum boats (minus an outboard) we rented for three bucks a day on Fellows Lake near Springfield, Mo. We took turns being the motor. I don’t recall it ever taking long to clean the fish.
Ben’s was a visitation and funeral I would attend. I last saw Ben in 2017. In the last few years we had gone full circle from fast cars and rock and roll to trading pictures of cows, sunsets, kids and grandkids on Facebook.
To pay my respects to Ben, my journey would take me as far as you can go into the hills and hollows of southwest Missouri without crossing the Arkansas line.
The end of one trip with a dental emergency, the beginning of another with the loss of an old friend.
Ben Franklin once said that the only two things certain in life are death and taxes.
To which Will Rogers later added “At least death doesn’t get worse every time Congress is in session!”
Personally, I think “dental problems” should have made Ben’s list.