I marvel at the size of other people’s teeth. Why are other people’s teeth so large? I wonder if it is an evolutionary thing. Like I was born in the Age of Small Teeth, a time when people ate hamburgers with one hand and could drink an entire Coke without taking breaks to pee.

But evolution seems unlikely since I am 68, not 1068, and it doesn’t seem plausible that people’s teeth would become giant within the space of one generation. Lately, I’ve been examining the teeth of age peers and they have large teeth, too. Everyone does except a few of us and, well, we keep our mouths shut about it.

It’s Christmas Day and one would think that I could find something better to discuss than the exceptionalism of other people’s teeth. Gratitude is always a popular gambit. So is intense family angst. I could be heartfelt and thankful, make a list. It’s always a loved thing, like caramel corn. Who doesn’t like caramel corn? Or I could unroll some terribly sad family story, something where I’m in the wrong but vaguely heroic. As long as I fall on my sword at least part of the way, people love me for my mistakes. Near-death is a winner. Cynicism, though, is unattractive or so I’ve been told.

But I’ve worn out both these roads, they’re rutted with repetition. When it rains the right inspiration, I can get irretrievably stuck until I nauseate myself, never mind the reader.

Aging used to be fertile territory but that’s when it was new. Everything I wrote about aging had a varnish of surprise like it was inconceivable age would wrought for me what it had wrought for everyone else on the planet. The hard truth: if you don’t die, you age. And some of that is mellow and lovely and so wisdom-packed, one feels like the Dalai Lama, but not all of it. Some of aging, as it unfolds is very clock-ticking. My days are numbered, I think. What’s the number? No one knows the number.

Political outrage is another favorite. And there is just so much of it. My husband, who is bothered by nothing (and I say that after 32 years of many extremely bothersome situations), has been having terrible dreams tied together by the themes of torture and oppression. With what world events would these awful dreams be coincidental? It would be all conjecture on my part. He may have been praying over it last night when he lit the first Hanukkah candle, I’m not sure.

I flail about the political landscape like a mutant octopus with double the normal number of arms, first picking up one broken shell and then another, then curling an arm around the half-eaten corpse of a murdered seal, and then floating to the top of the water to lay still and let the ocean’s waves take me somewhere else. Anywhere else. I’m wishing to be washed up on a far beach, next to foreign flotsam and jetsam with friendly crabs scrambling toward me in greeting. They’d see I was a female, though, and lose interest. I just wouldn’t have what it takes to hang with the crabs.

I can’t stand the things I’m supposed to think about now. Who can blame me? There is the curse of my small teeth and then everything else. It’s overwhelming. There are too many layers, too much sediment and it’s all way too heavy. I’m going to become a fossil.


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Photo by Lotte Meijer, Unsplash