02 December 2010

Not So Much

from Proverbs Nine (again)

I'm sorry.  I am diverging from the usual protocol with regard to proverbs and blogging ( I beg forgiveness for this breach of etiquette) but I humbly request your approval in commenting further on the Ninth Proverb.

This line in particular:  "Stolen waters are sweet; bread in secret is pleasant."

Since reading this line I have not been able to shake from my mind the memory of escorting my father back from the dentist the day he had his teeth pulled.  I was young and likely was schlepped along in the car when my mom went to pick him up because there was nowhere else for me to go and because, from what I understand from encyclopedias and such, the generally prevailing wisdom was that such a parenting decision wasn't considered to be *wrong* or *imprudent.*  After all, it was just teeth; and they weren't mine anyway but his; and I was there for support and good cheer, if not for an enameled exemplification of a lost and unrecoverable youth.

Dad emerged from the office in tears.  He had lost, what I knew then to be, the last real vestige of his manhood.  His teeth.  Primitively speaking, this were his gnashers; his gnawers; his sneering threateners; his tools of the hunt, the conquest--the very gateway to survival.

It was neglect that did him in:  cigarette smoke; candy; poor brushing and flossing habits.  You know the routine.  A forest felled by the rewards of the immediate:  "Stolen waters are sweet; bread in secret is pleasant."

Pop wasn't even fifty years old when he adapted to a life with dentures and I'm certain, among the many reasons for his own willed deterioration, having no teeth to claim for his own contributed to that sense of powerlessness he felt.

I met someone recently who used to work for Hearst.  For a time in the 70s, Hearst owned the CBS affiliate in Milwaukee where Dad worked and held his last real, true job.  For a time there, both he and that job had real teeth, if you know what I mean.  As she told me about her work (this person who worked at Hearst) I could only imagine my dad's teeth, on his bathroom sink, in a cup, gnashing away at no one in particular.  It eventually came to that.

Bread in secret is pleasant.  A set of teeth in a cup--not so much.

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