pickin’ and grinnin’

(day 12)

I was thinking while doing something gross yesterday whilst listening to my new podcast about The National where very proper British-sounding (unnecessary qualification before that description, I know) young men wax poetically the way only die-hard National fans would when given the opportunity to do a podcast about their band wherein said band actually participates. Part of the podcast/interview talked about how Matt, the singer, often uses driving as a sort of metaphor or to create imagery for thinking. The different ways we cocoon up with our thoughts and drift. I was thinking that if I was to ever admit a gross thing I did, like in a tell the truth type-teenage game, then I’d probably talk about what I was doing in my car, while thinking about this made-up game scenario, metaphoring driving and thinking. It was an around and around meta kind of snake eating its tail hyper-intellectual mental pursuit exercise I found myself knee-deep in.


And today I felt worries, like some of you I’ve been reading, about not having juicy enough mining territory for Slices. Nothing punk rock. It’s all been feeling so Khaki and maybe for a 40 something dad with three kids who happens to be a teacher that’s exactly what I should be writing but rebelling “should” is at least part punk rock anyways and I feel too…writerly tired-awake, essentially, to not do punk rock sometimes. I love Kerouac and Vonnegut and Robbins for heaven’s sake! And I have tons to do tonight. I just don’t like being boring. Like, in real life I usually don’t mind if I am as long as it gets people to leave me alone so then I also have the bonus thing of being able to whine about being lonely too. But in writing. I write about my kids and my work kids and my poor whatever boo-boo needs ego kissing like it’s longform Facebook letting my mom glimpse her boy’s world between a Shoney’s ad and a quasi-religious inspirational meme posted by someone she worked with in the 70’s. So I figured maybe I just admit things I feel weird about. Guilty pleasures. Gross stuff I do. That’s more than scratching the surface, I’d say. Not quite exposing an artery and drowning you all, but breaking the skin between boredom and sin, as it were. I’m not sure what all will spill but I do think I may admit my sometimes gross car thing I alluded to.


I pray. Well, I talk to whoever before bed. I can’t sleep usually if I forget. I can’t sleep usually anyways. That’s a thing too. Brutal for a teacher – insomnia. But my parents or my mom at least had me pray every night as a kid and I held on to the old Catholic prayers growing up, especially saying each night the one you say at confession so you’re all good with the big guy. Now it’s mostly reflecting on my day, thinking of the times I could’ve been better, being thankful when something good happens, hoping for guidance from whatever depending on what the next day is going to bring. I know that might not seem like a weird thing for some people but I would think some people who know me very well would be shocked to know I do that every night.


I sing. Like all the time. So, so badly. I have a vivid image of myself in our old kitchen doing dishes in the sink and blasting music. The National, of course, and I remember this probably because it was toward the end of my being married but before I knew it and I finished with a dish or something and turned with like a pirouetting flourish while singing Sea of Love and she was looking at me like I was just such a weird loser. Haha. Overweight man in his upper thirties still having mental concerts pretending to be a rockstar with shirtsleeve suds and literally no concept of other people having a Wednesday around me. But I kind of can’t help it. I do it in the car with the kids. I’ve been singing out loud since my brothers and I always did in mom’s station wagon or dad’s van. We had no qualms about it back then. Before there were karaoke machines or before they were so everywhere we got an amp and a mic and my brothers and I would have concerts in our bedrooms with our cassette or CD players. We were never self conscious about it. I wonder if my kids think I’m weird sometimes. They dig music too and sing along. That’s mostly my 7 year old daughter. But i have heard Middle Guy say to her in the back seat once “shh, he’s rocking out right now” which made me feel bad and awkward and of course I turned whatever was bleeting out down in order to hear real life’s queries.


I don’t wash my hands nearly enough. I’m never sick. I think of it as immunization.


I do love teaching but my dream job is actually something like demolition clean up I guess? Like I would love it if there were this huge pile of bad whatever and my whole job was to get it gone in some given timeframe. I could have a truck and tools and gloves and boots and stuff. Just me, clearing it away, and afterward having it be just a big empty nothing. That or rodeo clown.


I also hate my teeth. They’re kind of crooked and super ugly. I smoked from the age of 14 up way until my kids started having brains with memories in them. I hardly ever brushed at night when I was a young partier. That’s super gross. With all the smoking and drinking. I usually lived in places on my own as a teen where we would be all cool and smoke like 50’s dads playing card games kids and ladies didn’t understand the inner-workings of. Ash trays strewn about, makeshift and otherwise. And with no real enforcement of humanity besides rent and beer money jobs which allowed us to render time and day irrelevant we would just go til we stopped and then pass out. Have a coke and a smoke, run a toothbrush through, toss on a hat and back to work at noon in time for lunch rush or whatever. Or start at 5 and work through dinner, getting home just in time to crack some cold ones before midnight hit. But the teeth thing? Now? I want to puke. So bad.


And I tell my kids all the time now with adult teeth coming in that they will pay for it. In so many ways. Take care of your teeth! Ugh. In my late 20s and early 30s as a married guy with one decent wage earner and one sometimes student, sometimes bar manager, full time dad, money was tight and I had to deal with the repercussions of my previous oral laziness. Three teeth in total were pulled. All toward the back, easily hidden, but over time I’m sure leading to shifty happenings and definitely some later weird cavity activity in the new gaps. But I brush with the fancy brush and paste a minimum of twice a day every day amen. I floss multiple times a day and I use mouthwash, good mouthwash, at least twice daily as well. I’ve tried corrective measures a few times by purchasing the most expensive of the whitening strips and deal with the torture of having painful teeth that are kind of white but not TV host white and needing to find the sweet spot between not too hot or too cold coffee so my teeth aren’t screaming at me as I ironically work against and taint (tint) what I’m dealing with the pain for in the first place: some shallow need to for this future version to fake fix what yesterday man screwed up.


I go to the dentist now. Not, like, on a regular schedule but the second I feel like something might be wrong. And then I say to do all the stuff that people who go regularly do, which involves the little mirror and choosing a flavor for that buzzy thing (and one of these days from childhood to dentures I will choose something other than cherry) and rinse spitting out water that, no matter what age/state/dentist, tastes so unsanitary or too sanitary or what I don’t know but it’s always the same wrong flavor of water. So I went the other day and I have appointments for minor things, three to be exact, during spring break and beyond. By summer I’ll be tip top. For me anyways. Might even kill the enamel with a the white strips. We’ll see.  


But my last weird thing is my dumb teeth. At least that I’m going to talk about on here. I try so hard. I’m so aware. I always have breath mints in my pocket. Always. Like 3 years ago my daughter said she liked the green ones best and the kids are always taking them so I go with the green life savers. They don’t have them at Jewel, not in the rolls anyways. But CVS has a short pack and target has the big ones. There’s a special spot in my car for them for when I need to reload. In another compartment I keep a package of those little floss picks. The handle is sharp plastic and then there’s a crescent shape on the other end holding together a small strip of floss. You can use the one end as a sort of pick and floss with the other by holding the handle. I also have a package in my desk at work. I’m obsessed. But sometimes…sometimes you’re driving and you’re obsessed and your tongue can’t work whatever needs to be worked out from between your teeth and I told you this was gross and I know talking about this even at all is gross but I warned you, sort of, and I keep my pack of floss picks in the center console with a bunch of other stuff and have the ziplock top part sealed to prevent spilling and sometimes I need one while driving like yesterday I did while I was listening to my podcast and, I, um, use a used one that has collected in the area where they used to put cigarette lighters but where now sits all my usb pluggy stuff. And I wish, dear hygienically-conscious reader, that I could say I only use the plastic pick part but no, no that wouldn’t be enough of a confession you did not ask for or want, no. I quickly grab that little piece of turkey or whatever with the used floss string part. I do. I did it, I’ve done it, and I will again. Gross. I know. Punk rock, though. Totally.    



One thought on “pickin’ and grinnin’

  1. Wow! You warned us! Haaaaaa! I hope you found catharsis and release in your slice today, it was a fun ride as a reader(albeit admittedly gross from time to time!) Way to shine your punk today.


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