Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
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or Search by State

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Contact The Media
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Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains





























Life(?) of Trillian
Single/Zero

 
Saturday, February 28, 2004  
Go away for a few days, take a little vacation, break a tooth, get sick....you know, the usual.

Except the sickness didn't get better.

It kept getting worse.

The cough got much worse.

There is a constant wheeze, at first just when I exhaled, but now a wheeze on exhale, and a different wheeze on inhale. Two separate, distinct wheezes for each function.

It has become difficult to breath.

At first I wasn't even aware that I was taking shorter and shallower breaths. Now I am very aware that I am taking hamster sized breaths.

And tired? Oh my. Tired like you can't imagine tired. And yet I have difficulty sleeping. The noise from all that wheezing keeps waking me. Well. That is when I am able sleep between fits of coughing.

My back hurts. My neck hurts. My ear hurts. My eyelashes hurt.

I tried to get an appointment with my doctor. March 25 was the soonest I could be seen.

I threw a tantrum, aided mid-fit by a coughing and wheezing spell. That helped my cause and put me in the emergency category. March 18th will be my emergency appointment. That was February 19th. And it's a leap year.

Well then. With my health care firmly resolved, nothing to do but wait for March 18th and hope I either recover or die by then.

So I got to work on my obituary.

I have given this thought in the past, and always come to the same conclusion: I don't want some stranger or even someone who knows me writing my obituary.

I'm not afraid of what they might say, or not say, per se. It just makes sense that we should write our own obituaries. After all, this is our parting shot. We ought to get to say what we want to say. I hate people putting words in my mouth when I'm alive and able to refute them. Why would I ever allow someone to put words in my mouth when I'm dead and unable to respond? I've written a lot of obituaries over the years (I am nothing if not organized about this sort of thing), revising and editing as my life progressed and changed.

Time for:

Obituary: February 2004

Tricia "Trillian" McMillian
Died
a) like she lived, observing and reporting;
b) uncharacteristically peaceful in her sleep;
c) of caustic sarcasm;
d) violently splattered into the Universe;
e) at a white merlot protest rally;
f) nonplused;
g) alone, penniless, surrounded by hundreds of cats.

Ms. McMillian devoted her life to observing and reporting. Though at times too cynical and sarcastic for her own good, she tirelessly traversed the Universe so you wouldn't have to. You really should have thanked her for that. She would have appreciated just a small note of thanks every now and then. She often remarked she didn't know why she bothered, no one seemed to really care about all she went through and endured for the greater good of humankind. But she's dead now, I hope you're happy, it's too late to tell her thanks or even meet her for a drink after work. She would have really liked that. She liked having a drink after work. Bet you didn't know that, did you? You ungrateful snot. Remember the time she Night Effected her teeth and told you about it, gave you insider tips? It was really helpful, wasn't it? I notice you've got a nice white smile. No doubt thanks to Trillian's helpful hints. Would it really have been too much to drop her a line or give her a ring, invite her out for drink after work sometime? Seems like the the least you could have done. She was really nice, you know, a really nice person. Always took time to listen. Everyone who met her, except one woman she used to work with, remarked about how nice she was, how easy she was to talk to and what a unique and insightful wisdom she had.

Though not conventionally pretty, Ms. McMillian, Trillian, shown here in her Lavalife profile, left an impression on everyone who met her. "She was really tall," one former boyfriend remarked thoughtfully, "and to make matters worse she always wore high heels. I mean, what's up with that? 'Course after she broke her ankle that put a stop to that."

"Something about her eyes...green but well, flecky, and they had this outline - blue - very odd, never seen anything like it, something not quite of this world about them. And really big. Like a Disney character. Only well, more soulful or something," another remarked as he began sobbing in his drink.

"Too bad about that tooth." another would-be suitor remarked about a broken molar, "she only wanted a tiara, but they gave her a crown. Kind of a metaphor for her life."

"Huge tits. Always liked that about her," said an airline passenger who shared a flight and seat next to Ms. McMillian.

Ms. McMillian devoted her education and career to the arts and marketing. This was a love-hate relationship for Ms. McMillian and she died conflicted about her personal integrity and career path. Ms. McMillian is oft quoted as saying, "I didn't choose my career. It chose me." She never wanted anything to do with the lies and deception of advertising and marketing, yet it's the only thing she felt she did well, and the only profession in which she could see herself earning a living. It was the only profession which she felt she had anything to offer. She had a sixth sense about the whole thing. She always hesitated to call it a gift, but, she would concede, it did seem she was born to the field.

At one point she decided her only true professional happiness would come from working with Sir Richard Branson. She long admired his bon vivant-edness as a brilliant marketing angle and wanted nothing more than to work with and for the man himself. She felt strongly that Virgin was a product she could not only get on board with, but stand behind shamelessly. (She also thought it would be a great way to get free music and movies and really cool gadgets.)
a) Sadly, Ms. McMillian died with this dream unrealized, Branson, you really screwed up and missed a great opportunity;
b) Ms. McMillian's vision became reality when Sir Branson, Dick, as she called him, sought her out, made her an insanely profitable offer and the two went on to own the Universe. Mr. Branson and the entire Virgin family mourn Trillian's passing and will name a planet in her honor. They will also re-name Virgin Megastores. They will now be called Trillian's Universe of Really Cool Stuff and Music.

A life-long hockey and baseball fan, Ms. McMillian died happy, having celebrated yet another Stanley Cup victory for the Red Wings AND a Chicago Cubs World Series Pennant. She was torn over the final playoff series, since it was the Cubs against the Detroit Tigers, another one of Trillian's favorite teams. But she concluded that since the Tigers had a pennant or two under their belts, and more in their future, it was only fair the Cubs get this one, this one chance to win it all. Ms. McMillian was such a devoted fan that she died
a) clenching her Gordie Howe signed stick;
b) brandishing a blue Cubs foam paw;
c) wearing a Tigers cap;
d) making excuses for Matt Clement's facial hair;
e) while listening to the Red Wings game on the radio;
f) with WGN on her television;
f) wearing that goddam Red Wings jersey.

Ms. McMillian participated in the game of hockey herself, playing on many junior leagues, in her own way opening doors and paving the way for women in the NHL. Ms. McMillian never regretted having to give up the sport due to her parents' concerns for her safety and well being. "Those were different times. I don't blame them. Had I been them, with a daughter in those circumstances, I would have done the very same thing. And really, it was all getting too competitive for my taste anyway. I was better than most of the boys, we all knew that, but what I learned from that experience, earlier than most girls, is just how fragile the male ego really is. That was the most valuable lesson I learned from playing hockey all those years. Well. That and 'lace your own skates.' Did I miss it when I gave it up? Bloody Hell, yes. Do I regret giving it up? Absolutely not."

Ms. McMillian's athletic prowess was not limited to the ice. She was a Space Invaders tournament champion and thumb wrestling devoteé. "Those hands, those fingers and that thumb of hers...no one stood a chance against her. Many tried, of course, but when it came to hand dexterity Trillian had natural assets beyond compare. I'm sure that's why she was so good at Space Invaders. And thumb wrestling? I mean please, only a fool would take on Trillian," Trillian's long time friend and one time game manager is quoted as saying.

Ms. McMillian was a tireless crusader and patron of the arts and music. She was a staunch supporter of undiscovered talent. She frequently used
her professional position to give unknown artists, musicians and writers a chance to show off their talent. She could often be seen at museums, gallery openings, concerts and local music venues scouring for raw talent. She felt there was no better effort than creating. She was an early supporter of the now infamous artist Shag, as well as the band U2 and author Will Self. These and other artists are too bereft to comment on Trillian's passing. Except for Bono who is never too bereft to speak. U2 is currently recording a concept album in Trillian's honor and will dedicate several world tours to Ms. McMillian. The project is currently under the working title: Trill-opia. "Trillian reminded me of the old days of concept albums, some really great stuff back then. She inspired us to explore the past, you know, like, vinyl and 'album sides' - thanks to her we're really pushing ourselves creatively, more so than we ever have. We owe so much to her, we can never repay her, Trillian, Baby, baby, baby, light my way." Shag is currently working on a collective show of works depicting Ms. McMillian and her life and times. Trillian was long assumed to be the subject, and some say, muse, of Mr. Shag's work. Neither Trillian or Shag would ever publicly comment, however when approached on the subject of the subject of Shag's paintings, Ms. McMillian would be overcome with a subject coy smile and faraway look leaving those in the know with no doubt as to the origin of Mr. Shag's inspiration. "DaVinci had his Mona Lisa, Shag has his..." Mr. Self is at an uncustomary loss for words. His agent made this statement: Trillian's passing has rendered Mr. Self to mired in grief to continue working. He is in seclusion. Please remember him at this difficult time.

It was while endeavoring to find new talent that she became involved with the blog community. An avid reader, Ms. McMillian began reading blogs for the sheer enjoyment of reading and discovering fresh, witty and insightful voices. Egged on and encouraged by a mystery supporter who was a long time reader of Ms. McMillian's emails and letters, Ms. McMillian began her own blog, Life of Trillian. She blogged regularly for several years under this title, until changes in her personal life, computer and circumstances mandated that she change hosts and moved to blogspot where she posted under Life(?) of Trillian. Trillian felt it was poetic justice that this blog would probably end up being her legacy. "Better that than I Am Miss Havisham, I guess, though that is yet another legacy I'll probably end up leaving behind, as well. Swut my life is pathetic. I really need to do something about this." Trillian advocated Safe Blogging and spearheaded a one woman campaign for this cause. She was torn about anonymity, thinking on one hand, it is the only way to really blog safely, while on the other, a sad fact that many very talented and good authors will go virtually unknown because of their anonymity.

Ms. McMillian is survived by:
a) her devoted and loving husband, HWNMNBS, who will not be able to carry on without her; and her legacy of cynicism, sarcasm, bitterness and hatred;
b) her devoted and loving husband, (insert name here), who will continue Ms. McMillian's tireless efforts in promoting music, art, literature and pointing out all that is inane in the Universe to anyone who will listen; and several brilliant, talented, beautiful and adoring children;
c) her long suffering parents; a brother; a sister; nieces; a lot of dear friends; and a bunch of blog readers;
d) her tireless devotion to scouring the world observing and reporting;
e) Kilgore Trout and the Red Army;
f) no one in particular;
g) hundreds of cats.

7:20 AM

Friday, February 27, 2004  
Funeral for a Friendship
I lost a friend yesterday.

No, no, hold your awwww, geeze, I'm sorrys.

The only thing that died is the friendship.

And frankly, around 2:30 this morning, I realized I am the one going to a better place.

The weird thing to me is how quickly I am going through the mourning process.

What I'm learning, realizing, more like, is that this friendship has been terminally ill for over a year. There have been hints and allegations, but I was in denial.

I was, in credit to myself, a good friend. A friend who overlooked certain "aspects" of Former Friend's personality. Aspects that in anyone else, a nonfriend, I would find repulsive and reprehensible. But because this person was a friend I did what friends do: I turned a deaf ear to the words I assumed were spoken in haste or anger or under the influence of too much alcohol.

Now I know those words were spoken from Former Friend's heart. The things FF has said, the comments I thought were just offhand remarks, perhaps just sarcastic venting, were in fact heartfelt statements.

Over the course of our friendship, there were times FF "got on my nerves." But that happens with friends. No matter how close you are, at some point, even your best friend will get on your nerves. FF got on my nerves more than any other of my friends, but, well, you know. I made excuses for FF and blamed myself, my short fuse, my own problems, my lack of compassion for FF's opinions, my sometimes too worldly and world weary view of things, yes, it was all my fault, not FF's.

And then of course I felt guilty. "What kind of friend are you?" I would beratingly chastise myself. "I know, I know, I'm horrible, too mired in my own problems to be compassionate about FF's."

And then a conversation happened in which all was revealed. I now know exactly why FF's been getting on my nerves.

It's not me, it's her.

Former Friend is a bigoted, narrow minded, paranoid, selfish snob with no sense of irony or of herself.

Oh. Well. That's all right then. I feel a lot better. I'm sure you do, too.

What I also realized is that I won't miss FF.

I will not miss her convoluted, blowing with the wind right wing rants. i.e.:
I will not miss her blatant, and I mean scarily blatant white supremacist views and statements. "What do you expect from____________?(insert any racial slur you can think of, FF uses all of them, here)"

The minute I open my mouth to say anything even remotely resembling a complaint, before I can finish the statement FF will interrupt with, "Don't tell me, let me guess: S/he was a (insert any racial slur you can think of, FF uses all of them, here). Goddam (insert any racial slur...here) are f*#king ruining this country."

I have always found it extremely ironic that Former Friend is so racially bigoted since her own last name is 14 letters long, 11 of which are consonants, and ends in s-k-y.

Uh, little self awareness check here Former Friend?

I have made little jokes about it - and have always been quick to say, "It's not because s/he is __________, it's because s/he is stupid/a jerk/whatever." And this statement generally invokes the following response:
"S/he is stupid because they're all stupid." They being whatever racial group she is slurring.

These conversations have angered me such that in the past few years I have taken to eliminating all conversations that could in any way invoke racial slander. But with FF, this is difficult because, as I have found, she views the entire world through bigoted eyes.

Race, religion, sexual orientation, last name (yes, the irony here just slays me)...this is how FF looks at the world. Assess these properties first, ask no questions, make snap judgments and dismiss anyone who is not: White, rich, college educated, perfect weight, and Catholic.

It has always been a matter of curiosity to me that she sought out my friendship. Yes, I'm white and college educated, but I'm hardly rich, far from the perfect weight, and defiantly NOT Catholic.

"Trillian," I hear you saying, "if you knew this about FF, why on earth did you befriend her in the first place?"

Oh, that's such a long story.

When I first moved here, we worked together. Not on the same team, but a few offices apart. Pleasant basic conversation in passing sort of thing. We discovered we both had cats and we shared photos and stories about our felines' antics. (Cat people. Sheesh.) One afternoon I went into the ladies' room and heard someone being very, violently, even, ill behind a stall door. Not knowing (or caring) who it was, all concerned about this poor soul being so ill, I said, "None of my business, but are you okay in there? Do you need any help? Can I get you anything?"

Turns out it was Former Friend. She thought she had suddenly come down with stomach flu and was trying to get herself in condition to get home.

I helped her get her things together, helped her out to the curb and put her in a cab to get home.

The next day I had to go out of town for 6 days on business. I felt bad for FF, but hoped I didn't catch her illness because my out of town work was Really Important and I needed to be in top form six days running. (That was back when I still cared about my job.)

It was a whirlwind business trip, one of those not a moment to yourself kinds of trips. On the third day of the trip, during my routine office voice mail check, I had a message, sent to everyone in our department, that FF was in hospital and "the surgery" would be at 5 AM the next day.

I was completely oblivious as to what surgery, so I called the woman who left the departmental voice mail.

I got the news that everyone, at some point in their life, will get about someone they know.

FF had stomach, intestinal and liver cancer. It was severe and in advanced stages. The likelihood of her survival was slim, but she had agreed to try experimental surgery.

If you've never had this sort of news, especially about someone you saw the day before, and knew to be as healthy as humans get, let me tell you this: There is nothing in life which prepares you for this. Even having gone through this (twice since FF, as well) there is nothing I can say to prepare you for one of these phone calls.

I sat there, in my hotel room, the early morning Los Angeles sun streaming in, brain unable to function beyond, "No, she's just got a bad case of stomach flu. I put her in a cab and sent her home. It's just stomach flu, maybe food poisoning."

The rest of my trip was spent on edge. The few of us from the office who knew FF were in constant contact with the office, sharing any shred of info we got with each other and eventually, the whole crew working on the assignment.

As soon as I got home I went to hospital. She was in intensive care. Her elderly parents and boyfriend (also, in my eyes, elderly) were there. I knew her parents were older, but I had no idea they were older and, well, I mean, old. As in unable to care for themselves properly old. And frankly I was shocked about her boyfriend. I knew she dated "an older man" but this guy was old. FF was 38 at the time. Her boyfriend clocked in at what I estimated to be 65. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it was just a bit of a surprise to be confronted with it all at once while FF was laying in there, unconscious, half her insides removed, test results unfavorable and all prognoses pointing to the other side of life.

Of course my heart went out to her, and to her family, as well.

I knew her parents wouldn't be able to manage well on their own, that they clearly depended on FF for help. And with her incapacitated for the foreseeable future, someone had to help these people.

Enter Trillian's weekly trips to the grocery with a really mean old woman.

I organized a sign-up chart in the office, basic things that FF's parents needed help with - groceries, their own doctor appointments, cat box cleaning. No surprise, I was the one who ended up doing a lot of these things.

FF's parents are immigrants. They speak English, but heavily accented and in that whispery, raspy voice 80+ year olds sometimes have. Accept when they yell. Oh. And her mother is deaf. Really deaf. And refuses to wear a hearing aid. Even though she has them.

So the two of use would set off for the grocery, me pushing the trolley, FF's mother pointing with her cane to the items she wanted. I would the fetch them off the shelf load up the trolley and away we'd go, FF's mother yelling at the top of her lungs at me the whole time. And I don't mean just pleasant conversation yelled at top volume. I mean yelling at me, scolding me about taking the wrong item off the shelf, how could I be so stupid to think she'd want THAT?!

Inevitably FF's mother never had anywhere near enough money to cover her groceries. Through all of this I didn't get too uptight. Actually, not uptight at all. I did it gladly. After all, this woman's daughter, her only child, was laying in intensive care, half her insides removed, fighting for life. I'd be a little mean, too, if I were her. So I happily did this, every week, being yelled at, paying for the groceries. The thing is, toward the end, I noticed FF's mother's taste improved significantly. At first she would direct me to get store brand items. Once she realized I was paying for her groceries, she began selecting premium brand items.

Once I got wise to this game I was a little annoyed, but again, I wrote it off to stress from the whole situation, and really, was it such a big deal? If the woman wanted the Expensive Crackers was it really such a horrible thing? No. Of course not. It's the very least I or anyone else could do.

What I did find a bit odd was that neither FF or her parents seemed to have any family or friends helping out. I was just a casual work acquaintance, certainly not a good friend, actually, barely a friend at all. I knew they were tight in their parish, where was their priest? Other church members? Choir people FF talked about incessantly?

More to the annoying point, where was this boyfriend of hers? He was seldom to be seen at hospital, and never appeared to do anything for FF's parents.

I held my tongue and tried to not be too critical of this man or the state of FF's romantic relationship.

Miraculously, FF rallied.

She improved.

Her boyfriend would make sporadic "heroic" (read: very showy) appearances.
After four months of further surgery and chemotherapy and a lot of other really horrible ordeals, she was released.

Oh happy day.

Her boyfriend took a lot of credit for what myself and other colleagues did for FF and her parents. He was hailed as a rock of support. FF's parents publicly proclaimed they never would have managed without him.

Seriously.

We all bit our tongues. But one by one the few other colleagues got really sick of his behavior and the abuse FF's parents hurled. Eventually it was down to myself and one or two other suckers, I mean kind souls, helping out with FF's recovery.

And so, the friendship between FF and I, however oddly, formed.

Years have passed, FF recovered shockingly, amazingly, miraculously, ABA Journal-ly well.

This is a good thing, of course.

But through it I have endured a lot. An awful lot. A lot of verbal assaults that I have dismissed. Because just as I get ready to lash back at her, just as my anger has risen to "Must. Speak. Out." level, I remember FF clinging to life, unconscious, in that hospital bed, and her elderly, nasty parents, her lack of friends and family who cared when the chips were down, her horrible boyfriend, and I feel too guilty to strike back.

She routinely reminds me, in her well worn passive aggressive way, that Catholics are God's chosen. She'll use the royal we in these statements and then say, "Oh, I always forget, you're not Catholic, are you." This isn't a question but a statement of fact.

But have I once, even once made one remark about the Catholic church in general, let alone my strong feelings about it? Never. Not once. Because I am not the sort of person to judge a person based on their religious beliefs and don't go around making offending remarks about religions.

Have I ever once made an remark about her boyfriend? Even when she complains about his ex-wife, his grown children, his grandchildren, his social security benefits or the his complete and utter lack of regard for her, her health or her feelings? That on three occasions the man has publicly, loudly, made suggestive advances at me, IN FRONT OF FF, no less? Never. Not once have I stated the obvious that her boyfriend is disgusting, lecherous old codger who treats her like crap. Not even when he gave her an STD. But convinced her that she caught it in the hospital and GAVE IT TO HIM.

If she's so naive or desperate to put up with this, well, I've figured I'm not the one to state the obvious to her.

(It felt really good to say that. I've been biting my tongue over that one for a lot of years now.)

She also routinely reminds me, in her well worn passive aggressive way, that I am poor. "What do you expect in your neighborhood? It's a terrible place, a ghetto, all drugs and prostitution and (racial slur racial slur racial slur). If you live there you are just asking for it. If you can't afford to move to a better neighborhood you should go back to school so you can get a better job and earn more money." Here I will note that this woman lives a mere 1.5 miles from me, in a neighborhood that has seen more than its share of crime. That I have two more degrees than she has, that I earn a heckuva a lot more money than she does, and one bedroom condos in my neighborhood sell for at least three times the value of her parents' entire home. The home in which she was raised, and still lives, rent and mortgage free. (Not that the value of real estate means anything...just stating facts.) But do I ever mention any of these facts to her when she goes off on a tirade about my impoverished slum neighborhood where I get what I deserve in terms of crime? Never. Not once.

"Trillian," you're wondering, "why, WHY would you continue to associate with a person who says things like this, who thinks this way? Cancer or no, this just doesn't sound like the type of person with whom you affiliate. Your friends seem to be nice, thoughtful, funny, intelligent, fair minded people."

And you're right.

But, well, you know.

She's not evil.

Really.

I guess.

I thought.

After all that I've heard and endured, what could she possibly say or do to kill the friendship?

Yesterday she very, very loudly made a remark, in front me and a lot of other people which embarrassed not only her, but me.

She used the royal we to include me, to give her opinion added fuel.

It was an opinion which I vehemently opposed. A narrow minded, snobbish, stupid, bigoted, factually wrong statement about someone all of us present know.

Which I could not tolerate.

After she made this statement, including me with her "we," several years of pent up lashing back came out.

I was very hurt that she would say any of what she said, that ANYONE would say or even think any of what she said. Let alone include me as in agreement with her statement.

Through my own still raspy voice and sore from the dentist mouth, I calmly refuted everything FF said, exposed her for the dim witted, bigoted snob she is, and, well, felt a lot better because of it.

She was angry.

Not hurt, I hasten to add.

Angry.

She lashed back and called me more than a few names.

Yes.

Name calling.

As in two 8-year-olds on the playground.

I wasn't even embarrassed for her.

It was then it hit me: This is not a friendship.

This is two people, one of whom has faced some very difficult challenges, the other of whom felt sorry and duty bound as another human being to help.

I should be upset.

I should have apologized by now.

I should be feeling bad about losing my temper.

I shouldn't feel the enormous sense of relief that I feel.

But I do.

And I realize it's because I've let go.

Over the years of this friendship I have gone though: Denial and isolation, anger, bargaining and depression.

I'm in the final stage: Acceptance.

12:13 PM

Thursday, February 26, 2004  
Be Kind! Rewind!
When I was hit with the sickness and tooth ailments, I spent a lot of time in bed. As I tried to rally I dragged myself to the couch to watch movies. Fortunately I had a fresh supply from a sale table. The VHS sale bins are getting fewer and farther between, though. My small war against Hollywood's insane price gouging is slowly coming to an end. I have been a regular at the VHS sale table for years. I have been a VCR hold out, refusing to completely convert to DVD. Sure, they're cool and I love the technology, but honestly, when was the last time you actually partook of any of the extra features?

Though I'm not a typical purchaser of movies. That is, I don't rush out the day a movie is released on VHS/DVD and snatch it up, or even rent it. My rationale and reason for purchasing movies is: If I can buy it for less than $5, that's cheaper than going to the matinee and sometimes cheaper than renting (I am stuck with a Big National Rental Chain which charges $4.99 per rental). I watch the cheap movie then give it to any friend or relative who might want to see it, thus increasing the box-office savings. Two people (or more!) viewed this movie for under $5! It's my little way of sticking it to Hollywood for all the times I've parted with $10 of my hard earned cash to see an incredibly bad movie.

That's not to say I don't cling to a few favorites that I do watch time and time again. Of course. But for the most part, any movie I purchase was bought for $1.99 - $3.99 at Walgreens or the clearance bin at the mall or discount retailer is passed along to someone else, who then passes it along to someone else, and so on, and so on and so on.

A few weeks ago while shopping for shoes I can actually wear, I came across a mega-blowout sale of VHS movies.

"OOOohh! Look! Bins of VHS movies on sale!" I squealed to no one in particular. I was excited. I love movies. I'll watch just about anything.

So there I was, staring down two bins of clearance VHS movies. This is very exciting for me. The thrill of the hunt. Like I said, I love movies, I love a sale and I love sticking it to Hollywood. So these clearance bins represent my version of the Lost Arc of the Covenant.

What made this even more exciting was that no one else was interested in the sale bins. (I know, I know, because no one has a VCR anymore.) I had a clear and present shot at all the movies in the bins. I set down my packages, discreetly tucked them between me and bin #1. I pushed up my sleeves. I re-tied my pony tail.

I dug into the bin.

For the uninitiated, there are always a lot of really, really bad movies in these bins. Movies you've never heard of before now, starring actors you have never seen or heard of. You can't automatically dismiss these movies, there is the occasional diamond in the rough. A sleeper that never really caught on in theatres but was a big renter, a cult classic, or a first movie for an actor who later became very famous are standards in the cheap sale bins. (i.e.: Say Anything is a cheap bin staple that fits into all three of those categories.)

BUT, once you dig through the really, really bad movies, you will hit a vein of "good" movies. Movies you may have meant to see at the theatre but didn't get around to it, movies friends have suggested renting, or movies you genuinely like and for $2.99 are worth seeing again.

So at first I was undaunted by the lack of potential viewing pleasure to be found in the bin. Then I realized what I had stumbled upon. An entire bin full of such timeless classics as: The Beaverly Hillbillies, A Clockwork Orgy, Red Vibe Diaries, Little Shop of Whores, Assent of a Woman and Trampire. (I'm not making those up, and I'm not giving out links - you're all very clever and tenacious Googlers.)

Yes. A bin of cheap VHS porn. I took a quick look around. Had anyone seen me feverishly pawing through the sale porn bin? I grabbed my bags and got out of there as quickly as possible. This was a mall for swut sake! Kids are everywhere! You can't just put out a bin of porn movies with a big VHS MOVIE SALE sign on it in the front of the store! Apparently you can. Because no one notices or cares.

You heard it here last: VHS is not only an outdated technology, and VHS tapes gone the way of BETA, relics of a bygone era, it has now become synonymous with sleaze.

DVD is cool. I agree. But I happen to like VHS. I happen to own a very good VCR. I happen to be perfectly happy re-winding.

Think of the Be kind! Rewind! sticker manufacturers! An entire industry is being forced into extinction. I can see the sad scene now, a nice suburb, the repo van pulling away, two sad faced tots looking on through the front window. Tense moments in the kitchen between a husband and wife.

"Look, honey, I know things are rough down at the plant, but we've got to face facts! Everyone has switched to DVD. Big National Video Chain doesn't even carry VHS anymore. Jane told me The Other National Video Place is going to stop renting them, too." the Disney Channel looking wife says, her tone as impatient and abrupt as it gets for her (not very).

"What? Just give up?! Just like that?! Be Kind! Rewind! is all I've ever known! Be Kind! Rewind! Bought us this house, those trips to Houston, and don't forget, it kept you in book clubs and Gymboree and out of the work force for a lot of years!" the husband, wearing a short sleeved dress shirt and tie, barks back at her, his usually well maintained hair falling out of place.

Shifting a baby to the other hip, the wife sighs, places a gentle hand on her husband's arm and says, "We'll get through this. Somehow. If I have to go back to work, I will. I heard Smithers and Tate got the Cuthburt account...they'll be needing anti-trust representation..."

"Honey no! I can't let you do that! No wife of mine is going to be an anti-trust lawyer! I'll get a job at the You May Already Be a Winner sticker plant. They're always hiring." the husband vehemently interrupts.

"You'd do that? Who are you? Who have you become! Look what this has done to you! Look what DVDs have done to you, to us! That's just crazy talk! You're better than that! All these years of Be Kind! Rewind! dignity and professionalism and you are willing to just flush it down the toilet with You May Already Be a Winner?!" the wife, now crying, pleads.

The husband sighs. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it. Maybe something will open up at Have a Nice Day or No Smoking. You know how I've always wanted to work at No Smoking. That's a sweet deal. I'm sure all my years at Be Kind! Rewind! will give me a jump on some of the other guys."

One of the little tots from the window enters the kitchen brandishing a VHS tape. "Look Daddy, I was kind! I rewound the tape!"

The family embraces in a group hug.

DVDs. Damn them. Damn them all to Hell.

10:04 AM

Wednesday, February 25, 2004  
Very Real Reality Wednesday
The Queen of Oral Hygiene Gets Crowned

Last Wednesday, my first day back from a short vacation, it was established by Dr. Dentist that I would need a build-up and crown on the tooth I broke while on vacation.

The first of two appointments in this endeavor was 9 AM Monday.

I am not an apprehensive or fearful dental patient. I love going to the dentist. For me it's like going to the spa. Seriously.

So naturally I arrived early for my appointment, relaxed, casual and eager to begin reconstruction on my poor broken tooth.

I had complete faith and trust in Dr. Dentist.

I was the first appointment of the day. The hygienist led me into a back surgery room. I'd never been in this area of my dentist's office. I had a vague notion it existed, but I'd never had a need to visit any other room than the cleaning and x-ray rooms.

I should have been concerned, at least less relaxed, when I entered the room and saw all the built-in equipment, multi-jointed Burton-esque devices attached to walls, The Chair and rolling carts. Even if those instruments didn't concern me, the two trays of "items" on the dentist's desk combined with the two trays plus miscellaneous items arranged on the hygienist's counter on the other side of the chair should have raised a flag in alarm.

But no.

Remember?

I love the dentist. It's like going to the spa for me. All this just added to the fun. Besides, Dr. Dentist would never hurt me. All this is probably just standard equipment for this room, it's not all to be used on me.

I chatted with the hygienist. Got comfortable in the chair.

Dr. Dentist arrived.

"Good morning Trillian! You're here bright and early! Are you ready to fix that tooth?!" an aqua surgery gowned, face masked, latex gloved Dr. Dentist enthused.

"Oh yes, Dr. Dentist, I can't wait to get this fixed!" I enthused right back at him.

"Great! Let's get started," he said as he settled into his surgeon chair next to my recliner with headrest.

The last thing I remember before being tilted backward into his crotch was noting the time on the oversized clock radio blaring Smooth Jazz: 8:45 AM.

That and a fleeting, blurry, upside-down glance at what I think was a wicked smile churling on the hygienist.

Dr. Dentist stuck an oversized Q-Tip in the back of my mouth. It tasted like Listerine. I thought maybe I had bad breath. I've been really sick, and sometimes when you're really sick you have bad breath and don't know it. I was kind of embarrassed. With the Q-Tip tucked between my cheek and back gum, I said, "I apologize, since I was here last week I've come down with a horrible cold. I'm starting to feel a bit better, but..."

"Not to worry, we'll be using suction anyway. You just let me know if you need to take a break to cough or sneeze or swallow or have a drink. M'kay?" Dr. Dentist I think somewhat condescendingly told me. "How's that anesthetizing going? Feel funny back there?"

"Oh, is that what that is?!" I said, all interested, but completely oblivious as to why Dr. Dentist would be anesthetizing my back gum.

"Yes, it won't help a lot, but it will reduce some of the initial discomfort." he rather offhandedly remarked as he fussed and readied his trays.

Uh, "discomfort?" No, I didn't think this would be a pain free procedure, I'm not that naive, but I hadn't considered, you know, big scary pain, the pain that makes people hate going to the dentist.

Suddenly I felt trapped. Dr. Dentist, from my head nearly in his crotch and looking at him upside down position, had taken on a sinister look.

For all I knew, it wasn't even Dr. Dentist under all that surgery get-up.

I still have doubts. Because Dr. Dentist is a good, kind man. He would never do what happened next.

Shots.

Needles THIS long.

I kid you not. I got a really good look at those needles. Dr. Dentist, or whomever he was, brandished them in front of me, doing that thing they do in cartoons and horror and comedy movies, that thing where they push the syringe into the air until liquid drips out the end. Very theatrical. Very effective. Very weird. I gauge the needles at least 6.5 inches. Maybe longer, it's hard to be exact from my upside-down head nearly in dentist's crotch position.

Insert scratch of Kenny G record here.

Shots?

Needles?

No one mentioned anything about shots. No. I very clearly remember Dr. Dentist NOT saying anything about shots, needles or horrendous pain when we discussed this procedure last week. Definitely not.

Dr. Dentist read my mind (not very difficult since I'm sure he's seen that panic stricken look of fear on patients every day since he entered dental school). "Now Trillian, I'll do these as quickly as possible. We know they hurt, I wouldn't do it if it weren't completely necessary. We'll just do three, it shouldn't take any more than that. We usually have to do at least four on this procedure. But since you're in such good shape three should cover it."

THREE???!!!

THREE SWUTTING 6.5 INCH NEEDLES IN MY MOUTH?!!!!

Yes.

Three.

Three swutting 6.5 inch needles in my mouth.

You'd think needles that long would poke straight through your gum and out through your chin. I wonder if dentists in training ever do that? Miss the mark and send the needle straight through the patient's chin. Measure your lower gum to your chin. More or less than 6.5 inches? Mine is much less. Which means if it's not poking out through the chin, that needle is going somewhere a needle was never meant to go.

I've been through a lot the past year. I broke my ankle in two places, had a whiplash and a concussion, all the same time, rode the 666 bus, strained my wrist, endured months of "Kimmie" the satanic physical therapist, fell off a ladder and re-inacted Helter Skelter in my bedroom, and yet none of it compares to three injections of Novocain in my lower gum.

You know how I marveled at how an enormous hunk of tooth came out and I suffered no pain whatsoever? Well, I suffered. Those shots more than made up for any pain I didn't have from losing a wedge of tooth.

I opened wide. The first needle went in.

And in.

And in.

And in.

I gripped the arms of the chair. Tightly. At one point I realized my knee had instinctively raised in "brace yourself Betty" position. I couldn't make it go back down.

And still Dr. Dentist drove the needle in deeper.

This was no trip to the spa.

And what of the anesthetizing? Was it actually Listerine? Did the hygienist not like me and load the Q-Tip with Listerine instead of narcotics? Because if this is "reducing some of the discomfort," I cannot possibly imagine how horrendous it would be without anesthetizing.

Finally he withdrew the first needle (In a cruel taunt, it hurts as much coming out as it does going in.)

Dr. Dentist uttered a quiet apology.

Wanted to say: "I just bet you're sorry. You live for these moments, you don't fool me. This is why you became a dentist, isn't it? Isn't it?!"

Had he not had his hands in my mouth. But he did, in preparation for the next shot, so instead I just gave a meek "that's okay, I know you're just doing your job" expression in my eyes and hoped the tears I felt welling weren't visible.

Shot number two was as bad as the first, perhaps worse because it went straight into the side of my gum. You know, the bony part? The part where a needle doesn't really easily slide in?

The other knee came up to join in the "brace yourself Betty" position.

So let's recap: I'm flat on my back in a reclining chair with headrest. Reclining chair is tilted back such that two more degrees of tilt would be enough to cause me to slide out of the chair landing headfirst on the floor. Except that I wouldn't make it to the floor because: My head is a mere 8 inches from Dr. Dentist's crotch, which is what would break my fall if the two degrees of tilt were engaged. Dr. Dentist's hands, yes, hands, plural, covered in latex, are in my mouth. He's got his head leaned over mine, gazing into my mouth, close enough to kiss me. He's thrusting a long pointy thing into me, over and over. And I've got my knees raised in classic, "brace yourself Betty, there's a big one coming in" position. And Smooth Jazz is playing on the oversized clock radio.

Connect your own dots to form a complete picture.

Perhaps I'm beginning to understand why people don't like going to the dentist.

When the shots were finally administered, Dr. Dentist and the hygienist had a discussion about last week's dental convention. It was one of those conversations people have when they think the third person is asleep or in the other room.

Which was kind of awkward for me because I wasn't entirely sure I was supposed to hear the conversation. Given the size of the shots, that being the size of darts they shoot from guns to subdue wild animals, I wondered if maybe I was supposed to be knocked unconscious. Or dead.

And then it hit me.

My lip.

MY LIP!

It's swollen!

NO!

I didn't need a collagen injection! My lip is already quite full enough! NO!!!!! You've made a horrible mistake!!! I have a broken tooth! Not a thin lower lip!

I would have screamed that had I been able to open my mouth or move my jaw.

Instead I just kind of cough squeaked.

"Everything okay there Trillian? Feeling numb yet?" Dr. Dentist showing sudden concern.

"Mwy wip" I managed to squeak out through my already raspy voice and now immovable jaw and lip.

"Numb, is it? That's good. How about this?" tapping my cheek, "Can you feel this?"

In fact I could not. For all I know he gave me a Joe Louis iron fist worthy punch, but I'd never know.

Okay. Fine. Point made and noted. The shots do kind of cool things. Still. Not worth the pain.

"Great. Now we can get started." Dr. Dentist far too happily exclaimed.

Wanted to say: "Get started?"

Instead just kind of laid there. Head mere inches from Dr. Dentist's crotch.

Dr. Dentist asked the hygienist to hand me the safety glasses.

You know you're in for it when your dentist makes you wear safety glasses before beginning the procedure. Yes. Safety glasses. Really. Brown tinted safety glasses. When was the last time you had to wear safety glasses at the dentist? Yeah. Me neither. But wear them I did. During the entire procedure.

All 2.5 hours of it.

Yes. 2.5 uninterrupted hours of Dr. Dentist using whirring, screaming, spinning, chipping, whining instruments, machines, hands, molds, mirrors in my mouth.

Well. There were a few coughing interruptions.

Word to the wise: Never undergo any dental procedure when you are sick.

At one point there were two of those saliva sucky things hanging out of my mouth.

See above recap and add brown tinted safety glasses and two saliva sucky things hanging out of my mouth.

And yet that's still not the worst of it.

No, the worst of it came at some point well into the procedure when Smooth Jazz played a bizarre instrumental cover of what I swear was Muskrat Love.

Maybe it was the Novocain. Maybe it was the stress. Maybe it was because I fell asleep for a few minutes.

But I honestly believe I heard an instrumental version of Muskrat Love.

And then it was over. Dr. Dentist said it went well and that the next visit will be a breeze. And then he was gone.

The hygienist handed me my sign-out paper and led me to the check-out area.

The receptionist told me I only had to pay half for this visit, the rest is due when the crown is complete. Fair enough, at least my bank account was spared some pain.

And then I went to work.

Mouth numb.

Lip and jaw feeling like they were five times normal size.

Unable to speak because I couldn't make my jaw move.

Yet oddly, not in too much pain.

No, that would come the next morning.

Mouth un-numbed, the three spots of injection and oddly, my ear, were in agony. The tooth that had the work done doesn't hurt a bit. But my ear, where my jaw sort of hooks in, is in agony. Apparently from having my mouth open as wide as possible for 2.5 hours.

And the exactly points of injection.

Ouch.

But I am ready for my crown. I am in pre coronation phase.

Frankly, I would have been happy with a tiara, especially now that I know what is involved with acquiring a crown.

But as the Queen of Oral Hygiene, it's only appropriate that I have crown.

With power comes pain.

6:36 AM

Tuesday, February 24, 2004  
The kid's 8. His mullet reached full maturity thus rendering his paternity obvious.


While it never should have happened in the first place, Dr. Hanson's death is a huge victory for non-smokers and anyone who has ever flown an airline with horrible staff. Northworst? BA(d)? Are you reading?

We're not gonna take it anymore. We will sue and we will win.

6:43 PM

 
Tooth Fairy, Smile on Me
We all know I'm rather fastidious regarding my teeth and their care and cleaning. Okay, a lot fastidious in the care and cleaning of my teeth. OKAY! I've got a thing about my teeth! Okay?! I admit it!

If brushing and Sonic Caring and flossing and regular check-ups and cleanings and the occasional White Strip is wrong, I don't want to be right.

I've always been this way, I was never one of those kids who didn't want to brush their teeth. I've always taken good care of my teeth and I've always loved visits to the dentist.

Apart from many long, painful, socially awkward orthodontia years (Rubber bands. Headgear. Retainers.) and The Wisdom Teeth Massacre, my oral health care regime has been rewarded with healthy, pain free, trouble free, happy teeth and gums. Smiley smile.

So imagine my surprise when, while eating a delicate curry noodle meal while on vacation, an entire wedge of one of my lower molars literally fell out.

At first I was nauseous, not because I'd lost a huge hunk of a tooth, but because I thought some wayward bit of Hanuman knows what had found it's way from the back of the kitchen to my curry. I was very angry because it was gross and, I could have seriously damaged a tooth on that piece of, of, whatever it was. I discreetly (and please, give me credit here, I did this very discreetly, no one had a clue of my distress) removed the offending object from my mouth and into my napkin, remaining composed the entire time.

When I had a moment to tactfully glance at the object I was repulsed. As a vegetarian first and foremost, the idea of a piece of bone or part of animal in my food is beyond tolerable. And this, I was certain, was a piece of bone.

I was now faced with a choice: Stay quiet, do the mature adult thing and not say a word (discretion = valor, valor=much needed karma points) or, go back to the kitchen, pull aside the waiter, explain what happened and show the offending item. (fuss=free meal, free meal=more money to spend at duty free) I was mulling over my options when I took a long, tall drink of water. I sort of swished it around in my mouth in an effort to sanitize my mouth and mind of the offending item. It was at this point my tongue chanced upon a strange feeling area of my mouth. Left lower first molar...something's not right. Something's a bit less smooth than usual. Something's cracked!!! OH SWUT!!! SOMETHING'S OUT OF PLACE!

Still not firing on all synapses, I thought I had indeed injured a tooth on the offending item in my curry noodles. "Well, now I'll have to say something to the waiter. I mean, I've been injured. This is serious. I must find a dentist, I must try to save my precious tooth!"

I excused myself to the ladies' room to inspect what I feared was serious damage. I took my napkin containing the vile instrument of destruction with me.

I was afraid to look in the mirror, imagining a tooth precariously dangling by a root or an enormous chip or crack. Nothing could prepare me for what I found.

Nothing dangling. Nothing cracked.

Just a huge, empty place where the front inner corner wedge of my molar used to be.

I freaked. Yes. Me. Trillian. Freaked. Beyond panic.

My tooth! My precious, dear, vital, healthy molar was missing a quarter of itself.

It was at this moment, as I was frozen, gripped in terror, that the synapses began whirring at intelligent speed.

I gingerly opened the napkin.

I took a good look at the item.

It was a piece of an animal. The animal human! The animal ME!

The item in the napkin was the perfect match and fit to the vacant space in my gum.

My tooth!

Suddenly no longer grossed out (why? why isn't it just as gross when it's a piece of us as it was when it was a piece of someone/thing else?) I turned the wedge shaped section of tooth over and studied it.

Smooth, clean edges, as if it had been sliced out of my mouth.

Mysteries remained: How did this happen? Now that the offending object was identified as part of me, the culprit was at large. I in fact had not bitten down on anything other than soft curry noodles, so what caused my tooth to break?

Why didn't my tooth or gum or mouth hurt? No pain whatsoever. Thankfully yet oddly. How could it be possible to lose such an enormous piece of tooth and not feel it? Not feel it come out, and not feel even the tiniest bit of pain after it came out?

I wrapped the piece of tooth in tissue and secured it for safe keeping, secured it in my purse and returned to the table, trying to pretend everything was fine.

Of course inside my mind was racing. MUST FIND A DENTIST! BUT WAIT! YOU'RE THOUSANDS OF MILES FROM HOME! CAN THEY FIX THE TOOTH? CAN THE BROKEN PIECE BE SALVAGED? WHAT DO I DO? DON'T PANIC! DON'T SWUTTING PANIC!!!

Re-assess. I'm in no pain whatsoever. Odd. Very odd. But good. I'll be home soon, perhaps it's best to wait to see Dr. Dentist as soon as I get home rather than risk the unknown with a dentist here.

Which became my action plan. At no time did I have any pain. In fact, that area has been slightly sensitive for the past few years and now it felt better than fine. At times in the past few years, very cold or spicy food has caused slight discomfort. Dr. Dentist has studied the area, not found any culprits and told me it was just a sensitive area. But now it felt great!

Ah ha.

Wait a minute. When I first told Dr. Dentist about the sensitivity, he mentioned it was possible there was a minute crack in the tooth was the cause. He x-rayed and did some weird light thing on it and found no cracks, but he did tell me the crack could be so tiny that it couldn't be seen. And if that was the case, there was nothing we could do anyway.

Small crack. I looked at the piece of tooth. It was a very, very clean break. Not at all jagged and a near perfect line. It really looked as if it had been sliced with an x-acto knife. A very small crack would probably do that.

But how did I crack my tooth in the first place?

Braces. Those swutting braces. When my orthodontist installed my braces, he had difficulty fitting bands on my oversized molars. This was back in the days of old fashioned braces, the kind with metal bands around teeth and wires attached to the bands which are then tightened every six weeks. And little rubber bands looping from top to bottom hooks on the bands. And headgear attaching to other hooks. There was a "problem" when my orthodontist installed the metal bands on my molars. My molars are apparently oversized. He had to do a bit of re-engineering on the fly. And while Dr. Orthodontist did a wonderful job on transforming my teeth to a Hollywood worthy alignment, it was at no small cost of time and pain on my part. And, after the braces were finally removed it was discovered that my large molars had suffered "surface abrasions" from the re-engineered to fit bands. Enter: Pre-emptive surface fillings. No big deal. I lived my dental life happy, pain free and smiley smiling.

Until last week. When images of Dr. Orthodontist plagued me. Images of him cobbling bands to fit my over-sized molars, working like Dr. Frankenstein to piece and patch together make-shift bands to fit my teeth.

That must be it. During that process some tiny little crack was formed and all these years later it's worked its way diagonally across my molar.

And there, while eating my curry noodles, it fell out.

As soon as I got home I rang Dr. Dentist.

Dr. Dentist, being a good dentist, saw me that day, on his lunch hour. (He's great. If you're in Chicago and need a dentist, email me, I'll give you his details.)

Dr. Dentist agreed with my theory. He felt genuinely bad that he couldn't do anything prior to the wedge of tooth coming out. He reviewed my x-rays. Studied my gold star laden chart. Extensively examined the broken wedge and the tooth from whence it came.

"Trillian," he said gravely, "you are very lucky. It cracked in such a way that it didn't go anywhere near the nerve. This will be a simple build-up and crown. We need to do this right away, however, because if we let it stay exposed for even a few weeks there will be deeper damage."

He called in an assistant. "Ms. McMillian needs an appointment for a build-up and crown. Consider this an emergency, it is crucial that we do this in the next week. Arrange my schedule to get her back in here within a week."

Turning to me, "Trillian, you're very, very lucky. We can save your tooth and it will be good as new."

"Thank you Dr. Dentist, thank you!" I gushed. "Um, do you think my insurance will cover this?"

"Let's see what plan you have. It should, this is not cosmetic, it's crucial emergency and prevention care." He left the exam room and returned with some charts and a calculator. The assistant returned, "I was able to change your Monday morning meeting with Dr. Scrivello. Is 9 AM okay for you Ms. McMillian?"

"Oh yes, that's fine! Thank you for getting me in so quickly!"

Dr. Dentist looked up from his figuring to gently (and I think maybe a bit lovingly) smile at me and said, "This is an emergency Trillian, nothing's too important for one of my star patients."

Yes. I was slightly creeped out by that, too, I mean, I like Dr. Dentist a lot, but in that light, looking up from figuring my costs, with the assistant hovering over us, it felt a little odd.

He went back to summing up the costs.

"Okay, good news. You have terrific coverage. The build-up and crown and removal of that surface filling that you don't even need will cost you $657." Dr. Dentist beamed at me.

I didn't feel creepy anymore. I felt confused.

"But, but, I have dental insurance!" I exclaimed.

"Very good dental insurance. This is the cheapest patient rate I've seen on this procedure." Dr. Dentist continued to beam.

I sat there stunned. $657? Monday? Six short days from now?

"Okay, Trillian, we'll see you Monday morning," Dr. Dentist said as he got up to leave the exam room, "It will be a few hours. Then there will be another appointment a few weeks later for the final installation." He patted me on the shoulder. "Don't worry, your tooth is very, very healthy. We'll make it good as new and we'll finally get rid of that surface filling you don't even need. It won't be the most comfortable procedure, but with your otherwise great dental health it should go very smoothly and quickly."

"That's not what I'm worried about...$657?!" I mumbled.

Dr. Dentist handed me my wedge of tooth in a little zip lock bag. "Take this home, put it under your pillow. Maybe the Tooth Fairy will give you $657 for it."

Dental humor.

The assistant led me to the front check-out desk. I paid for the office call. They gave me a smiley face sticker. No gold star today.

Tomorrow: The Queen of Oral Hygiene Gets Crowned.

11:06 AM

Monday, February 23, 2004  
It happened again. Me, recovering from sickness, still isolated in my own personal Vortex of Snot, ears plugged and raspy voiced, I caught myself singing along to muzak. This time? Maggie May. Which was very appropriate in my raspy voice.

Another woman in the store was humming along (at least I'm not a hummer, right? I mean, hummers...just a short step away from whistlers. Shudder) We caught each other in a sheepish side glance. We recognized we're about the same age and that it was okay to be caught by each other and not some soppy young thing. We smiled in recognition of the sing/hum along to muzak phenomenon.

She spoke first. "I just cannot believe this song is about soccer!"

Embarrassed to admit I knew anything about Rod Stewart or Maggie May or soccer, I just smiled and said, "heh, yeah." Knowing full well she'd got it wrong, that it's You're in My Heart that's about soccer, not Maggie May. But no way was I going to point this out to her. It didn't matter. What would it prove? That I know more about Rod Stewart and stupid songs than she does? Not exactly something I want to prove to anyone.

Yet I felt sort of bad, ashamed even, that I let her continue on in her ignorance. That maybe someday, somewhere, she'd make this statement again, in front of people who will correct her and make her feel stupid that she doesn't know Maggie May isn't about soccer, but You're in My Heart is. Should I have gently corrected her, one muzak sing-alonger to another, in an alliance, a sisterhood of bad songs and useless musical knowledge? I'm not sure, but just in case, consider this a public apology, Maggie May hummer.

Then I realized something. I started thinking about Maggie May and the lyrics. It, too, could metaphorically be about soccer. Seriously. Think about it. Get into a You're in My Heart frame of mind. (Yeah, I know, it's not easy, but c'mon, try.) Got it? Soccer. Right. Now think about the lyrics to Maggie May,
"Wake up Maggie I think I got something to say to you (luring us in here)
It's late September and I really should be back at school (back at school instead of on the soccer pitch?)
I know I keep you amused but I feel I'm being used (amused as in the funny antics soccer players do when cavorting around the field, used as in not earning as much as Beckham?)
Oh Maggie I couldn't have tried any more (giving it his all, living, breathing soccer, as players are wont to do)
You lured me away from home just to save you from being alone (soccer, the young boy's dream and lure, team work is key to success (can't be alone))
You stole my heart and that's what really hurt (soccer gets in one's heart and soul and doesn't let go, so they say, or so Rod said in You're in My Heart)

The morning sun when it's in your face really shows your age (okay, I can't explain this one, just a poetic hook)
But that don't worry me none in my eyes you're everything (soccer players live and breathe the game)
I laughed at all of your jokes my love you didn't need to coax (they are a robust jovial lot, who go into the game willingly)
Oh, Maggie I couldn't have tried any more (gave it his all, like all good soccer players do)
You lured me away from home, just to save you from being alone
You stole my soul and that's a pain I can do without


All I needed was a friend to lend a guiding hand (a coach, a team, a sport, a game...)
But you turned into a lover and (and so much more)
mother what a lover, you wore me out (those practices and games are long and rough)
All you did was wreck my bed (sleepless nights, injuries, sleeping with Eurotrash C-list women)
and in the morning kick me in the head (this is the key phrase, the one that sealed the deal for me: Soccer, kick, head. Of course. Maggie May must be soccer.)
Oh Maggie I couldn't have tried anymore
You lured me away from home 'cause you didn't want to be alone
You stole my heart I couldn't leave you if I tried


blah blah blah, so it goes for the rest of the boring song we all thought was about a young teenaged boy having an affair with an older woman.

Okay, now that we've taken that fun little metaphoric trip, it occurred to me that many other, if not all, Rod Stewart songs could be metaphors for soccer. As I mulled over Rod Stewart song lyrics I realized in fact I a) know way too many Rod Stewart songs, and b) their lyrics. I got past those disturbing facts and marveled at my discovery.

Try it at home yourself. Here's a few to get you started: Hot Legs? Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? Tonight's the Night? Some Guys Have All the Luck? You Wear It Well? Young Turks? (I HATE that song, always have, and must take this moment to publicly say that) Soccer. Soccer. Soccer. Soccer. Soccer. Soccer. For extra credit in the bonus round, Downtown Train.

And for those of you who have been anxiously awaiting the answer to last week's Thin Lizzy trivia question, the answer is Midge Ure. Yes. Visage and Ultravox Midge Ure. Seriously. It's true. Really.

12:06 PM

 
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