He wanted to know how many teeth she had.

While she was busy trying to count her teeth with her tongue, he started talking about dental x-rays and what they could show about a person.

She was a little drunk so it was tough for her to follow his thread AND count inside her head. Numbers had never been her thing, after all. Come to think of it : Neither had dental hygiene.

He must have noticed her tongue rolling back and forth across her closed cheeks because he said, “It’s either 28 or 32, depending on whether you still have your wisdom teeth.”

She puffed out her cheeks with relief. Her tongue had been getting tired from all that moving around. She kept losing count when she got to her front bottom teeth and had started over about a dozen times….All while trying to appear deeply engrossed in his detailed accounts of the day’s most exciting orthodontal issues. He even had photos of his patients’ teeth on his phone, like you might have of your kids or your pets.

“Oh Jesus, all the wisdom was yanked out of my head years ago,” she joked. But he didn’t laugh. And she knew it was not really a joke. What else accounted for the fact that she was sitting at this bar, half drunk and counting out her molars in front of this moron?

“So, it’s 28,” he said and nodded, like she had passed some unspoken quiz.

When he asked whether she had any dental work, she knew she needed an escape plan. She excused herself to the bathroom, where she did all of her best thinking, and when she returned, she announced that all her teeth were wooden and that she deplored flossing.

He took the hint and turned from her to his next dental victim. And she sipped the rest of her drink in pleasant silence, running her tongue along the outside of her teeth.


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