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One Flew Over the Dentist’s Chair, or Butch Cavity & the Periodontal Kid

27 Sep

by Roger White

 

Having been raised in front of our family’s trusty old TV set and in the darkened imitation-butter-smelling theaters of suburban Anytown USA, I often find myself comparing personal life situations to those on the screen. And yes, there really is a “Seinfeld” skit for approximately seven-tenths of the events of my life, big or small. Serenity now!

Recently, however, I found myself mired in a swirling mélange of three movies at once. And it all started at the dentist’s office. I had broken a tooth, you see. It fell apart while I was flossing, of all things. You know you have serious doubts about the strength and durability of your pearly yellows when you crack a tooth by flossing. I imagine that pretty soon my molars may start nice-teefusescrumbling while eating pudding. In that event, I’m just gonna pack it in and head off to the old gummers’ home.

Anyway. It took a few days to get an appointment, so I suffered through the interim by stuffing a tiny ball of chewed gum in my fractured fang. That way, I could keep from shredding my tongue on the ragged remnant of my poor tooth. The dentist said it was a clever temporary fix, but he feared I may have caused an infection. I would find out, he mentioned in passing, as he began to pump my gums full of anesthetic. Infections, he said, tend to render anesthetics and numbing agents ineffective.

There wasn’t much of anything left of the old tooth, so the decision was made to extract. Shouldn’t take too long, he said.

Thus began my descent into the Seventh Circle of Hades. Dente’s Inferno.

Brother, either I had a bad infection, or my tender pie hole is the most sensitive mouth this side of the Susquehanna. For a mindblowing, life-flashing-before-my-eyes, expletive-spewing one hour and thirty-five minutes, the poor Spouseman suffered through the worst pain I’ve experienced since Daughter Number Two nailed me square in the cajones with a sharply hit, line-drive softball. Why do they call them softballs, anyway? That thing felt pretty solid to me.

So through the pungent dental haze of grinding and cracking and tugging and groaning I found myself transported to the movie Marathon Man. I was Dustin Hoffman, supine and at the mercy of former Nazi prison camp dentist Laurence Olivier, who was drilling into my defenseless teeth all the while smiling is-it-safeand calmly asking me if it was safe.

“It’s safe! It’s safe!” I hollered, but the torture continued.

Eventually, finally, dentist man had his prize, and I had a mangled mouth and a prescription for some hefty pain meds. The pharmacy guy advised that I eat something with these pills, but eating something—anything—was out of the question. The inside of my mouth looked like a bad Picasso.

Thus, later that evening, in considerable agony, I weighed the nuclear-powered pills in my hand and found myself suddenly in the movie Catch-22. The catch, in my case, was the fact that I needed something substantial in my belly in order for the meds to bestow the blessed relief without terminal nausea; however, eating was impossible because of the very pain I needed relief from. See Heller, comma, Joseph. I scarfed down the pills and dispatched a quick prayer to the digestion gods.

The meds slowly eased the agony enough for me to fall asleep. But.

Sure enough, in the wee middle of the night, I woke up sick as my old tabby cat after a heavy catnip bender. Getting out of bed was no easy feat; the world was spinning worse than an old Iron Butterfly video. I felt my way to the bathroom, took a step toward the toilet, and promptly passed out. The next thing I remember was my dear wife screaming at the top of her lungs. I managed to peer open an eye, and suddenly I was in the movie Helter Skelter. From my vcarrieantage point sprawled on the floor, the bathroom looked like . . . , well, let’s just say it weren’t pretty. I hadn’t seen that much blood since the prom scene in Carrie. Or Helter Skelter, take yer pick. I had apparently konked my noggin on the sink on the way down. Sinks and foreheads don’t mix well.

I took the next day off work to rest, heal up, and catch up on Seinfeld reruns. Fittingly, it seems, the first one I tuned in to was the episode in which Jerry is accused of being a rabid anti-dentite because of his skittish reaction to dentists. Indeed. I was able to funnel some warm soup into me in order to prevent the pain meds from bursting forth violently from my bod again.

When I checked my e-mail later that morning, I found one of those robotically-dispatched surveys from the dentist office, asking me about my recent experience. Was I satisfied? Was the office clean? Etc., etc.

I typed four words: “No soup for you!” Not sure why, seemed to make sense at the time. Probably the pain meds. Not that there’s anything wrong with them.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

Sorry, Kids: There Ain’t No Betty Crocker

2 Dec

by Roger White

So I was watching “Seinfeld” for the eleventy-millionth time the other night, mainly because there is absolutely nothing on TV worth watching these days other than reruns of “Seinfeld,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” and “The Twilight Zone.” I know, I know, you young whippersnappers will hold forth that there are some great new shows today, like “Murder, She Wrote” and “The Big Band Theorem” or whatever. I’ll stick with the classics, thank you very much. Don’t you love the word eleventy-million?

not that theresAnyway, I realized that the shtick Seinfeld was doing was aimed right at me. He was talking about pretentious, faux-authentic-sounding brand names, particularly cars. Names like the Integra or the Impreza. They’re made-up names that are meant to sound like other meaningful words, like integrity and impressive. The punch line: Seinfeld simply hoped he hadn’t bought a Lemona. It hit me that the last three cars I owned before my current little Korean vehicle were just that: an Integra, an Impreza, and a Lemona. All true, I previously owned a 1986 Acura Integra (a great car), a 2003 Subaru Impreza (a fast but frustrating car), and a 1979 Lemona (a VW bug—a true bomb I never should have purchased).  Don’t ask me what I was thinking, buying a 35-year-old POS as my daily commute. Besides, that’s another story. A very sad, long story.

Again, anyway. Things then got cosmic as I sat pondering Jerry’s sage words. It struck me as I lifted a spoonful of my Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter flavored ice cream to my mouth. My ice cream brand, too, was a made-up name meant to sound exotic and luxurious. Remember when Häagen-Dazs first hit the haagen whatmarket? Ooh, we thought, super rich frozen goodness from some strange Nordic country where they surely make ice cream from virgin glacial streams, from milk of cows that graze only on Alpine truffles, and from melted gold flakes from Icelandic lava flows. Or something. Turns out, Häagen-Dazs is a nonsense word concocted by one Reuben Mattus from the Bronx. The name, which is not Danish or Swedish or anything slightly lederhosen-ish, doesn’t really mean a thing—except that ol’ Reuben was a marketing genius.

Same with Löwenbräu beer. Back in 1975, just about the time I started my prolific and illustrious drinking career, Miller Brewing of the US of A acquired the North American rights to Löwenbräu, which was originally brewed in Munich. Ya know, the real Germany. Well, when Miller got hold of it, they “Americanized” the recipe, and the original German version of Löwenbräu was no longer imported to our fair shores. Basically, the Löwenbräu we got was Miller swill in an umlaut-sprinkled wrapper. Of course, we young and impressionable drinking types had Millerbrauabsolutely no knowledge of this. We just saw a new, mysterious foreign beer on the market—in a green bottle, even! The name was obviously German, and if anybody knew their brew, it was the Germans. We was hoodwinked.

Same holds true with so many other brands, like bottled water types. I really never understood the billion-dollar explosion of the bottled water industry. It’s water. In a plastic bottle. Water! H2O. This is where brand-name marketing gurus have a field day. There’s one out there called, get this, Glaceau Smartwater. I kid you not. And I not you kid. Both parts of that faux moniker evoke good feelings, don’t they? Aah, a pristine glacier. And intelligent liquid. What could be better? An intellectual body of glacial ice—you can’t get more new-age trendy than that. You know who produces Glaceau Smartwater? Coca-Cola. I picture guys in the back of these massive Coke plants running tap water into these oh-so-fashionable containers of Water de Glaceau. And they’re probably smoking, too. Unfiltered Camels. And laughing.

And don’t get me started on Evian. Look at your Evian bottle in a mirror. Yeah.

uh huh

So. Cogitating on this unsettling realization that so many of the products we consume are purchased under false pretenses, I jogged in a mild panic from the den to the kitchen, where my lovely esposa was making a batch of Betty Crocker pancakes. Paranoia was setting in, so I had to check it out. I ran to the computer and googled “Betty Crocker.” Gads, sure enough. There was no such lady!! Say it ain’t so! I quote from Wiki-whatsis: “The name Betty Crocker was created for the Washburn Crosby Company, later to merge with General Mills, as a way to personalize the company’s products and customer relations. The company picked the name because it sounded warm and friendly.”

I was aghast. Agog. I needed comfort food. “Ah, pancakes. Thanks, dear. Pass the Aunt Jemima.”

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.