The Law of Unintended Consequences

Good morning, y’all. First, the good news, it’s sixty-six days to kickoff between the Dawgs and the Philistines of Clemson. The suspense of waiting to see whether or not our star receiver will be well enough to start in the opener is palpable. God bless the healers.

Speaking of palpable brings me to the bad news. I woke up this morning with my jaw swole up like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter. I’ve got a bad tooth, or teeth, that didn’t take kindly to my late night Milk Duds. I’m guessing I’ve pulled out a filling or two. Unsettling the core has resulted in a seismic eruption. While I’m waiting to see if I can get in for another emergency visit to see my dentist, I’ve had the time to revisit one of my favorite books, “Letters From The Earth” by Mark Twain.

Now, for those of you not quite as familiar with Mr. Twain, he was very popular in his day and was quite wealthy as a result. He was kind of the Jeff Foxworthy of the 1800’s. Unfortunately, as it is today, new wealth wants to hang out with old wealth and the next thing you know, old wealth is still old wealth, but new wealth is no wealth. Mark Twain was broke towards the end of his life and his writing became a bit more sarcastic. The happy stories of Huckleberry Finn gave way to a much more cynical point of view. If you can find a copy of the book, I highly recommend it.

The setup for the book is that Lucifer has been banished to Earth, and the “Letters From The Earth” are his reports on what a foul up God made. I’m particularly partial, no pun intended, to the passage on teeth. I will paraphrase poorly, but it goes something like; “humans are not born with teeth, and at a time when they are too young to understand the pain, are subjected to their gums erupting with these little bits of bone slicing through. One would think this should suffice, but a few years later these “baby teeth” as they call them, are pushed out of the way by another set of teeth called the “permanent teeth”, who are anything but. For the life of the human, the “permanent teeth” are subjected to various pains and abscesses resulting in extractions until the human is finally fitted with what they call “false teeth”. As if they had ever been anything else!”

In my opinion, it should be some kind of law that the actual quote be displayed in every dentist’s office throughout the land, you know, kind of a head’s up. As previously reported, my brother Jackson and I were as likely to get an audience with the Queen of England as we were to get dentist visits. It is a testimony to our hardy forefathers that the steady diet of candy and soda we consumed in our youth didn’t result in Summer teeth for both of us. You know, sum are here, sum are not.

I remember the first time my dentist, Moore Payne, looked in my mouth. He gasped. What he saw was one of his kids going to an Ivy League college. What he had was a brother-in-law who would pay for materials only. Life’s hard, and sometimes having poor relations can make it worse.

Sitting here waiting on my call back and I think about Georgia’s most famous dentist, Doc Holliday. Doc Holliday left his practice in Atlanta for the Southwest in hopes of curing his tuberculosis. Doc eventually left the practice of dentistry all together for a more legitimate profession, gambler and gunslinger. I like to think Doc decided it was more humane to put ’em out of their misery with a gun than a drill.

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