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Me and My Big Mouth

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

I have a big mouth... in every sense. First, I say too much. If laying one's cards on the table is a crime, I'm guilty.

I say, "You may not like me, but you know where I'm coming from." When I do, sometimes there is a joker a bit too quick to agree, indicating with a wink his agreement with both clauses of the sentence, the knowing and the not liking. That's fine. One of my mottos is, "I don't care if you're laughing at me, as long as you're laughing."

I am told that lack of discretion about my private world is reflected in my astrological chart, where:

my Moon (my private interiority)
my Pluto (my shadowy trickiness: "You may not like me, but you know where I'm coming from.") and
my Sun (my daylight personality)
are conjunct (positioned on top of each other in the sky at the moment I was born) so they conflate and strongly influencing each other.

I make public parts of my intimate world that most people keep secret. When it comes to maintaining other people's confidences, I am as silent as the grave. But about myself, I share unshareable things.

This airing of personal matters is a great aid when I am trying to get patients to open up to me. Typically, I share a private instance from my life and ask if they have ever experienced something similar. It works. I've had many patients reveal some intimate secret to me, and then add in the next breath, wondering at themselves, "I've never told anyone that before."

However, in normal social discourse, this baring of what is usually concealed is another story. It makes people, who hold their cards close to their chest, uncomfortable. Particularly ill at ease are those who are not conversant with their own shadows. On the other hand, such self-revelation sometimes has quickly made me fast friends among the more adventurous.

In the literal sense, my mouth is physically big. At 5'8" I am neither tall nor short. Aside from the small pot-belly I have developed in my later years, I am thin, with small bones and small muscle bodies. But I have a big head. If you borrow one of my baseball caps, the odds are you'll have to adjust the strap to make it a good deal smaller. My head is big and so is my mouth.

However well this correlation, big head, big mouth, might reflect on my intelligence, it had some negative consequences at the dentist's last week. A big mouth, at least in my case, means big, long dental roots, and that spelt trouble extracting the molar whose time had come.

Twenty-five years ago, that tooth suddenly and without warning broke. All at once, I felt a pressure in my jaw, and then it cracked. The dentist, who put a crown over what was left of it back then, did a bad job. (There aren't that many good accountants. There aren't that many good lawyers. There aren't that many good dentists...)

Food got in under the crown and those nasty bugs, feeding on it where I couldn't brush them away, have been gradually rotting the stub away. Finally, and only quite recently, I noticed a sick feeling when biting down on it.

I have a lot of confidence in my dentist here. This is not because I know a lot about dentistry. I don't. That Dr. Rafael has a winning personality, a lot of credentials, and he teaches dentistry to dental students is part of the story. But what really impresses me is his proven expertise in other regards. He is a pilot of both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. Not tall, he was yet his university basketball team's "secret weapon." Brought in towards the end of a close game, they called him "Triplero" for his ability to sink the long, three-point shots. Then, he is a black-belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Not Dr. Rafael

Dr. Rafael first tried to save my molar, investing two visits in the effort. At our third visit, he announced that it would have to go. As I say, the extraction was made much, much more complicated by my big mouth, my molar's deep roots.

I will spare you the details, except to say that the process took two days. After the first, lasting 1.5 hours, Dr. Rafael passed the baton to his brother, Dr. Miguel in the adjacent office, to pull, wiggle and cut out those two stubborn roots, in a second hour-plus session the following day.

It's hard to keep your mouth open that long for anything, let alone a very physical contest of strength. I was able to disassociate, to somewhat leave my body, to take a deep breath and sink into another dimension... auto-hypnosis, I suppose. From that distance the whole thing seemed like a slapstick show, a very long scene, from a Charlie Chaplin or Keystone Cops movie, over-the-top, violent, pathetic. If it hadn't been happening to me, if my mouth weren't full of fingers, saws and pliers, I would have laughed.

I was able to maintain this disassociated observer status because of my confidence in my dentists and because, remarkably enough, the entire episode was virtually pain-free; thanks to novocaine (first a paste and then injections) in the chair, and self-prescribed homeopathic Arnica taken before. In its aftermath, thanks again to Arnica, all I've suffered are some dull aches, nothing that Tylenol wouldn't cover, if I were inclined to take it, which I'm not.

The worst of it all this past week has been only being able to chew on one side of my mouth. The teeth on the effected side have been far too sensitive for even the softest food until the last day or two. I've mastered the mechanics of unilateral mastication. Even if I wind up swallowing things less well-chewed than I would like them to be, that's not the problem.

The problem is aesthetic, taste. If you only use one half of your mouth, you only get one half of the taste (and maybe even less than that). The bilateral experience is gone, the give and take between the sides. At meal time, it's been as if the right side of my mouth is not with me, like it doesn't exist.

Now, me and my big mouth, this I think is a great metaphor for what is wrong with society today. We are chewing with only one side of our political mouth and can't understand what those, who are chewing on the other side, are tasting. Those thinking on one side of the political divide can't admit or imagine that those on the other side have any reason, any sense, any taste at all.

Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein

Cranial capacity is one thing, but a truly big head is one where both hemispheres are actively engaged with each other, one in which we can see the particular differences (left brain) and keep in mind the unifying whole (right brain).

Life is messy. There are no simple answers, only simple-minded people. As Niels Boehr observed, "Every profound truth contains an opposite, equally profound truth." Now there's something to chew on.


Dr David and his merry band believe that the new expanded Lokkal will change the world, city by city.

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