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Feeling Long in the Broken Tooth
Gratitude on a Saturday afternoon
This morning I encountered a meme that one might only find on Instagram. A man is shown doing push-ups on a lawn in what looks like Hawaii. The caption reads, “I woke up. I have clothes to wear. I have running water. I have food to eat. Life is good. I am thankful.”
After being up all night with a broken-tooth toothache – did you know that dental offices in Davis get to take Fridays off? – I finally slept from about 7 AM to 10 AM, meaning that my wife on crutches let the dog out, cleaned the kitchen, and made our son Jukie a three-egg spinach omelet. When I awoke, I felt like that self-congratulatory fitness buff in Hawaii. My meme would sound like this: “I woke up. I have soft t-shirts to wear. I have running water. I have Kate. I am enjoying a short respite from demoralizing tooth pain. Life is good. I am thankful.”
Speaking of gratitude, right now I’m listening to Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads, an album that spent more than two years on the Billboard 200 chart, a crucial time period that for me lasted from my junior year in high school to my freshman year in college. I probably would not have loved the album so much if it had not been for the 1984 concert film directed by Jonathan Demme, a film that just last year was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Accompanying my friend Moose to the Circle West End Theatre on 23rd Street in Washington DC, I was simultaneously introduced to concert films and to Talking Heads.
I wrote much of this week’s pub quiz in an Adirondack chair in the back yard, with our French bulldog Margot looking under the trampoline for Charlie, the neighborhood cat who seems to love our yard the most. Later I am going to take a long walk with Jukie as we wend our way towards a favorite Mexican restaurant. I will call my mom so I can hear whatever updates she has to share. The pain is not as bad during the day.
This month Kate and I spent tens of thousands of dollars propping up our sinking home and getting the garage floor redone. Such are the vagaries of the ownership of a home built on unstable farmland the same year (1992) that Kate and I got married. I’m grateful that we have built our relationship on a sounder foundation than that of our expensive house. I think of the beginning of a favorite Talking Heads tune (“Girlfriend is Better”):
I, who took the money?
Who took the money away?
I, I, I, I, it's always showtime
Here at the edge of the stage
Later Kate and I folded some clothes together, and then decided which of our remaining t-shirts are bookcase-worthy – we are waiting on replacements after giving our long-serving dressers away to our daughter Geneva after she moved into an apartment on the west side of town. My favorites are the four Oxford University t-shirts that somehow always make it onto my shelf, even though my former student, Melissa, sent shirts for everyone in the family. We don’t know what happened to Melissa, but we do know that Daddy loves to sleep in the softest shirts we’ve ever been gifted.
With the warm and lazy mid-May sun heading towards the west, and with my tooth pain held in abeyance for a few more hours, I think of what the poet and essayist Cynthia Ozick says: “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” Resolving to take note of what matters most, I myself am grateful finally to have had some sleep this morning, I’m grateful for the weekend that is almost as long as my dentist’s, I’m grateful for Benzocaine, and I’m grateful for a partner who makes me laugh and smile while we put away our socks, shirts, and bows. Only one look from Kate, and that's all that it takes. As Talking Heads say at the end of that song “Girlfriend is Better,” “I got a girlfriend with bows in her hair / And nothing is better than that (is it?).”
I write a pub quiz every week for supporters on Patreon. This week’s Pub Quiz will touch on topics raised above, as well as the following: Expectations, California islands, esports, promising sequels, the time that Cher stood alone, George Orwell, volcanoes, the story of one’s life, tennis standouts, local kings, old people in swimsuits, French classics, performing organisms, Irish band locations, regional temperature records, ambassadors, government languages, Klugman projects, autobiographies, national parks, renamed frogmen, glamorous songs, three-word titles, prolific actors, ridiculousness, people named Peter, buteos, prominent nicknames, Russian empire exports, famous hams, current events, and Shakespeare.
If you enjoy these newsletters and would like to support me, and thus subscribe to the weekly pub quiz, please check me out on Patreon. Thanks to the teams the Outside Agitators, the Original Vincibles, and Quizimodo who support this effort generously.
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P.S. Here are three questions from last week’s Pub Quiz:
Newspaper Headlines. NASA's Curiosity Rover has evidently spotted which of the following on the planet Mars: A doorway, an obelisk, a tombstone, a waterfall?
Stephen King Cinematic Remakes. What movie released this week did Rolling Stone call “A Four-Alarm Disaster”?
Celebrity Birthplaces. All of the following Americans were born in what city that starts with the letter L: Bob Hope, Jerry Springer, Slash, Elizabeth Taylor?
P.P.S. “You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” Ralph Waldo Emerson