humor writing

Negative space

I had to drink out of the side of my mouth to get the taste of glue out since half of me was still numb. I went back to the dentist, Dr. Chan, the first time in years, with lots of work to be done. After the hydro-scaling I got hand-scaled, and then it was time to move me, change sunglasses. And with my head thrown back and the two of them in my mouth, it felt pornographic: six of them pulling and pressing and rubbing, drilling and filling me at different pitches and tones, the suction, the doorknob they told me to bite down on, to keep my jaws open: the fact my tongue kept fighting them like a doped-up lizard and the doctor had to pin it down with his thumbs: me, realizing my hands were clasped and lower back arched, butt cheeks clenched, lips cracked: the torture scene from 1984, my face eaten by a rat—or worse, a metaphor, an imagined rat, the savagery of dentistry, Nazis, nerve sacs, small tools, my imagination. The look of my teeth on the flatscreen and my fillings the color of chicken fat, sickly yellow. Dr. Chan, filling me full of composite and topping it off with glue and then sanding it down and cauterizing it, reassuring me you’re doing great, Bill. Doing great.

Reminded of the fact I have geographic tongue, whatever that means. The image of continents taking shape in the form of some unexplained fungus that mutates over time. Reflecting darkly, this is what it means to be a writer: to feel the need to say something even if you can’t, geographic tongue. It gets around, but no one knows how or why, or where it comes from.

When I got home I went right for the beer and the back yard and sat with the cat and a small green bug crawling up my arm, reflecting on the cloud cover, the drooping pansies and peonies, reminded of an image on the eBook I’m writing at work by the header, a logo that forms a negative space that’s soothing, and why?: because the mind needs a place to go without walls, a free space, the place in between the forced imagery where we can let go, and just be.

I got it in my head I needed to fix things around the house and started with the deadbolt latch on the front door that fell off, requires a custom-sized screw I don’t have the patience to find, though I’ve tried. The kids had some gum, so I chewed a piece and balled it up in the slot and stuck the latch back on and then went out in the garage for the carpenter glue to fix the finial cap on the wall clock that keeps falling off from the cat chewing the tip (has bad teeth, chews on things to sooth).

I got that done and then went back to the recliner, put on John Coltrane and felt for my lip but still couldn’t feel it, though it was there.

The client for the eBook doesn’t like white space, wants us to fill it. Doesn’t care for nonsensical paragraph breaks even though they’re not nonsensical, they’re deliberate.

Because we all need a break,

some space to take a breath,

and think for ourselves.

(What’s so negative about that?)