Opinion Columns & Blogs

An old nemesis reaches out and pulls a tooth

They call them “impulse buys’ and they put them at the front of the Wal-Mart checkout lines. They’re usually next to the magazines that show your favorite celebrity — with lips large enough to pull up and over their foreheads, either losing weight or dropping 10 years with a fitness program with a personal trainer because they have time to kill that you don’t and they have every sort of tuck known to consumers while showing off a “baby bump” (a term meant to make the infant sound more like a mole or mosquito bite) at the age of 60.

The magazines are loaded with miracles and not all of them come from God. The “impulse buy” in this case it was my old nemesis — a medium sized and very attractive Snickers candy bar. She (they’re always females aren’t they?), smiled up from the third shelf, saying, “You know you want me, here, on the third shelf, arms- length and one quick move to the conveyer belt, then onto the car for a quickie and I won’t tell a soul.” The “soul” meaning the wife, who does everything she can to put forth a healthy diet for a person getting on in years and waging war against gravity, low testosterone, and the loss of everything taken for granted for near on 70 years.

I’m weak, I succumb to temptation and began eating the thing so fast I hardly knew whether it was indeed a Snickers bar or Milky Way. My mind was also laser beam focused on carefully hiding the evidence before pulling up in the driveway (which can be tricky on a hot day). If this sounds like alcoholism, it’s very close, and if you eat enough of these chocolate delights, you will get a headache.

I’ve been a sucker for these things ever since I got caught stealing one from a convenience store as a 7-year-old. She (think of Eve) was back on the aisle, eye level, and suggested I just pick her up and walk out the door, which was only a few feet away. Nevermind the store clerk; after all, I’m invisible. I should have gotten help then, but who knew?

On the ride home and about halfway through, high as a kite on chocolate, peanuts and caramel, I bit down on what I thought was a rock, placed there by some embittered worker intent on ruining my day. They probably carry these things around in their pockets, I thought, and when the boss isn’t looking, they dump them into the vat. So I stuck my finger in there in an effort to gain evidence to take back to Wal-Mart, hoping for a refund (these things aren’t cheap) and, as it turns out, it was part of a tooth, placed there by God to help me eat fruits and vegetables.

Now I’ve got a real problem trying to drive with one hand holding a tooth covered in chocolate and wondering how I’m going to explain to the “soul” at the house that a mere piece of fruit, perhaps a grape, a tangelo, or maybe a really hard banana, pulled this thing right out of my mouth. There is no way she won’t see the gaping hole between the upper right premolar and that precious molar used for the eating of meat, on the right side of my mouth. Actually, it was only half a tooth but she always takes things to the extreme.

I suppose the lesson here is that we all reap what we sow. It’s strange what you think about when you’re holding a tooth that was supposed to be somewhere else. In this case, I thought about what I would tell that 7-year-old in the convenience store. That candy bars cannot speak to us. That stealing is wrong and things that stick to one’s teeth cannot be good for us. But, the 7-year-old in me says that if I can just get rid of this wrapper, I just might beat the rap. I was wrong about that.

Sonny Harmon is a professor emeritus at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.