About 4 years ago, my dentist accepted a teaching position at the University and handed his practice over to a former female KGB agent* who had no understanding of the damage done to the nerves of my mouth and how it is virtually impossible to freeze my teeth properly, and I’m squirming because I am in actual honest to goodness pain, and after having 15 teeth removed in 3 days when I was 12, I have been scared of dentists ever since anyway.
I got the note advising me of my dentists new job in the mail and I realized something about adult life.
When we are younger, we think it will be the big things of life that consume our time. We think it will be the debates about politics and democracy and the rights of the marginalized that will make us sweat bullets at 3 am. We think we will discuss the plight of Sudan and Samuel P. Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations theory at dinner parties.
It turns out that my real world practical problems revolve around things like finding a dentist and dealing with the underwear situation. The underwear situation has been an ongoing problem. I have been in the US 3 times in the last year, and I have dutifully checked every GAP I could reasonably get myself to. No underwear. A whole lot of embarrassed 17 year old boys though.
I bought other underwear in the interim. From a variety of stores. I would be so hopeful as I held them up in the store, thinking that maybe I had solved the problem, maybe I would like these as much as that one pair from the GAP, the pair I was starting to think were created and sold to me by a mythical store, made by a particularly devious and cruel witch who executed a plan to make the most comfortable pair ever, and then cease making them entirely, leaving me yearning for world filled with good underwear.
I was down to one last pair from the GAP in the style I liked, and I would actually ration that pair. I would only let myself wear them every second week, and I would only wear them for a day that I thought could use some help – a big meeting, a frustrating lack of progress, dealing with difficult people. Every morning I would look at that one pair, and I would carefully move them aside and put on another pair that were going to drive me crazy about half an hour after.
Go ahead, tell me that’s pathetic. You won’t be the first.
After discovering that the only GAP in the LA basin that might sell the underwear I wanted was a 30 mile down the interstate journey, I almost gave up. The underwear was going to be like the dentist, a thing I should be able to solve, a seemingly simple thing that was never quite going to be right again. I was going to lie in bed late at night and think about those halcyon days when the dentist didn’t hurt me and I had comfortable underwear. Those were going to be the golden days I was nostalgic for.
I checked the GAP website one last time, and Lo! They would ship my underwear to Canada now!
So I bought some. Enough that I wasn’t going to have this problem any time soon.
Enough in this case turns out to be 13 pairs.
It was going to be 14 pairs, but they only had 13 in stock. I reserve the right to order more in a month or so. I may actually start hording underwear.
It was the most money I have ever spent on underwear, the cost was really staggering.
But . . .
I’m freed up to think seriously about the dentist problem now.
*It is possible that she wasn’t an actual KGB agent, but I rush to assure you, when someone is standing over you with metal spiky pointy things and yelling at you in a Russian accent, you feel the urge to make up stories about nuclear arms race information you patently do not have – to make her and the spiky metal instruments of pain go away.