Saturday, July 14, 2012

"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me tooth."

Today, I feel the need to reveal one of my many neuroses. A few weeks back, I was talking with some friends and the conversation somehow turned to cavities. I proudly announced that I had never had one. Later, I started to ponder the nature of that pride as well as my almost obsessive attention to oral hygiene, and I came to a few conclusions...

Let me start by saying that I know there is no shame in having cavities. I'm sure (without having done any research) that the majority of people living in countries where there is ready access to modern dentistry have had at least one filling in their lives. I have nothing against these people, nor do I think the development of their cavities was the result of some kind of gross negligence on their parts. Yet when it comes to my own teeth, I am horrified of the idea of them. So I started to wonder where this horror comes from.

I don't fear the dentist. I'm one of those masochists who love having their teeth cleaned. Granted, I have never experienced the dentist's drill, but I'm really not afraid of that either. The majority of my baby teeth were extracted by a trained professional. And I've already said that cavities themselves don't bother me, at least on a philosophical level.

The best way to describe how I feel about my teeth is to use an analogy. For the past 24 years, I have been playing a game with myself. And for every day, week, year that goes by without a cavity, I win. BUT the moment one appears, I lose.

It's not unlike the classic gameshow Press Your Luck. As is the case on Press Your Luck, the game I play with my teeth is a mix of both luck and skill. I do all I can to make my teeth healthy; I brush twice daily, I use mouth wash, and I love to floss (masochistic, remember), but even then, the "Whammy" could show up and I would lose. What's more, each time I win (i.e. my dentist praises my perfect teeth), my jackpot (i.e. my irrational pride) increases, making the prospect of losing all the worse. It would almost have been better to get a cavity as a kid because now I live in constant fear of that Whammy. But that isn't the saddest part. Nor is it my weird, obsessive dental hygiene.

The saddest part is that the only way for me to win this game is to die. Without any cavities.

So that in the end, the prize I'm playing for is to have some mortician, or perhaps some archaeology students in the distant future, look at my remains and think, "Damn. That corpse has some beautiful teeth."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Recommendation: Awkward.

A few weeks ago, my friend Cailey introduced me to a comedy that airs on MTV, of all places. It's called Awkward. and it's about a teenage girl named Jenna, who is, unsurprisingly, quite awkward. The premise is not unique - unpopular girl tries to navigate the murky waters of high school - but the execution is fantastic. It all starts when "invisible girl" Jenna receives a "carefrontation" letter from an anonymous source, which is immediately followed by a terrible accident and a huge misunderstanding, and well, you'll just have to watch it. It's a pretty cringe-worthy first 10 minutes or so.

Ashley Rickards, who plays Jenna, is cute and snarky with enough self-awareness to keep the (many) awkward moments from becoming painful. Her narration throughout the show maintains its endearing quality without becoming too contrived, and while I question the character's decision to keep a public blog that reads like a Live Journal (remember those?), I find it easy and fulfilling to shake my head and smile at her many teenage woes, because who among us hasn't been there? Ok, maybe not there, exactly, but Jenna is very relatable, regardless.

And though I feel much too old to be invested in the travails of high school students, invested I have inevitably become, because it's not so trashy that I feel bad about myself for watching, yet but just trashy enough to keep things interesting. Besides that, this show is genuinely funny; the writers are witty without becoming inaccessible and deftly employ "oh my god" moments that result in hearty, albeit embarrassed, laughter. And the language on these kids! You will be amazed at the number of euphemisms for sex they are able to come up with.

The third episode of the second season airs tonight, but you can catch up on the whole series at (if you live in the US. Sorry UK readers!). And since each episode is only about 20 minutes long, you have no reason not to watch them all this weekend. Check out the trailer below: