Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Friday, October 24, 2008

Failure of the Day: High

Having now successfully completed about 30 percent of my year end dental extravaganza, I am now chin deep in love with nitrous oxide. Even though I just heard from a friend who managed to use so much of it that she permanently damaged her liver (and really, how do people get ahold of black market gasses? And in large enough doses to cause irreparable organ damage? Jesus, I need to get out more.) and now requires monthly B-12 shots.

But in the happy and controlled doses offered by the dental girls, I am free to meditate on the nature of whatever it is that got stuck in my head that afternoon without fear of Hep C or any of the other low-impulse-control crowd’s bugaboos. For this week’s appointment, I was focused on the word pulp. The crisis on tooth 15 involved removing some old fillings that were, I was told, perilously close to the tooth’s pulp, whatever fucking horrifying thing that is, and if they got too close, I would need a full-blown root canal.

So pulp it was as they strapped the nosegear on me. But as my arm and legs dissolved into that fantastic electric throb, it seemed to me that books get turned to pulp too, and that I was writing a book about pulp: the soft, vulnerable mush that acts as the stuffing for our bodies, and before too long it was all really cosmic and profound. I was sure I had uncovered a Larger Theme in my novel that I need to remember and incorporate into my writing.

It wasn’t, and I hadn’t, and I didn’t, of course; I was just high. But it was nice way to pass an afternoon, which is pretty impressive considering how many fingers and pointed sticks were in my mouth. I ended up not needing the root canal, and can go back and get another regular old crown in couple of weeks. I’ll get the nitrous for that appointment too.


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