The tooth incident compromised my judgment. I panicked. I wanted guidance, or I wanted to win thousands of dollars on a scratch ticket. I’m not that lucky. I called my Irish Catholic grandmother, known as Nana. She is my dad’s mother. I called and explained the issue. She tsk’ed a lot. She said, “Well, this is why you need to work.” I had quit my retail job. My brain imploded. I explained that the job and the tooth were unrelated. The job wasn’t going to give me dental and I wasn’t going to make $2,600 there either. That is probably where I should have stopped, but she had hit a sore spot. A sore spot made up of me working since I was sixteen. A sore spot where deciding to quit my retail job and focus on graduate school was a constant struggle because I felt like everything was a lavish expense. I was living on loans. It is something people do. I still feel guilty about it. So, when Nana in her nana way brought up the idea that I was not working, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I was looking for some kind voice to say, “Dear, I’m sorry, let’s figure this out together.” She didn’t. She compared me to my parents. So, I explained to her if she wanted me to work at a job where I made $2,600 to account for this unforeseen dental issue I should start dealing drugs or go into prostitution.
Nana did not approve.
She told me to call back when I came to my senses. I was feeling impulsive and fantasized about how hard it would be for her to play “Who has the best grandchild?” with her friends if I had teeth missing in the front. I thought about getting it pulled simply out of spite. Can’t put my picture up now, can you?
I later got a call from another family member. “You need to call Nana and apologize because she is taking it out on everybody else. I know it’s hard. Just take the help.”
Help? I don’t know about you, but everything in my family comes with a price. Love, food, money. Supposedly, it doesn’t, but there is always an undercurrent I feel. A sensation that I must return on their investment. I should send them Power Points detailing my progress and accomplishments, itemized budgets and receipts of where there $100 went to. It isn’t that I’m ungrateful. I am lucky in a way. Members of my family helped pay for me to go to a much better school system. I received a much better education in an emotionally safe place when I was particularly vulnerable. I mean who isn’t in high school? But, there is a rule of reciprocation. They do these things out of the goodness of their hearts? Kind of. They paid for me to go to school, but no one every picked me up. I was the last kid in the parking lot, waiting. They paid for me to go to school, but I had to steal uniforms from the lost and found because my parents and I couldn’t afford them.
So, I guess that offers a little bit of background. I contacted a dentist a couple of hours away I had not seen since 2008. He, the dentist himself, called me back. I felt like it was my first bit of luck. I set up an appointment and discussed cost along with possible dental issues.
Now it was acceptable to call and make an apology, now that I had made progress. I apologized. “I’m sorry if what I said upset you.” Which is a backwards apology, but it was the best I could muster. We arranged lunch before my dentist appointment.
And here, good people, of the internet is JUDGMENT LUNCH
A no holds bar, UFC smack down, where and Irish Catholic grandmother is allotted a half-hour, while buying you a sandwich to rehash all of your shortcomings, disappointments, and failings spanning both physical and personal.
The one rule: You take it.
Mostly I imagine myself in the fetal position just letting the old woman kick me over and over again.
That is judgment lunch, and probably why I still have all the teeth in the front of my face.
Because after being reduced to a mental fetal position that will wreak havoc on your psyche for years to come, she paid for half of the procedures, drastically less than anticipated. We are at an estimated $525. I put the rest on my credit card.
At which point I spent 3 hours at the dentist office, getting x-rays, a cleaning, and a giant filling. Apparently, a filling never fell out! I had been wrong the whole time. It was actually a cavity that had gotten so bad, my tooth, the actual tooth chipped while I was at the retail job such a long time ago.
In closing, it was an adventure filled with some battles, but I suppose in the end I came out on top, at least with all my teeth, even if I can’t eat any solid food for a week.