His Hope Street flat’s about to be knocked down and, as if the fates have aligned, his teeth are crumbling too. Gorilla columnist Matt Roper is taking refuge in the past and after having had one tooth out this week, he’s not much looking forward to what may happen to the rest of them
Out with the old, in with the new. It’s been a week of synchronicity if there ever was one. I’ve had a tooth extracted from my mouth (where else?) while a new sink has been fitted into our desolate bathroom.
The old sink was slowly moving away from the wall and I don’t blame it for trying to escape this crumbling flat. Even the bugs that once wandered in and out of the place at their own free will at last seem to have surrendered.
It was no sooner than the new sink had been fitted into place than we got word that the landlord – a figure shrouded in mystery – has decided to sell up. This bit of land in Brooklyn is said to be worth several millions of dollars. The hovel on Hope Street, like the tooth that once sat happily in my mouth for over thirty years, will be no more.
If my mouth were as profitable as the bit of land I live on, construction could start on it right away. There’s a gaping hole in the back of it that you can see when I laugh, apparently. I might as well try and rent it out as advertising space.
I wish I earned the sort of money that the man who extracted my tooth earns in such a short amount of time – $400 to pull a tooth and it took him about two and a half minutes to do it – though believe me it felt like a lot longer while he was up to it. What a weird thing to pay a stranger to do. It was as if he was trying to break a door down.
But American dentists should drop the smalltalk that they like to make between administering the anesthetic and waiting for it to kick in. Americans come up to me all the time, feeling the need to tell me I have “good teeth for a Brit” (the most backhanded of compliments) and I don’t need to hear it from the dentist of all people. Not when he’s charging me the equivalent of about half a month’s rent to hear it.
Anyway, I asked to keep the tooth. It’s sitting in a shot glass on my bookshelf, close to The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi, Malcolm Hardee’s I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake and Louis Barfe’s Turned Out Night Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment. Am I living in the past, with those books and that tooth? I’d say so and I worry.
I’ve just been to over to the bookshelf to peer at the tooth again and it’s like looking at something out of a science fiction film. Like unidentifiable alien matter or something worse. But what I should do with it? The truth is, I’m displaying the tooth as though it is some sort of accomplishment whereas actually we all know it’s a sign of my decline.
And speaking of decline, this flat we live in is the epitome of it – aside from the new sink, of course, which dazzles away in the bathroom totally out of place in its new surroundings. But it is an outward statement to the effect that we are surviving and will continue to survive until the bulldozers come rolling down Hope Street like the Soviet tanks that once rolled into Prague, circa 1968.
It’s time I started rolling into bed. Maybe I should place the tooth under my pillow tonight for You-Know-Who, while she’s doing her rounds in the middle of the night. Perhaps she’ll fly in through the window while I’m snoozing and reimburse me the $400 I’ve had to shell out getting the wretched tooth removed. But does the Tooth Fairy come to Brooklyn? And does she carry dollar bills?
Yes. One tooth down, 31 to go.
Matt Roper is a British comedian based in New York City. His relationship with Lush goes back to 2011 when he performed for the muddy festival-goers of Lushfest, returning the following year to curate the line-up of the comedy stage. As he travels around the world, he shares his musings with us here in a series of writings – a sifting of thought from a restless but always seeking imagination.
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