Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Random Patches and Commitments

Yesterday Hub handed me the quilt that we always use for a bit of extra coziness when sitting in the big chair. The quilt is very old. Well past its prime. I think I bought that quilt 10 years ago, maybe more.

It’s not exactly pretty and after endless washings, the batting is lumpy. In fact, there is only one positive thing to say and that is how soft threadbare cotton becomes as it reverts to filmy mesh. The quilt should really be discarded, but still when Hub sits there under that quilt and inspects it and announces there are three new rips, what do I do?

I do what I did yesterday. Haul out the sewing machine and patch it yet again. But why do I do it when I could just as easily, re-cover it, or even throw the damn thing out? Because for some stupid reason every time this happens, I ask for Hub’s opinion. And always he says the same thing.

“It would be downright foolish to re-cover that old thing. Don’t do that. It has a few new rips but a couple of patches can readily fix that.” This from the practical, no-nonsense man who immediately discards every other thing in this house with minor failings, and actively encourages me, the hoarder, to do the same.

So I concede and mend it yet again even though it has now reached the point where there are patches overlapping patches, all of which have colors that bare no relationship to each other or the original quilt.

I really don’t know what is up with Hub and that old tattered quilt. I guess the practical man has inadvertently let the comfort of it get too close to a small magnetic spot somewhere in his chest. A place where there is a tiny wee ‘soft spot’ of fixed commitment to a person or thing (no matter how decrepit), that he doesn’t even know he has.

Now, I want you to hold that thought while I tell you something as unrelated to this story as the random patches on the old quilt.

I’ve had a sore mouth for a couple of months. The dentist told me on my last visit that I should keep my bottom teeth at all costs despite a rapid decline in the sturdiness they once had. So that’s what I’m doing.

But now, one of my two front teeth has been protesting for months that it is time to go. And when that one goes, they will all need to go, because the dentist told me the rest are too weak to support a partial plate. And he promised me that a full plate was not a good option. So now it appears that I am cornered and the only option I have left is to get that fool-tooth yanked out and work as best I can with one front tooth instead of two. It’s not a pleasant thought but what else can I do?

I will give it some thought because I am really ‘proud’ of how ‘non-vain’ I am, but having said that, even I can’t face life with a gap in my front teeth. I don’t understand the thought-processing of those who MUST HAVE a breast implant, silicone lips, hair dye, or a nose job to impress, but this scenario falls way outside of those parallels. This is quite different.

Two front teeth are fundamental. One can’t go around, no matter what, with a tooth-gap in the front of their mouth. Such a flaw erases all social graces with S’s that hiss, spittal that sprays, and contributes way-too-exactly to the look of a Halloween hag.

So let’s not call that vanity. That is something else for which I don’t think there is a proper name. Is there an appropriate word for something dictated by invariable laws of balance, expectation, precision, and the integrity of a yawn, a smile, a kiss, an ‘s’, and an ‘o’? Still, surely you understand that even without a proper descriptive word for such a circumstance, I can no more leave a gap in my teeth than I can leave a hole in the old quilt.

I remain quietly frustrated. Torn between my weak regard for dentists, the pain in my mouth, and the scarce options I have for fixing the problem. It’s pretty much my problem, my decision what to do about it, so I quietly endure my discomfort without complaint. Still Hub knows. He has noticed that lately I am refusing to eat salads or raw veggies. Finally yesterday, in frustration, as I plucked the lettuce and tomato from a sandwich, he snapped at me, that if my teeth are sore, maybe I should go see a dentist.

Now I have to tell you, with impending age, I find myself almost daily perched between opposing forces: Enthusiasm vs. fatigue, optimism vs. pessimism, and determination vs. giving in or giving up. And now I have Hub nastily snapping at me because I am putting off getting my teeth fixed.

It’s all too much. Suddenly frustration and self-pity overwhelm me and I feel my foothold giving way. My spirits plunging downward into a depressive abbess. Into that chasm that I so daily confront and in the confronting of it use every microbe of my ever-weakening determination to avoid.

There’s no denying it. Hub’s voice is angry and impatient and that, combined with my already frustrated concerns about my teeth, blasts me into a defeatist nosedive. But then suddenly I am snatched from my hurtling descent by a silly grin and a bland remark.

“Never mind Roberta. You do what you need to do when you are ready. It matters not to me cause I plan to keep you till you’re ninety.”

(That was my foregone conclusion, but it was exceptionally nice to hear verbalization of the thought). And I can’t help thinking that luckily that old quilt and I are both sealed to that tiny commitment spot in his chest that makes his usual acts of rash discard equally impossible.

My mood is lightened. I even snicker. Cause in all this generosity he has missed a major point. He obviously isn’t projecting himself into the future reality of keeping an old hag with an ugly gap in her teeth, who not only nags, but hisses and spits as well. But maybe, it won’t matter that much. Perhaps I can get my lips plumped up with enough silicone to shield the black hole in my face.

If not, I can stay in the big chair and cover my face with the old quilt.


Kate said...

This is too funny, Roberta. While at the same time being touching. Old husband, old quilt, old teeth, old you. But I know you are quite younger than I am. So my words of wisdom are two things I recently discovered: try not to think too much; and let most of what you think about in the way of worry go. When, as Nora, I came to the Twilight Zone, my friend Tillie had lost a front tooth. My little granddaughter thought she was a witch. So I urge you not to let that happen. Maybe get another opinion. An implant? A cap? My two upper front teeth are capped.

Let us know what you decide.

Matty said...

I agree with Kate...Roberta! What a pickle you're in!
I have a cousin who's only 40 and she lost her front tooth to something she bit down on...and she does look like a crone. I've asked her if she is not going to do something about it..and she said No...why bother?
Well...I'm in the same spot. My dentist wants me to keep my lower...but once I finally get home and have some time...I definitely will get the care I need for my upper back teeth...they ache constantly..and if I lost a front one...(I'm not that vain) but I do tend to laugh and smile a lot...I would definitely get it capped!
I want people to laugh with me...not at me.
I know how hub feels about the quilt...I have its mate at home.
Wonderful post as usual.

Roberta S said...

kate, you certainly picked up all the parallels in this story. Glad you found humor in it, even though I'm not laughing. I will let you know what happens and thanks for reminding me there should be other options for me (though I can't be sure until I read the fine print in my Dental Insurance plan).

Roberta S said...

Hi matty. Nice to see you. And although its really nice to know we have matching quilts, it ain't so nice to know we both have dental problems.

You're so right, we do have to examine our options here -- we can't just quit smiling.

As always, enjoyed the chat. Hope all is well with you and loved ones.

S L Cunningham said...


Patching holes in the quilt is a lot easier than patching holes in our relationships and our sense of self. Patching a quilt we've hung onto to is out of an accepted need for what the quilt represents to us. It takes on a feel of familiarity that gives us a certain sense of security. That is why we don't throw it out, or recover it.

Sorry about the predicament you are in with your teeth. Even with a dental plan, major work is still expensive. I had to have a couple of crowns put in, and after my insurance paid its 50%, I still had to come up with $700.


Roberta S said...

Hi scot. Guess that pretty much explains why I am still here and so is the old quilt.

Thanks for the concerns about my teeth. And yes, a big part of my frustration is the totally unreasonable expense of some of my other options.

Joy Des Jardins said...

You and that quilt might be the only two treasures in that whole house that Hub will never be able to let go of. Ugly gap in her teeth or not....he's willing to give you the space you need to take to figure out what you want to do...of if in fact you want to do anything at this time Roberta....such a love. I understand your dilemma sweetie...I think a cap would be an excellent solution...relatively quick and easy; and let's face it....nowadays nothing's cheap.

Roberta S said...

Hi joy. Thanks for stopping in to chat. I may check out a cap -- (since it seems I'm not going anywhere), I'll be still here to get the dental work done. Whatever the outcome it might even lead to another story.

Pauline said...

Oh those comfort things, things that hug us back - husbands, old quilts.

I'm with the tooth-capping crowd. I had one of my front teeth capped so as not to scare folks when I smiled. There is something off-putting about a wide front gap.

Cowtown Pattie said...

I have dentist phobia, thus I also have problematic teeth.

Starting from about age 5, I have ranked dentists right up there with the Marquis de Sade.

Except when you are in excrutiaing pain from a broken tooth. Then, you would allow Attila the Hun to work his magic.

I love old quilts - maybe therein lies the problem - we love them to death.

Roberta S said...

Nice thoughts, pauline, about comforts. And everyone here, yourself included, seems quite unaminous about the need for me to fill the front-tooth gap if that is what I end up with.

Roberta S said...

cowtown pattie, how you make me smile about our shared quirky little pleasures in quilts and agonies in dentists. Thanks for visiting and thanks for commenting.

Suzz said...

Oh, do get your teeth fixed and take the quilt with you to cover up and snuggle with while in the dentist chair. I've also discovered a small radio with ear phones tuned to a rock and roll or classic station can also help ease the discomfort.

Roberta S said...

Great advice, suzz. I'll take it.