I want to be a dental dunce. I really, really do. The first of my wisdom teeth has declared a very conspicuous appearance, and it’s making me believe that the person who christened these mofo molars as such was probably the same one who came up with that adage, “ignorance is bliss”. I’d rather be a dental dunce than be equipped with intelligent enamel.
Given that like all offspring of doctors, I am predisposed to mild hypochondria (again, strictly genetic – my father looked at a recurring heat boil I had on my knee at 10 and pronounced that I had cancer), a disbelieving friend raised an emoticon eyebrow. “Just wondering if it’s real wisdom or a bad ulcer,” he typed.
Which is ridiculous. Everybody knows that real wisdom can only come from deep reflection, autodidactic curiosity, and a generous infusion of ayahuasca (substitutable by chocolate where required by law).
Wisdom teeth, however, are less discerning. They come inconveniently – like when someone suddenly calls and wants to put your mumbled statements down on record for the press. And when your friends want to treat you to a fancy celebratory lunch (of course, one can always drink the pain away, ahem). They also swell up your cheek – on your good side, too! – so that you’re forced to do that fabulous photo shoot like some demented supermodel gone kawaii-style, all sucked in cheeks and carefully-positioned sign language.
I’ve been flexing my jaws more often than, well, a venus flytrap. It hurts to keep my mouth closed. But it also hurts to eat, to swallow, and to talk, in roughly equal measure as it hurts to do none of those things. I have one hand perpetually on my cheek, open-mouthed, like some perpetually gasping, pouting heroine. Or a goldfish with a hand. Growing wisdom teeth just bites – and not in any good ways.
I suppose by this point you would have realized that my ironically idiotic ivories are coming out only on one side of my face. This is probably a saving grace of some sort. For instance, you only need half your face to be on a postage stamp, throw an attractive silhouette, and be drawn in hieroglyph. All useful distractions when one does not have the mercy of anesthesia or anything but evolutionary glitches to blame.
Wisdom teeth are supposed, both in folklore and etymologically across the world, to signify the development of sound judgment. I would have to say they’ve certainly helped me make some sensible decisions. I’m too sore to think of clever arch remarks, so now I just say, “My wisdom teeth are coming, so goodbye”. And no more wasting time trying to settle on where or what to eat. I just go home and sniffle into some lukewarm soup while the mutton curry sits in the fridge, as tempting as Eve’s apple. If it’s bigger than a piece of fusilli, I can’t put it in my mouth. Something tells me that the tooth fairy is really an anorexia enabler.
And it’s not like I even actually need them. After all, I’ve been masticating, speaking and avoiding dentists to great success for nearly 23 years. If I must grow new teeth anywhere, I’d rather have vagina dentata anyway (for reasons not to be held against me if you look like Gael Garcia Bernal or Salma Hayek).
So really, I would rather be foolishly fanged and dentally retarded than have the sullen, starved sagacity of wisdom teeth. Life should be devoured in healthy slices, not in timid little slurps. And I am very, very hungry for it.
An edited version appeared in The New Indian Express. “The Venus Flytrap” is my column in the Zeitgeist supplement. Previous columns can be found here.