I don’t know what kind of minty, mystical fusion of plant-based fibers or fishing wires or unicorn hairs goes into the synthesis and manufacturing of dental floss, but what I do know is that I will never take that miraculous gum-diving, water-defying string for granted again.
Last night was a blood bath.
Though we may choose to ignore it, we all know that those standard microwavable popcorn bags are not meant for just one. But really, who can pay attention to recommended serving sizes when a beach-ball-inspired bowl of popcorn, into which you’ve dumped a few extra cups of salt, is perched warmly on your lap, Breaking Bad is on TV, and, consequently, two invisible but industrial-strength strings link your pupils to the screen? Admittedly, that wasn’t the actual scenario last night, but I just wanted to justify my similarly gluttonous behavior, while also conveniently proving a point: Serving sizes are obviously dumb and shamelessly unfounded when it comes to popcorn (and cereal, though I’m sure I’ll get to that later.)
Anyway, in response to my sudden and irrepressible salt craving last night around 2am, I calmly put away (“put away” as in “proudly devoured”) an entire bag of popcorn while lying in bed and listening to the Deathly Hallows on audiobook. A salty lullaby, if you will. After I licked the bottom of the bowl clean, then allowed myself about thirty seconds to entertain serious doubts as to the wisdom of my decisions, I rolled over to fall asleep. Which was when I felt the first subtle twinge of pain caused by the nagging sliver of a stubborn kernel stuck between my back top two teeth.
While I tried fruitlessly to pinch it out with my nails, my hand shoved almost entirely into my mouth, I tried to remember where I had last seen the floss. And, almost too obligingly, the image of a small aquamarine Oral-B floss dispenser (container? box? packet?) materialized quickly before my eyes in the darkness of my butter-scented room. It was undeniably buried beneath unpaid parking tickets, old receipts and unopened mail in the center console of my car… which was even more undeniably parked above (yes, vertically on top of) my roommate’s car on the car lift. (Don’t get me started on these car lifts. But you are encouraged to read my bitter Yelp review for more information. Park Plaza Apartments.)
Floss was clearly out of the question, and, as I came to terms with over the next ten to fifteen minutes of increasing agony, so was sleep. I turned Harry Potter off and got down to business. Over the course of the next hour, I tried a number of different approaches to free myself of this offending kernel. I have listed them below, along with my thoughtful commentary, for your leisurely (and eager, I’m sure) perusal.
- Notebook Paper. Yes, it is thin, but it is much too flimsy and sogs easily. (I realize that “sog” is not necessarily a verb, as in “to become soggy,” but I find it exceedingly appropriate and am currently in the process of getting it approved for what I’m sure will be a useful and enlightening Urban Dictionary entry.)
- Clothing Tags. The likelihood of successfully shoving a tag between your molars probably depends largely on the type of clothing you have most recently bought – i.e. what type of tags you have lying around at your disposal. In my case, they were Victoria’s Secret tags. Sturdier than paper, but much too thick. Moving on.
- Magazine Inserts. Slightly sturdier than average notebook paper, but still too easily sogged.
- String. Deceitfully ineffective. Refuses to budge. I probably stood in front of the mirror for a good ten minutes trying with all my might to force this tiny strand of string between my teeth – to no avail.
- Hair. What do you think?
- Brushing Your Teeth. I was desperate. This does not work. Probably pushed it in further.
- Razor Blades. Just kidding, I’m not insane.
- The Clear Plastic Things that Attach Tags to your Clothing. By far the best floss-substitute of the lot, but still not ideal. Though I did succeed repeatedly in poking one of these things between my teeth, it was at a cost. Let’s just say I had to stop every five seconds to rinse my mouth out… Eh, I’ll just say it. These things make you bleed. But maybe they wouldn’t if you actually flossed regularly… i.e. more than once every two to three months. Guess I’ll never know.
- Earrings. See “Clear Plastic Things…”
At this point, I am standing in front of the mirror with blood in my mouth, an assortment of soiled objects strewn across the counter, and a sharp pain in my gums. I bite down and try to determine whether the kernel is still there. Honestly, I don’t even know anymore. It just hurts. And one of my favorite earrings is bent severely out of shape…