Sunday, June 29, 2008
FLOSSING THE MOUTH OF MADNESS
Greetings gentle readers - all four of you.
My apologies for the long break. I wish I could say that it was because I was too busy or by some stretch lacking in subject matter but the sad truth is so much more basic. I am fundamentally a shiftless person that is easily distracted by anything shiny or bouncy. Every time I sit down at my computer to type, I find myself the helpless victim of ebay and porn, as surely as Ulysses found himself caught between Scylla and Charybdis. Had Charybdis been armed with hot Asian teen on teen action, I'm sure it would have ended badly for the Greeks. Myself, since May I have surfed the intertubes muselessly, badly chafed, and now the triumphant owner of rare treasures like a dead mongoose fighting for its life against two stuffed cobras.
Isn't it swell? Neither its splendor nor its innate irony were lost on me.
I have also, since we were last together, had more than a few occasions to wade throat-deep in the stuff of horror. In recent weeks I have viewed THEM (2007), PERFECT CREATURE, three solid episodes of NBC's FEAR ITSELF and one crappy one, THE CALL OF CTHULHU, THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (1981), VIY, SHUTTER (the original, of course), THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, EATEN ALIVE, THE OTHERS, TEETH (which will get its own blog entry soon), FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, DIARY OF THE DEAD, ZOMBIE STRIPPERS, SLITHER and for the eighth time, the Zack Snyder remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD. Many of these I enjoyed. A few are precious enough to be enthroned in my DVD collection. But none of them - not one - came close to instilling me with the two-fisted horror, the creeping nausea, the drooling, slack-jawed screaming that I experienced for a full hour watching the BBC America documentary, BRITAIN'S WORST TEETH.
BWT documents the efforts of three of Britain's foremost dentists as they agree to treat four twenty-some year olds, none of whom had been to a dentist since before Wes Craven last made a decent movie. The least terrifying was a young mother named Gemma, whose bulimia had eroded her smile down to a row of yellowed, nubby Chiclets that were good for little more than funneling broth and yogurt. Unpleasant? Certainly. But Gemma was just the warm up act. She was Julia Roberts compared to the others.
The show actually began with Sarah, who on casual inspection was actually quite cute in that undercooked, British sort of way. Young, slender, blonde, I let my guard down as she told the story of her sugar addiction. Daily chocolate, three cups of tea with three spoons of sugar three times a day and on and on. For a moment I wondered how she managed to be so rail thin on a diet of Pixie Sticks and Yoo-Hoo - and then she opened her mouth and that moment was gone. All my moments were gone. I forgot how to blink.
It is rare that I make an audible sound when viewing television but within that first five minutes of BWT, I screamed. And not that sort of dignified man-scream one makes when confronted by a bear or a collapsing mine shaft, either. Oh no. These were high pitched girl screams, the kind that be-pigtailed moppets reserve for spiders and strangers with candy, of such frequency and duration that every dog within two blocks was driven into a howling fit.
Blonde, slender, "pretty" Sarah's smile was a jaundiced bag of moist, broken glass. Weakened by a hardcore diet of candy that would choke Augustus Gloop, all that remained of her teeth were jagged, splintered shards, jutting out of her gums at odd intervals and angles like a rotting picket fence. I felt the blood rush from my face. How...how could this be!?! This was an otherwise clean, educated, middle class young woman of the First World! And yet, there she was in living color, with the diseased piehole of an aboriginal meth addict. I pulled my knees up to my chest and held them there until I lost feeling in my feet.
The narrator droned on about...I dunno, something. The state of dental hygiene in the UK, perhaps. I was too busy grappling for the last shreds of my sanity to be certain. I closed my eyes and Sarah's cockeyed zipper mouth was still there! So I opened my eyes - and there was Paul.
This is Paul.
The spongy, black rot on yellowing apple cores. Breath like the gas from a beached whale. You would think he flossed with a chainsaw and gargled with maple syrup, but you know he's never flossed or gargled in his life.
Paul (and his sister Genna) were dentaphobes. Traumatized by a take-no-prisoners tooth Nazi at a very young age, Paul's well-founded phobia overrode his common sense and kicked off a 15 year cavalcade of tartar and gingivitis. His entire life consisted of going to work and coming home to hide his mouth. He had to take painkillers just to chew bread.
Too much. My mouth was open and dry. Now my screams could only be heard by bats. It was as if the reality of a godless universe had tied a hobnail boot to a telephone pole and fired it out of a cannon directly at my solar plexus. I couldn't stop telling myself that this wasn't a movie! This wasn't a movie!! All my happy places had evaporated! Oh sweet jeebus - now I'm talking in italics like everyone that ever went crazy and died in a Lovecraft story!! Not good!!! NOT GOOD!!!!!
I woke up on the floor in a puddle of at least two of my own fluids. Cautiously, I pulled myself up and peered over the coffee table at the TV. Graham Norton was interviewing Kevin Bacon. The Beast had gone. Everything was going to be okay.
That was about two weeks ago and I've only flossed once since. Life's funny.