Monthly Archives: February 2012

From Here to Maternity

“This contraceptive thing. My gosh, it’s so inexpensive. Back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.”                                      Foster Friess    Feb. 16, 2012.

Poor Foster Friess has taken such a hit for his comments about birth control. He should be commended for bringing to light what most people don’t know about those early days, the 1950s and 1960s, when children were raised with an entirely different ethic about birth control. First, no one in the 50’s talked openly about the pleasures of contraception. This was wrong because from the time they were infant boys squirting the parents who diapered them, men have always had contraception on the brain.

Second, as boys grew up, they became insecure teenagers, locking themselves in bathrooms for extended times to think about contraception. Which condoms should I use? Large size? Extra-large? Jumbo? Industrial size?  How far should I let a girl go? Just show her a condom package? Take it out of the package and let her look it over? Let her see me in a condom? Would she ever want to go out with me again if she sees me in a condom? Will my reputation be ruined if I do that? How do I stop thinking in italics?

In high school young men played baseball or football to take their minds off contraception especially when they became excited thinking about the thrill of withdrawal or rhythm methods.

Men of the Boomer Generation reading this will undoubtedly deny they ever thought about contraception then or now. They won’t admit they thought all day about having contraception with a girl they liked. Or that they were too embarrassed to ask other guys how a diaphragm worked as a contraceptive, since it was so high up in the airways.  Some men will actually confess today that they used to look at photos of women in magazines—even Sears’ foundation garment ads— to fantasize if the woman was taking the Pill or enjoyed the combination of condom and foam.

Another source of a young man’s frustration and fear: choosing a movie to attend with a date.  Guys might be talked into seeing films with allusions to contraception like From Here to Eternity, with actors Deborah Karr and Burt Lancaster lying in an embrace on a beach, the tide washing over them, and the spellbound audience uniformly wondering if salt water prevents pregnancy. Or Lady and the Tramp, where two dogs hook-up off-screen, but out in the audience guys are worrying if either dog was neutered.

Fortunately young men grow up and become responsible members of society. Whether teachers, taxi drivers, construction workers, doctors, company executives or congressmen, men never forget, that with their contraceptive urges, they must be vigilant. For example, congressmen and company executives can’t attend meetings wearing condoms, no matter how well-meaning and responsible.  Both sets of men realize that women may stalk them and insist on physical relationships, but fortunately rare are the Congressmen or executive who succumb. Even if these men do die, their reputations are sterling because, despite feeling cheap and exploited by women who refuse birth control products, the men no doubt demanded contraception.

I have it on good authority that Foster Friess was such a responsible man all his life. As a high school student, he was valedictorian, class president, captain of each of the following teams: basketball, track, golf and baseball. As a Boy Scout, he earned a badge in Pregnancy Safety. As a student at University of Wisconsin, he was named one of the most outstanding senior men since he’d been president of his fraternity, served in ROTC, and worked part-time as a salesman for Bayer Aspirin.

The current debate among presidential candidates as to which man most strongly opposes birth control is an effective cover. Who among them would want to admit publicly their lust for contraceptive devices? Yet all of the candidates and their male supporters, like men everywhere, have at one time or another been preoccupied with contraception.

My father’s greatest concern, after Mom died and he kept company with a woman living a few doors away, was that his friend Sam secretly drive to the drug store and buy Dad condoms. It didn’t matter that people tried to discourage him, because Dad had been a responsible consumer of contraceptives all his life.

And so he got his condoms and felt better for that.

He was 93 and his girlfriend 92.

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Bite Me

Michael Clair, former dentist, is going to jail. You may have read that this New Bedford, Massachusetts dental professional, when performing root canals, used sections of paper clips instead of stainless steel posts in an effort to save money.

I know you’re as shocked as I am about this. This is how we reward American innovation—–jailing the inventor. Consider that in the online publication “101 Uses for a Paper Clip,” no one ever suggested such a technologically advanced but cost-effective paper clip dental tool, despite other obvious uses for paper clips such as an inexpensive ear or body-piercing tool, a toenail cleaner, or skewers for very tiny shish-kabobs.

Since former Dr. Clair will be spending a year in the pokey, he should at the very least be assigned to work as a prison dentist.

I should know. I am an authority on dentists.

My first introduction to dentists occurred in first grade, after Peter Lawrence chased me on the school playground. When I reached “base” (the school fence) and turned around, Peter the Not Great careened into me. I found myself holding half of a permanent front tooth.

“Is this yours?” I asked. Actually, I believe I said, “Ith thith yourth?” because a large space suddenly moved in where my tooth had been.

The dentist at the time, whom I’ll call Dr. Michael Clair, after anesthetizing the roof of my mouth with a hypodermic intended for horses in equine dentistry, provided me with a “cap.” No one said “crowns” in those days of the early West, unless talking about the British Monarchy.  The cap was bordered in metal with a translucent front that dazzlingly displayed the diagonal jagged remnant of my tooth inside, or “snaggle tooth” as it’s fondly known.

Had this occurred in 2012, I would’ve been euphoric.  There is currently a wildly popular way to wear teeth in Japan. At the Dental Salon Plairsir in Tokyo’s Ginza
district, cosmetic dentist Dr. Yoko Kasihiyama performs a procedure known as  “Yaeba,” (rhymes with “amoeba) to create the appearance of fangs where a person’s canine teeth are located. For $400, young women who consider fangs sexy, thanks to the current vampire culture and shows like Twilight, can have their canine teeth lengthened, sharpened, and enhanced by custom-made artificial fangs applied with a non-permanent adhesive. The Vampire Teeth are supposed to make young girls look more youthful (!), attractive and approachable, according to Dr. Kashiyama’s assistant, Dr. Michael Clair.

We didn’t have a dentist in our family, which would have been useful. Because of this deprivation, I had to personally learn the real rules of oral hygiene, as opposed to the ones attributed to the American Dental Association:

True or false: “Take care of your teeth because if they’re extracted or fall out, you will look unsightly.”

False: In a classic sports injury, my neighbor Jimmy Krakorn’s front teeth were knocked out as he played baseball in junior high. He was pitching when a ball flew toward him, he reached down to catch it, and was hit in the mouth by a cocker spaniel chasing the ball. After Jimmy was fitted with a retainer, he would flip his retainer up and down repeatedly, exposing the missing front teeth. Despite the initial revulsion, kids flocked to him for his retainer skill and his popularity soared.

True or false: “We all have 32 teeth after our permanent teeth come in and replace our baby teeth. Baby teeth last approximately until age 12.”

False: At thirteen, when most kids had braces and were going out in pairs to the local movie theater, I had seven baby teeth. My mother insisted they be pulled since there was concern I’d still have them when I got married. The baby teeth were exceptionally small, and she was relieved they’d be replaced by the larger permanent teeth. My permanent teeth are approximately a quarter inch smaller than my baby teeth.

True or false: “If you don’t brush your teeth, they’ll develop cavities and turn color.”

False: My sister’s Roberta’s normal teeth are slightly orange. Redheads like Roberta often have teeth with a yellow cast. In Roberta’s case they were orange because of genetics but mainly because during our childhood she consumed massive quantities of Kraft and Nalley french dressings. She is possibly why you can no longer find french dressings in most markets.

Everyone knows that a smile tells a lot about a person. That’s why I’m exclusively relying on recent studies of presidential candidates and their teeth to help me decide how to vote. Back in 2008, a website called The Wealthy Dentist surveyed dentists to find out which presidential candidate had the best teeth. Mitt Romney received over 50% of the vote. The Wealthy Dentist is a reliable website because it lists such tutorials as “Designing the $1,000,000 Dental Sign,” “Maximize Your Dental Market: Target High Value Patients,” and states on its site: “If your practice hasn’t raised its fees in the past 6-12 months, then you’re not as profitable as you could be.”

Recently, two online sites examined the presidential candidates. At Miami New Times.com, a Miami dentist concluded Romney “should have a good set of teeth, with his money” though he may have a bridge on the upper left side; Gingrich “doesn’t show his teeth” when he smiles so may be concealing how many teeth he’s gone through; and Ron Paul has a “natural, older person smile.”

The most significant and most recent comprehensive look at the candidates’ teeth credentials came from the site Floss.com. Barack Obama won 45% of the vote for best teeth, followed by Mitt Romney at 27% and Ron Paul at 9%. Newt Gingrich earned no votes. Interpretation: With 11 total votes in this survey—-Obama had 5, Romney 3, Ron Paul 1—-voter sentiment clearly leans toward the President’s re-election.

Not all are happy with this stunning result. A distinguished New York orthodontist was asked his choice of the best presidential candidate.

“Really none of them, they’re a bunch of old farts,” he concluded as he intently inserted his open-mouthed patient’s retainer, a new appliance made of orthodontic wax and a bent, U-shaped, large paper clip.