Spring Cleaning

I’m getting rid of things, throwing out all the garbage that collects over time, just me and a big trash bag, stuffing things into it, things I don’t need anymore. Even if I don’t think I’ll need or want these things, I dust them off to get a good look at these artifacts. I’m finding some things I’d forgotten about, from a long time ago. I might keep them, I might not. I’m never sure if I might need something after it’s gone. It won’t matter in the long run. Far enough down the line I’ll probably forget I ever threw it out, if I even remember I ever had it.

The details of these things are the same as anyone else’s, mirror images of lives we all think don’t apply to other people, so there’s really no point in listing them. There are so many material things we don’t need as a culture, but we still collect and keep them around to also collect dust, crumbling under the weight of their own archeology. I tongue my wisdom teeth, and I think about being at the dentist the other day.

“What’s the ratio of people who still have their wisdom teeth to people who’ve had them out?” I asked my dentist when she took her instruments out of my mouth, her breasts squished on my forehead. She put her instruments back in my mouth after wiping away some of the crud she’d scraped off onto a bunched-up cloth she was clutching in the same hand she held that little rearview mirror.

“I’m not sure if there’s actually statistics on that,” my dentist said through a light aqua-green surgical mask.

“Oh,” I mumbled. I kept my tongue as far back as I could, behind those sublingual saliva gland thingies. I was trying to not be sexy, to avoid eye contact by staring at the far wall, trying to not lick her instruments as she scraped the coffee stains off my teeth.

“Actually,” she said, her pink surgical gloves holding her sharp instruments in my mouth, “we’ve noticed that more and more young people are growing up and not even getting their wisdoms.”

I made a face with my face, with my eyebrows mostly, a face like, “Do you realize what you’re saying?” She took her instruments out of my mouth and wiped away some crud on the cloth, and I said, “You’re saying the human race is actually evolving to the point where it’ll cease to grow wisdom teeth?”

She laughed a little and said, “Yeah, I guess.” She stuck her sharp instruments back in my mouth. I was being friendly with her, as people should be when other people stick sharp objects into their mouths. Still, a dentist has a kind of black-cat quality, and, with her breasts asexually positioned on my forehead, I didn’t want to look into her eyes. I stared off across the room, at the far wall. I tried to not lick the mirror in my mouth.

“They’re like appendixes,” she said through her aqua-light green surgical mask. “They’re really useless. I guess we’re slowly weeding out all the things we don’t need.” She scraped a big chunk of crud off my bottom front teeth, and I felt the chunk fall down into the back of my mouth where my throat is, like a coin dropped into a well. I coughed a little, and she jumped up with her instruments, and the hook snagged my upper lip.

“Oooh, I’m sorry,” she said. I got cut a little, bled a bit. She dabbed the cut with the cloth she was wiping the crud she scraped off my teeth on. “You’ll be okay,” she said.

“Maybe someday, the human race will evolve to not need lips,” I said, trying to not be sexy.

She laughed and said, “And maybe then we’ll find out we really did need our wisdom teeth. We’ll be kicking ourselves then.”

Maybe she just didn’t want the dental profession to lose business on account of evolution weeding out the entire dental profession. I had a vision of a new civilization, a toothless society. Everyone would gum their food, just a pureed mush of old recycled sandwiches. Dentists would be the only ones left with any teeth, if only out of a biological need to earn a living. They’d all be thrown into internment camps and starve after having all their teeth ripped out with pliers. My dentist is nice, so I’m not sure why that vision popped into my head.

“Maybe,” I said.

I began to wonder what would happen, what the world would be like if the human race could evolve beyond being convinced it needs all the things it has. Most people’s lives are based and depend on producing those useless things, though. So, cleaning out our lives might involve throwing pieces of ourselves away, all the junk we’ve allowed to pile up and clutter our thoughts (not just material things), who we are to ourselves and to each other, pieces we’ll probably forget we ever threw out, if we even remember we ever had them. Maybe we’ll find something we did need, something we forgot about from a long time ago.



Ethel Rohan said...

Great post, Eric, although my stomach's not the better of "crud," and that piece dropping in the back of your throat. So awful. So good. We all have it :-) Use in a story!

A de-clutter is so good for the soul. I bet you felt much better afterwards. I hope you felt great afterwards, and that the feeling lasts for a long time.

Definitely, I've had to throw away pieces of myself, and reclaim others. It's ongoing, and so much work, but it has to be done ...

Congratulations on all your successes and exposure of late. You go!

Eric Beeny said...

Big thanks, Ethel. It did feel great, it always does. I like to think of not acquiring more useless (im)material things as a perpetually preventative and proactive decluttering. Unfortunately, it's just easier to be lazy...