"You have excellent homecare," Ellen said. Ellen is my dental hygienist. "No cavities? No plaque?" I asked, incredulous. "No, none." Then she repeated, "Excellent." I felt my teeth begin to gleam. I breathed a sigh of great relief -- then spit. A warm sense of well-being and accomplishment began to spread throughout my being. This was something to fall back on, it occurred to me, the next time self-doubt raised its ugly head. I was no failure. I was capable, reliable, upstanding, diligent. I had my flaw-free teeth to show for it, and Lord knows, the bicuspid never lies.
This dental-office episode took place in mid-October. Please flash forward. It's late January now, and I am here today to recommend to you the benefits of flossing daily in the fight against low moods inspired by endlessly recurring snow days, inability to keep the kids from tracking slush throughout the house or from cutting your curtains up (that is, if you had curtains) to make pants suits for their dolls. (Pants suits worn over tights, of course, in this sub-zero weather. No need for sleeveless gowns or miniskirts.)
Where were we? Ah, yes, flossing, flossing daily. And using the Sonicare, of course. The house may be a mound of English-muffin crumbs. Unfinished projects may lie scattered on the kitchen table and the bed. You may be unable to think or to stop eating every comfort food within a three-mile radius. Perhaps you've taken to hiding beneath the covers, unable to face the dark-start day. No need, though, to despair. You'll triumph, for there's one thing you've committed to, a set of things less transient than this moody, cold-and-wind-aversive flesh: Your teeth, and as your hygienist will remind you in three months, they are calling you ... excellent you.
Amanda Geffner is a writer and psychotherapist living in Weston. Send your thoughts and stories to David at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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