My favorite kind of post mortem.
I shall keep this short, consistent with the experience itself, which was of limited duration. Plus, I have health issues to take care of today.
These days, activities relating to my physical wellbeing have become my dominant form of social interaction. And of financial remuneration. For many years, after I stopped working but before I went on Medicare, my primary source of income came from Writers Guild Health Fund medical reimbursements.
Okay, so here we go.
It is the final day of our highly enjoyable Hawaiian vacation and, as a regular part of my morning ablutions, I am flossing my teeth, using my “Travel Floss”, which I brought along instead of my regular floss because its plastic dispenser is an eighth of an inch smaller and thinner than my regular floss, so you obviously can’t pack “The Big One”; you have to take the “Travel Floss” instead.
The difference between the two is that, with my regular floss, the flossing ribbon is flatter and comparatively less abrasive in its effect. My “Travel Floss”, on the other hand, inflicted the penetrating sting of a trip-wire thin thread, the kind of cord Tony Soprano might have used for the strangulation of his adversaries.
I have finished my flossing, and am now ready to rinse and spit. But when I do, I discover, intermixed with the saliva and the particulate food residue, an astonishing expectoration of blood.
That’s never good to see.
Subsequent rinses and spits progressively readjust the proportions, the transition “back to normal” comprised of a “Four-Step Process”:
Step 1: Almost all blood.
Step 2: More blood than saliva.
Step 3: More saliva than blood.
And finally, to my incredible relief,
Step 4: All saliva.
(It occurs to me that I may be grossing you out here. First, sorry. And second, the gross-out portion of the story is substantially over.)
Okay. With the crisis behind me, the question now becomes,
“What the heck happened?”
To which, my immediate and obvious conclusion:
I had accidentally lacerated my aging and hypersensitive gum line with my inordinately punitive “Travel Floss.”
That’s how the experience would be logged permanently in my “Memory Bank”: As an unwelcome final-day-of-our-vacation periodontal misfortune. (With hopefully no deleterious consequences down the line.)
We are exiting the hotel, me, handling the luggage, while Dr. M orders our rental car brought up for our departure. Suddenly, I sense a nagging discomfort in my right hand, and I look down to determine its source.
It is then that I find the middle finger of my right hand dripping copiously with blood.
(Note: For me, one bleeding episode in a day is upsetting. Two, engenders borderline hysteria.)
A careful examination of my right hand's middle finger uncovers a tiny blister on the bottom of its tip, an abrasion which, I now realize, my “Travel Floss”, razor-sharp and wrapped tightly around that area during the earlier flossing procedure, had apparently aggravated and induced to bleed.
This realization triggers a reevaluation of the entire experience. It was now clear to me that my inadvertently injured right hand's middle finger, having been deeply involved in the flossing procedure, had, in the course of that procedure, found its way into my mouth, leaving behind, upon exiting…
A substantial residue of… the red stuff.
I had, it turns out, made a substantial error in my understanding of the situation, an embarrassing blunder on its own account. More globally, however – as I am nothing if not a “Lesson Learner” – I found my egregious misjudgment driving home a reverberating message; to wit,
The evaluation and everlasting recording of events in my – or, may I boldly suggest – our “Memory Banks” can frequently be shockingly incorrect.
I was certain I had lacerated my mouth.
When I had, in fact, actually lacerated my finger.
You know what I’m talkin’ about?