Fiscal Cliff Huxtable

In July, my one of my teeth began to hurt. I went to the dentist who looked at it and said, “From the outside, it looks fine to me. You must be grinding your teeth at night.” O.K., how can we fix that, Dr. Mortuary, without me staying up all night and telling my teeth to relax?

“We can fit you with a ‘night guard,’” he answered. “It will look like one of those things NFL players chew on between plays but it will help you sleep better and probably solve the problem.”

“I’m for that,” I said. “Who knows, maybe my passing game will improve, too.” The dentist didn’t get it.

“We’ll mold it to fit your teeth,” Dr. Mortuary said. “But first, we will need to get an impression.”

“I do Elvis, Johnny Cash, and a pretty good Willie Nelson, if I have a cold,” I replied. The dentist didn’t get that one either. In my mind, I was singing, “I hear the pain a’comin’.”

He proceeded to mix up some kind of cement/plaster of Paris/hummus gunk into a metal mold that stretched my mouth to the point that it was going to Jackson just to mess around as his assistant installed it to get my impression. My impression was that for all this trouble and money, the thing ought to work.

And it did. Not only did my pain go away, but my passing and running games seemed to improve (though not enough to help the Saints or the Titans so far this season).

Until last Wednesday. I bit into a biscuit – a nice, soft seemingly harmless biscuit. My tooth hit something in that biscuit that launched the pain-rocket sending my head through the kitchen ceiling to burst a hole in our relatively new roof on its way to reestablish Pluto as a planet. Ouch!  I had a songwriting session scheduled with a friend visiting from Mississippi which I kept, although I took a break to make an emergency dental appointment. Incidentally, Danielle Thomas and I did complete a very painful song.

That afternoon, my vocabulary was broadened when Dr. Mortuary said, “That tooth appears to be pulpifying.” Pulpifying? I assured him this was not bad fiction – it was real pain. “No problem,” he said, “we’ll schedule you with an endodontist and he’ll fix you up.”

Dr. Able, the endodontist, did, in fact, fix me up.  At my ardent request, he also gassed me up. A lot. To the point where my tank was thoroughly topped off and the preparatory shot for the root canal was a mere blip. I asked the assitant to change channels on the TV mounted on the ceiling above the chair from a soap opera to CNBC, the business channel. Lying there, as the misnomered “laughing gas” took effect, I watched pundits, prophets and other sorts of “its” discuss the impending fiscal cliff. As my head got lighter, Dr. Able walked in and began to perform the root canal. Through it all, the news of the economy swirled just above the doctor in his white coat and mask. A commercial reminded me of Bill Cosby’s TV character Dr. Cliff Huxtable. While Cosby played an obstetrician, not a dentist, the talk of the fiscal cliff and the image of a doctor brought him to mind.

With the help of the glorious gas, I decided that if Dr. “Fiscal Cliff” Huxtable were in charge of the economy, it would all be fixed in thirty minutes and we’d laugh a little along the way. Who knows, there might even be one of those surprise endings where everyone sings and dances. “Boehner, Pelosi and the Congressional High-steppers present the hilarious new musical, Fiscal Follies!”

The procedure ended and the gas wore off. As I paid my insurance deductible, a symbolic root canal for my checking account, I was satisfied that I had contributed to the economy of at least two people in dentistry. Believe me, I was happy to do so since my tooth no longer hurt. And the idea of Dr. Fiscal Cliff Huxtable fixing the economy with a few laughs still appeals to me.

The names “Dr. Mortuary” and “Dr. Able” are fictional, though the dental professionals they represent are not.

Text and photos copyright 2012 Les Kerr. Learn More about Les at

About Les Kerr

Les Kerr is a songwriter, recording artist, journalist and author originally from the Gulf Coast now based in Nashville, Tennessee. Learn More about Les at
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6 Responses to Fiscal Cliff Huxtable

  1. Danielle says:

    Thanks, Les, for the mention. I don’t know how to feel about being linked to “pain”. LOL

  2. Tammy Vice says:

    Thanks for sending a free smile this way.

  3. Terry Johnson says:

    Les, great to read about my old Mississippi buddy! Come to Florida! Terry Gautier Johnson

  4. Les Kerr says:

    Thanks, Terry – so good to hear from you!

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