Laughing Gas, Dinner, and a Movie…

At age 42, I am now a denture wearer. That statement, or being able to and/or actually say it, has been a long time in the making. As an example, it is now the end of February 2017. I began getting tooth extractions in earnest this last November of 2016. But to take it even a few steps farther back than that, I began breaking and then losing parts of teeth back in the spring of 2015. Of course, I will tell you that I’ve always “had bad teeth”… but, I have also NOT always practiced good dental hygiene. 

When I was maybe in the 2nd or 3rd
grade, I visited the dentist to have my first tooth pulled. The dentist gave little Jon some “laughing gas” and even at that tender age, I experienced a special kind of thrill as I consciously caught a terrific buzz in front of my mother- who, for whatever reason, decided that she would be a Mom and stay in the tooth pulling room with me. 

I remember every bit of that first high. For me, I think that the legally administered Nitrous Oxide was my so-called “gateway drug” to every other substance that existed in the dark corners of this planet. But yeah, I remember it, and it was great. My only other experience so far- in getting intentionally screwed up, probably around the same time, was sniffing gasoline fumes. I can’t remember exactly how I figured out how to do this, but once I did, it was an instant hit- except for the terrible headache which resulted as a kind of 87 octane hangover. 

I also smoked whatever cigarettes I could get my grubby little paws on, usually half smoked ones from my Grandma’s ashtray. She had a funny deal, my Grandma . You see, not very many people knew that she smoked, because she was completely proper for her time period, which was 1930 something whatever… The woman eventually died at age 81 or 82, from heart disease and/or a stroke… This was probably caused by smoking, and I mean, she was a CHAIN smoker… one right after the other. The only breaks she took were to make coffee (so she could smoke with her coffee); while she was mowing grass or working in the garden (which kept her healthy… so she could continue to smoke); and when she was at church- worshipping Jesus (who kept her alive and forgave her sins… so she could stay alive and continue to smoke). Grandma was on menthols, like Caprice or Newport 100’s… whatever was cheapest probably. 

This, and excepting the occasional, and I DO mean occasional, alcoholic drink… smoking, coffee, and TAB soda pop were my Grandma’s vices. She loved TAB. Why? I have no fucking clue. She also wore false teeth, or maybe my Grandpa did- maybe they both did. He died in 1988, from lung cancer, even AFTER he quit smoking. Poor fella… quit smoking and then still dies. That SUCKS. 

You know those commercials advertising cash
settlements for survivors of Mesothelioma? Supposedly, you can collect a SHIT-LOAD of money, even if it’s years after the death of your loved one. Well, my Granddad was an electrician who didn’t wear or even KNOW ABOUT personal protective equipment (PPE) while he was installing asbestos coated stuff … listen, in the 1950’s and 1960’s- EVERYTHING was made of asbestos. That’s why I’m convinced that cancer became so goddam popular in the 1980’s, because all of these fucks were cruising around, handling this stuff; meanwhile, having no idea that the asbestos, booze, or cigarettes were going to give them cancer30 years later. As far as they were concerned, they had beaten the shit out of the Japanese and the Nazis in WW II, and then for good measure sent their kids off to Vietnam… I’m quite certain that the “greatest generation” felt 10 feet tall and bulletproof. 

Maybe someday I’ll consider applying for the survivor’s portion of the mesothelioma money. Hey, I was 15 when that Grandpa died, and it affected me terribly. My Dad traveled for his work, and was not home much. Grandpa was my go-to guy, and when he got sick, I had no one to kick me in the ass on a daily basis to stay on the straight and narrow. As a kid, you need that. And now, I turn around and do the same fucking thing- TRAVELING FOR MY WORK- and leaving my kids and Grand-daughter home with no guidance… not that I’m the to offer anything worthwhile? I suppose that’s probably the way Grandpa felt… like a goddam loser who no one gave a shit about. Well, I gave a shit- too bad if he didn’t know it. 

To this day, I remember the last words he said to me, as he lay gasping for breath with rattling lungs in a hospital bed at Indianapolis- he said “So Long Bread-Wagon”, and then DIED a day or two later. You see, Grandpa was a fan of old western movies, and as I remember it, John Wayne or some other motherfucker had a line in some movie where his sidekick was called “Bread-Wagon”… what a nick-name. 

Anyway, Grandpa called me Bread-Wagon because I could
eat a lot for my size, and I liked rye bread and wheat bread, any kind of bread
was o.k. They always had wheat toast over there, and this was in the days
before Grandparents catered to their Grandkids. So, I ATE wheat-bread toast for
most meals. We had that and generic corn-chips and homemade catsup. Yeah,
CAT-SUP. They also got government cheese back when there was still government cheese
to hand out to old folks. Now, if old people want to smoke, drink coffee, and
eat cheese- they have to buy it themselves. No more white boxes from the County

So, there’s some background on me and at least part of my F’d up childhood. I also had to go to goddam CHURCH CAMP, and even they eventually told me to NOT come back… Motherfucking Church Camp. 

O.k., back to me and my beginning addictions and dentures. So, here I am at age 8 or 9, and I’m just looking to smoke anything that burns and sniff gas. It really was no wonder, due to my already cumbersome mental baggage, that by the time I was introduced to nitrous oxide that I would hop directly onto that bandwagon. It had a clean taste, nearly immediate effects (though VERY short lived… not something that you’re going to spend the day listening to music), and had mild after-effect, i.e. possibly a little headache, but a pretty gentle let down. 

In time, I experienced nearly every drug that I could have, and that’s o.k. with me- I can say that I DID it, and I lived to tell the tale- some of my compadres weren’t as lucky. However, in order to make an extremely long and painful story short (insert
future novel here
), I quit drinking in 2003 and then stopped smoking cigarettes in 2005. Now, I’m all sober, and level headed… it’s really great. Plus, I’m able to HOLD down a job and make at least a few payments for stuff I owe on per month. The flip side of that was getting fired all the time and forgetting to pay the gas bill in January…

Last week, I went in for an ALEVOPLASTY, which means that the oral surgeon grinds down your jaw bone so the dentures will fit on it. As we started this story out, I was beginning the process of wearing dentures, and the dentist who did the work originally was a HACK in every sense of the word, and butchered my face up. So, I go to a dentist down in Salem, IN to get my face fixed, and he says “No Problem”. 

On the day of the appointment, I go in and grab my seat in exam room 4, and they announce that they are going to give me this laughing gas. I’m like, “aren’t I a little too old for this stuff”? And the nurse is all like, “NO, just sit back and try to relax”. 

Whew! I breathed in and all of a sudden, I’m fucking stoned! I look over to the corner of the room to make sure my Mom’s not sitting there, because something tells me that on nearly every level, this just HAS to go against my sobriety… But, anyway, I figure… F- it. And I start breathing deeply, and I’m here to tell you that I’m pretty sure this was better than a lot of weed I’ve smoked. I wouldn’t rate it with narcotic type stuff, but still pretty good.

                 The Reason For This Paper…

It was then, that I had a thought that I was sure would be very insightful, and would be worth a million dollars when I got home to write about it. So, I reached into my pocket for a business card and ink pen to write it out. Oh, I wasn’t going to miss with this one. What did I jot down?

“Laughing Gas, Dinner, and a Movie”

THAT… is what I had written.

Brilliant. I found the card and this GOLD MINE OF A THOUGHT in my pocket a couple of days later, and I immediately wished that, in my laughing gas stupor, I would have lost it. You see, at this point in my life, if you find something like that, you have to follow up on that promise to write about it, so now I had to try and find whatever meaning I thought would be here… and I’m not finding ANYTHING other than I remembered to apologize to my wife for arguing with her on Valentine’s Day. 

So- the preceding was my attempt at developing this VERY important thought… 

I always think that, at some point, I’ll write something that is worthy of The Atlantic, or at worst- at least the Reader’s Digest or some county-wide farmer’s almanac. But, this wasn’t even that good. In fact, it’s barely good enough for my website, except that I own the website, and can put a pile of dog crap up there if I want to. 

And now, some 2100 words later, I’m no closer to my conclusion that when I first started… except maybe, hold on a minute. Even AFTER my close encounter with the all-time best gateway drug of nitrous oxide, I’m still sober! So, this is a victory speech I guess. Or, could it be a warning? 

Mama’s, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys, and for sure do not sit there and look at them when they experience getting blasted with laughing gas at 8 years of age. I think it’s bad to get high in front of your Mom, especially in the third grade. 

Come to think of it, the Mom’s to be these days are using nitrous oxide as a pain reliever
during childbirth. That would amount to getting high WITH your Mom, while you’re still “inside” of her… I’m really not even sure that I like that last sentence, and am absolutely sure that being a part of it would create some of the worst “mommy issues” known to man-kind; a real Freudian recipe for disaster. 

Moms – DO NOT DO IT! Your little ones will
despise you before their 3rd birthday party. Just pop them out sober
and then let them get a shot in their gums, or better yet, make the little
fuckers brush their teeth and floss! What is your alternative? Go ahead, sit
there and watch YOUR little Jon
experience the effects of what should be an illegal drug, and then send him
back to 3rd grade with a gasoline stained nose from shoving it into
the tank of a lawnmower.

Yeah, because that’s how that kind of stuff happens.

There was a time that I “accidentally” got gas in my eyes after a gas tank mysteriously overflowed and I got gasoline all in my eyes and face… Yeah, I wonder how that happened. Shit. I should have just said NO and asked for the shot. … Gee whiz, laughing gas? All of a sudden it doesn’t seem like such a laughing matter at all! 

They say to Spare
the Rod is to Spoil the Child
… well- keep the rod if you want to and just spare the drug induced craziness in the dentist chair and lazy methods of childbirth. Teach the kid to brush his teeth, and maybe… just maybe, they’ll turn out alright. 

In the meantime, reserve my spot at the A.A. meeting, I’ll be there right after I hit the WHIPPED CREAM display in the dairy section at the supermarket. 

                                                      Monday starts the weekend!