Thursday, January 13, 2011

root canal



















The mobile spins
from a bent wire, like a cage
from the ceiling. It does nothing
to distract me. We play a little game
of waiter and customer; the deeper
he goes, the more it costs. I think
about tablecloths, as his long,
hairy hands fink, absurdly personal,
around my pink sidewalls.
He, and his assistant, chat
innocuously about the longevity
of parrots and H & R Block.
I listen, as the alien-high squawk
drowns Neil Diamond and spatters
my goggles. Hours later, mute,
I disengage, tumble out
to the magazine readers, fuzzy
and buzzy, like I’ve been shaved
by a drunken barber.



Tess Kincaid
January, 2011



Would you like me to read this poem to you?






Well, I did it. I braved the most dreaded of all dental procedures today. I had a root canal. Actually, I will say that the whole process was completely pain free. Okay, I have a very high pain threshold, but must admit, I was terrified the entire two hours.

photo borrowed from Google images

96 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear you had to endure all that - but at least you got this great poem out of it.

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  2. Eeww! I just went to the dentist yesterday and I think I heard them say, "Worst case scenario, we will have to break your jaw." The photo mimics my apprehension exactly! I hope for an outcome as successful as your own.

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  3. this perfectly captures the creepy eroticism hidden in dentistry. there's a kind of intimacy in dental procedures and weirder still, only involves pain. i was squirming when i read this, Tess. alien-high squawk! yikes! i felt violated. great write to have that effect. bravo!

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  4. Yes, it is terrifying! I hate it! I'm glad it didn't hurt too much.

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  5. I just had a temporary crown done on Monday. I prefer the root canal for some reason, in fact I thought the root canal was easier than a filling but it probably all depends on the dentist. I did listen to my book on tape on my ipod the whole time, made it much less stressful, though my palms were sweating the whole time. Oh this aging is physically so much fun.

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  6. I've got a dental phobia which dates back to my very first appointment when i was a small child. Hmm - I think there's a poem in there somewhere :)

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  7. Thanks, Gerry. You got the effect I was hoping for!

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  8. Jeanette, my palms were gushing sweat the whole time. I've got to be dehydrated from the whole affair. Excuse me while I get some water...

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  9. Beats whiskey and pliers.

    Nice work.

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  10. Arghhhh, sweaty palms, flip floppy stomach, I do not go willingly to the dentist.

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  11. Oh, SW, neither do I! In fact, if I had gone earlier, I most likely would have just needed a crown.

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  12. Yep I had one of those recently too. Sorry, I couldn't get the poem reader to work. Am I doing something wrong? I just clicked on the play button?

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  13. a true poet--to make a poem out of something as unappealing as getting a root canal.

    The part I dont like the most is sitting for so long with my mouth open. I heard on the radio that they have invented some kind of sound block thing that blocks the sound of the drill, but allows the patient to hear what the dentist says. this sounds good. the drill sound is also awuful.!!

    Glad it is all over for you, and you can chew with ease once again.

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  14. oh tess i remember an emergency root canal . . . well especially the pain before the surgery. brave girl you are!!! steven

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  15. Never had anything like that, but Bear had a crown installed once.

    He survived to tell the tale.

    When you wrote "root canal," I thought that might be a reference to the river behind your house being a source for water in a nearby boating canal. (I still get confused about some things Human.) I thought you might have fallen in, or something.

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  16. I hate going to the dentist but then after I am done I think "Gee, that wasn't that bad". It's always a white-knuckle day for me when I do go though. Bad memories from childhood procedures. I think, sadly, they are embedded forever!

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  17. My husband had one about a month ago and said it wasn't bad at all. He had been a bit worried about the procedure, but said it was basically pain free for him. Glad yours went well.

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  18. ouch!
    This reminds me of a mad dentist I went to who played classical music loudly (to soothe, i imagine) but unfortunately as he came at me with his big needle the Wagneresque/jaws sound track went to - dun, dun, dun!
    and when I started laughing...he looked at me like I was the weird one!
    another great poem, look forward to your book!

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  19. oh lord...been through that one before...hope you feel better soon...ack

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  20. Oh I so know that experience sadly. I didn't feel pain either but I hated the whole process ....that and the dentist's rubber gloves
    ...oh and his not-very-clean ceiling and his and his assistant's conversations.

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  22. God,Tess...brutal

    at least he didn't keep asking "Is it safe?"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG5Qk-jB0D4

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  23. I don't think a root canal is painful at all....it's the days that lead up to it that hurt like hell!

    I just got finished getting an implant...which began in 2009. OMGosh, when you use the dental school it is cheaper...but it takes FOREVER!

    When they finished, I felt exactly like you...shaved by a drunken barber.

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  24. Oh, God--welcome to my world--I've had several, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to need another one in a molar with a very old filling...this brought it all back, Tess! Great poem. My dentist is wonderful--he lets me put on headphones and turns a radio to any station I like, and he puts sunglasses on me. (You see, directly in front of the chair is a painting of a beach.) I'm with you, though--that does nothing to transport me...

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  25. I used to own my first dentists' vintage dental chair, we found it while rummaging his old office that was being demolished. It had a strap to hold the children in and was dated 1887, a very cool unit of torture and he used it well...I will never forget the smell of his office up that dark dingy flight of stairs, with lingering, thick cigar smoke permeating my flared nostrils and wide terrified eyes...55 years ago and I'll never forget...ewwww!!!


    s

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  26. Oh, my sympathies to you. I have never had a root canal, but the idea of one makes me shudder. Deeply.

    Your poem is as far as I go, I hope, to experiencing one.

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  27. I wanted to add the question have you ever seen the movie "The Secret Life of Dentists?"

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  28. Elizabeth, no, I've not seen The Secret Life of Dentists. Should I add it to my Netflix queue?

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  29. Enjoyed how the experience was expressed, similar enough almost, to be taking your place.

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  30. Beats that old "tie a thread between mouth...and door knob, then-------
    SLAM THE DOOR!!!" OUCH!

    Had 8 root canals, 'loved' every one...HA! Actually, not bad. But YOU writ about it marvelously, TK!

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  31. "A Brush With Color" wrote she faced a painting of a beach while in "the chair"...

    In "the chair" I'm facing THE BEACH--not a painting! What a horrible life, here in Naples-On-The-Gulf (of Mexico!)

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  32. Ahh ah-ho ade uh ennisht.
    Sorry...flashbacks.
    Hubs- he loves to go to the dentist, but I think it's just because he'd rather be anywhere but work these days.
    Or he's nuts.
    Hmmm...he also likes to shovel snow out of the driveway....guess I'm going to go with nuts!

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  33. I've had enough root canals to know that the worst part of them is the sitting in that chair for that long! great illustration:)

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  34. We guys are not good at 'pain'. Frankly I'd rather boil in oil than visit the dentist. Only in the most dire circumstance...

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  35. A friend of mine believes that the best poetry is driven by angst. You've certainly produced a good one, here!

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  36. Been there, done that. I had my two front teeth pulled at the age of three and never got over that feeling of being violated by the man with the creepy tasting hands (before they started using gloves!). ALWAYS feel violated after one of these types of procedures, and unfortunately, I tend to "loose a tooth" after pregnancy. The Germans have a saying that translates, Have a baby, loose a tooth!!

    This one certainly evoked all those feelings I have surrounding a trip to the dentist (even if it's just for a cleaning!!).

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  37. I like your thoughts on the subject Tess.
    Just as well modern dentistry is radically different to 50 years ago.

    Brave girl indeed.

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  38. Wonderful words Tess. As for the dentist, the fear is always more painful than the treatment.

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  39. I hope your rested now Tess.
    Off topic but........have you seen this movie ? Something to get your teeth into!

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  40. Tony, YES, I loved this movie! Tilda Swinton is one of my faves and she was, as always, brilliant.

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  41. You deserve some type of reward for being able to walk in the door at the dentist office and to sit in the chair and endure the procedure. And you lived to tell about it on your blog. Great writing too.

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  42. I see that you dropped by Gloria Rarebell...thank you... though there is really no one living there these days. The place is in absolute shambles.

    What would I have to say to persuade you to move your delightful photograph to the Pinata?

    Oh goodness... I just realized where the last name for a snippet of prose I posted this morning came from. It would be yours. Now that's embarassing. And no, that's not what I'm saying to get you to drop by... I really did just realize where the name came from.

    Come or no, your work is divine.I hope you don't mind me sticking 'round to enjoy it.

    Be rid of this message, if you would...

    Best,

    Steven

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  43. Sorry but your poem begs the question: 'Is it safe?'

    What a cracking piece about one of those procedures I dread.

    Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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  44. I am so afraid of the dentist! As soon as I sit on that black leather chair, the dental torture scene in Marathon Man becomes ingrained in my mind!

    So, Bravo to you - and to inspire you to writing - magnificent!

    Anna :o]

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  45. Not "Sweeney Todd", I hope!
    Was it at least a good Neil Diamond song? Not "Beautiful Noise" or "Deep Inside of You"?!!!

    Kat

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  46. Sitting so long with our mouths open is no fun
    but thankfully there are dentists or you would have found no relief..the thing is to make peace with the dentist and visit him or her often despite hating them

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  47. Tess, how is it you can take something as horrific as a root canal ~~~ and with words turn it into a thing of beauty?

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  48. Why do dentists insist on conducting conversations while dong what they have to do? Answers are just incoherent with a mouthful of instruments and hands!

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  49. Kat, ironically enough, it was "I'm a Believer".

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  50. I think we always get scared about going to the dentist and I always come out thinking how painless it was. My dentist used to have a skylight and outside was a tree. I used to watch that tree and concentrate on it - recently he had it cut down and I miss it terribly.

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  51. Great description of the dentist experience. I can relate to this one. I just had a crown done last month, but thankfully didn't need the root canal. My dentist has the little TV's and a nice blanket, but there's no way to make this a cozy experience. Then he asks me questions when his hands are in my mouth...mumble, mumble : )

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  52. *shiver* Two hours?! I'd need a very stiff drink to endure that. Hats off to you.

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  53. It fascinates me that there
    are two strands to most
    of our postings, one on
    this site, and the other on
    Facebook; and they are
    almost all a different batch
    of responders.

    Poetry written out of angst;
    there's a mind full.
    Did you start with the comment
    on FB, and this led to the poem?
    It goes both directions for me.
    Incredible that life itself, with
    all its joys, pains, and foibles
    provides us with the impetus
    for new poetics, or a redeux on
    older poems.

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  54. Oh boy am I sorry. In fact I am really very sorry. I intensely hate root canals. Your poem was outstanding and I felt the agony of it like I was living it myself.

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  55. I felt like I was in the chair with you . . . a tribute to your poem, BUT! Great word choices: I particularly liked "pink sidewalls."

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  56. Oh, yes -- I know that feeling. Nice poem!

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  57. God bless you Tess, i know that is hard....i went throught the same thing a year and a half ago.....my whole body was tense with dread and fear....so glad it is all over for you, and for me to....love the poem it captures the whole experience as only a poet could.
    :-*)

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  58. I'm breaking out into a cold sweat just reading this. I have an absolute horror of dentists!

    You made a marvelous poem out of it, though. I especially love the disorientation of the last line ... 'fuzzy and buzzy ... like I'd been shaved by a drunken barber'. That's it, exactly.

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  59. Glenn, yes, I left the comment on Facebook first, and then a poem came, when the angst was still very fresh.

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  60. Congrats Tess, hope your tooth is feeling good again. There's something about going to the dentist that continues to be terrifying... your poem captured the experience so well...

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  61. two hours is a long time to accomodate ferar

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  62. this is amazing. you make poetry of everything! this is just the way it is, only no one but you could describe it so entirely with all the perfect words that none but you could find. wow.

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  63. Absurdly personal, indeed. The last line drives it home! Hope you're on the mend.

    xo
    erin

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  64. I am so glad it is behind you. Take good care dear Willow!

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  65. Every time I visit the dentist, I think, "I miss the old spit sinks" ...

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  66. Tess -- Today's dentistry is fairly painless -- I feel the most pain is walking into the dentist office -- especially for a root canal! Your photo is fantastic. -- barbara

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  67. Perfectly captured. It brings it all back.. the thoughts, feelings, sounds, fears and yes, the pleasure and for me at least, pain. The last sentence is sheer brilliance. Actually, it's all brilliant.

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  68. Brave you!
    Yes, a horrid experience altogether but my dentist gives GAS which is the only time I get high....
    yes odd how they chat about nothing in particular when you are in a very weird zone.
    By the way, I LOVE the new clean clear and bright format --brilliant for the new year.

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  69. Ouch! It hurts just to read it! Apparently you 'touched a nerve' with many of us!

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  70. Heh-heh, yeah, it was an unnerving experience.

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  71. Yikes.. this one is too real, Tess.
    I hope that drunken barber in your mind's eye isn't Sweeney Todd... just kidding! xoxo
    Lord Thomas of Wellington

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  72. UGH! You nailed it! No pun intended!

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  73. Great great writing...
    My problem with the dentist is how physcial it is... well, that and the potential for much pain!

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  74. Sympathies. Few thing worse than a tender mouth.

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  75. Just stumbled upon your blog. Great poem. I'm being haunted daily by a recent root canal (1st one) that I believe is not quite right. I'm too afraid to go back, the physical and financial pain will kill me.

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  76. Wonderful poem! And the image is perfect. So glad it was pain-free for you. I keep hearing this from people these days, though I haven't had the "pleasure" myself.

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  77. Wow, did I like this one! Haven't been to the dentist in years, and I could still connect.

    Maybe I should get in soon...

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  78. I assume you were gassed up a bit? :-) I conjured up images of Sweeney Todd - except in a dental chair instead of the barber chair. I liked it! Good character building poetry.

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  79. This is so cleverly written - bravo!
    It is amazing how much we dread the dentist and almost always it turns out ok. My first root canal 2 years ago didn't hurt a bit; the dread of it was much worse.

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  80. 'I have very high pain threshold' -oh Willow, I thought we were friends!
    Millie x

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  81. know i already commented but great to see you at one shot...

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  82. wow! love it. wonderfully done!
    your voice is perfect for your poetry.

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  83. "shaved by a drunken barber!...What a finale! A brilliant piece of gross writing brushed/drilled with artistic flourish!

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  84. I cringed as soon as I read the title and saw the pic. Yikes. An excellent poem.

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  85. Tess, you took me back to my "favorite" root canal. The dentist gave me some sort of happy juice, and then dove in. He and his assistant had a hilarious conversation -- at least I think it was, or maybe it was the happy juice -- and there I am, mouth stretched from hell to breakfast, unable to laugh. When I leave the office, I call my husband, and he asks, "Have you been drinking?"

    Now, that's the way to have a root canal.

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  86. Wow, you make even a dreaded oral procedure beautiful and almost erotic in the narrator's honesty in her vulnerability.

    Happy healing on the root canal.

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  87. love the way you've captured this experience...I have had a root canal done once...hurt like hell until the actual procedure when finally the pain was numbed!

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  88. Adore this. I love the one-stanza approach loaded with imagery. Great poem Tess.

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  89. you are even poetic when going to the dentist - LOVED it...!!

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  90. So excellent!
    What a description. I was completely engaged.

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  91. Ouch, ouch and ouch!!! But seriously, how you can write about an experience such as this, I cannot even begin to imagine!!! Hats off to you, my dear!!!

    The vividness was alarming!! :))
    Loved it nonetheless! A SUPERB One Shot!! I hope the mouth and its inhabitants are back at work now :)

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  92. a fantastic poem with a great but very eerier looking photo, gives me chills thinking about the barbaric dentistry practice. Makes me want to shout at the dentist "take care, I am not asleep, as I count backwards- and he is pulling and tugging away.." yikes,,

    joanny

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  93. Dear Tess...

    Interesting and so vivid ... I liked reading it.. Thanks for sharing...

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya
    http://shadowdancingwithmind.blogspot.com
    Twitter: @VerseEveryDay

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  94. Being the 96th comment I'll be brief; boxer shorts bind.

    ..smiles..

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)