Thirty; Forty; Two Drunk Men

Choose: be the story or tell the story. It’s hard to do both.


The Iron Hand

The emperor came to the man and showed his mechanical hand. He clenched it and showed his steel fist.

The man bowed his head and did what the emperor asked.

The second emperor came to the man and showed his mechanical hand. Then he slipped a velvet glove over his mechanical hand.

The man bowed his head and agreed with the second emperor that it was a very beautiful hand and that he would do what the second emperor asked because the second emperor had such a beautiful hand.

This was a lie, but the second emperor felt better anyway. The man worked and the second emperor felt like a good emperor.

It is the 30th day of the 1st month of the 2022nd year since the manifestation of the avatar of mecha Godzilla. I think. I could be wrong.

I’m in the process of getting my second root canal.

I owe both of my root canals to drunk older men.

Root Canal 1

The first I owe to my high school philosophy teacher, Aleksander ‘Sandi’ Cvek. He enjoyed picking a student or two to hang out with each year. The students would come to his apartment, listen to the Grateful Dead, smoke Marlboro Reds and weed, read books and comics, and drink Wild Turkey Bourbon.

The year I had his class I was seventeen going on eighteen. Aleksander ‘Sandi’ Cvek was 36.

In early 2000, the evening before my one of my final exams, I was cycling home from Sandi’s apartment. I was very drunk and the road seemed very dark.

Suddenly—head lights coming right at me!

I clutched my brakes and flew over my handlebars. Face first I ploughed into the asphalt. My mouth was closed, but my front teeth pierced my upper lip. Both teeth were loose for years. One of them died some years later and I needed a root canal and treatment to change its hue from grey to white again.

Back then I felt so ashamed and foolish.

When I turned 36, I realised I was not a fool. I was a high school student and he was a nasty predator who took advantage of his students.

Let’s not dwell on how I introduced a 17- or 18-year-old girl I liked to him because I thought he was cool … and the 36-year-old high school philosophy professor Aleksander ‘Sandi’ Cvek promptly hooked up with her, abandoning the mother of his son.

The mother of his son was also his former high school student. He got her pregnant while she was his student some five years before.

He stayed on as philosophy teacher for quite a while.

I tried to reach him some years ago to buy back the original drawings he ‘bought’ from me with second-hand books when I was eighteen or nineteen. Real stand-up guy. Collector man. Bet he felt real glad getting some of my first drawings for $2.50 a pop.

His email address was dead.

No idea where he ended up now.

I wonder if he’s still fucking his high school students. Maybe he’s a bit too old for that now. Maybe the whiskey got to his dick. Maybe someone even reported him for something.

Who knows.

So … that was my first root canal, courtesy of Aleksander ‘Sandi’ Cvek.

Thank you for nothing, asshole.

Root Canal 2

When I was young we lived in Africa. Then, there, dentistry was reserved for our summer vacations.

First summer back, I’m seven and the dentist—Dr. Vrčon—smells of booze and sways a bit.

I’ve got a cavity in my first adult tooth.

I come out from under his drill and he explains to my mother, “My hand slipped and I broke off a part of the tooth while putting in the filling. Still, no big deal, you can’t see it.”

His hands were shaking with the booze.

My mother shook with rage, but we had a flight back to Africa the next week.

Some years later Dr. Vrčon was kicked out of that clinic, I hear—but I don’t know if this is true. Years ago, adults above my pay grade. Later, I hear, he abandoned his family and found himself a much younger girl and ruined her life, too.

Almost like a pattern?

That tooth stayed weird and undersized. Trouble and cavities and re-fillings. Something new every few years.

Finally all vaccinated, first dental appointment after covid. That tooth was one of those causing trouble. We decide to give it a crown.

Dentist removes the filling. Massive cavity. It’s going to be a root canal first, before a crown.


Something’s off. The roots are weird. Perplexed, the dentist questions me.

What happened with this tooth?

“It was my first adult tooth, the dentist was drunk and broke half of it. So it stayed small.”

Dentist asks how old I was.


Dentist laughs and points out it couldn’t have been an adult tooth. That adult tooth comes in at age nine or ten.

Explanation seems to be, my milk tooth never fell out and the adult tooth never developed.

Also, the drunk Dr. Vrčon was so out of it that he didn’t realise he was drilling a milk tooth, not an adult tooth.

I am unsure if that’s worse or better.

So, maybe he’s not directly responsible, but now we’re trying to do a root canal on a very deeply three-rooted 30+ year-old milk tooth to prep it to carry a crown.

Fingers crossed. The fitting’s in a couple of weeks.

The lesson is, beware of drunk older men.

If they’re old enough to know better and still getting drunk as skunks, there’s something wrong with them and they can hurt you.


Turned 40.

Don’t feel much different. Feel healthier, happier than when I turned 30. Not drinking or smoking anymore probably helps.

Feel like I see the grave-walker geese and realise time is shorter.

More I want to do, more I want to write, more I want to share.

Less time I want to waste.

Time walking the dog is never wasted.

There are few things as wonderful as experiencing the world up close, small and slow, while walking the dog.

Meditation and exercise rolled into one, and cheaper than the gym.

A couple of years ago I decided that my size was pretty much set, so I bought four pairs of jeans of the same size and brand. Two colours. Two to wear, two for backups.

Then we got the dog.

Today I had to buy a new pair of jeans because all the old pairs are now far too big.

Four years ago I turned 36.

One thing I thought to myself when I turned 36:

“Wow, I don’t think I could ever date an 20-year-old now. Any kind of college student. The difference is just too vast.”

Second thing I thought:

“Damnit, that ‘Sandi’ guy was messed up.”

Gotta say, not a fan of guys like that.

I patted myself on the back.

Mostly metaphorically.

Is there a yoga pose, “dog pats its own back?”

I patted myself on the back.

One of the new habits I chose for this year was:

“Don’t have arguments online. Read some books instead. Or just walk the dog.”

Yesterday, I nodded to myself, “yeah, life’s too short for arguments online.”

The world doesn’t become a better place when you think you’ve won an online argument.

Being the Goodie

We all want to be the goodie.

Whether we’re a washed up high school philosophy teacher in three marginal towns on the edge of a tiny country that’s now just the province of a larger European project.

Or a drunk dentist in a sleepy mountain-clad town who wanted to be a cool cat but ended up a balding stoop-shouldered man with a drill.

Or the ancient emperor of a crumbling empire whose angry factions battle for the soul of its metropole.

A bit of humility would be better.

Rather than a goodie, it’s ok to be an ordinary human hypocrite. Might be easier to come to terms with life, our mistakes, and how the other folks around us are just other ordinary human hypocrites with hopes and fears that are just as valid as our own.

But it feels so good to be the goodie.

The protagonist.

The hero against the world.

The white knight battling the red queen to bring light to all the benighted provinces of the realm.

Still, I’ll strive for humility and hypocrisy.

Better a hut on the sidelines than a bloody shadow stretching, stretching farther and farther, to prove to everyone how good the goodie is and how bad the baddies are.

Because if everything is clear. If it’s just goodies and baddies. Well, what’s the excuse for letting the baddies keep sucking air and stealing water?

After all, the baddies are bad.

Bad, bad. Bad.


War, huh, yeah 

What is it good for?

Kids, wars are bad, m’kay?

Don’t do wars.

Just say no.

Buenos. Esta un parabola strana. Just like witches at black masses.

2 replies on “Thirty; Forty; Two Drunk Men”

Happy birthday!

Thank you for celebrating my 40th with me! Yes, my 40-year-old self is happy to think of video games as a party, still 🙂

I also had a baby tooth until I was 40. Mine just took that long to fall out, though. I, too, feel healthier now than I did 10 years ago, for many of the same reasons. I hope the pain around your teeth will pass soon.

The tragedy of the two drunk men make me feel better about my life thus far …

Happy birthday right back at you! 🙂

Thank you – the teeth are doing alright enough. The current dentist is great and good dental care is affordable here in Korea. Two plusses.

As for the drunk men: yeah, it’s like a reverse red queen race. Don’t do anything that dumb, and sooner or later your life feels better than some other humans’.

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