by Frannie M.

In a dream last night my teeth were a mess. It fell into a few categories of “Teeth” dreams in 10,000 Dreams Interpreted (ed. Miller). The dream had loose teeth in it; that means “there will be failures and gloomy tidings.” The dream had my teeth falling out in it; that means that I will have “burdens which will crush [my] pride and demolish [my] affairs. Finally, I spat out my teeth in the dream; this means that I will go through “personal sickness, or sickness in [my] immediate family.”

Teeth have always been a big deal to me. There are words that bring up a string of flash memories, and “teeth” is one of them.

Being told, pre-braces, that I looked like I belonged in a trailer park.

Being in a state of constant envy over an older cousin’s braces.

Being told, by my father, that if I ever got in a fight to grit my teeth.

(This, he said, would give them more resistance should I get punched in the mouth.)

Being in a fight, shortly after this warning, in which I remembered to grit my teeth.

Why did I dream of teeth? There are tooth-related issues going on – a tooth feels weird when I bite down too hard; a dentist appointment has been arranged; a new acquaintance had a bothersome snaggletooth. Perhaps there are real portents to my dream: I will find out on Monday that all of my students failed their Regents exams. Perhaps this Ringleader post will make no sense and I will be doomed a FAIL on the internets. Perhaps I will fall ill, or a family member (I sincerely hope not).

I have been thinking a lot lately about why things are important. I am trying to convince myself that not everything is the most essential thing; whatever comes to mind has, at that moment, top priority in my thinking space. My partner went to meditate this morning. While he was gone, I watched some quality Reality Television, Sister Wives and Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On. When a character went on an exercise program, I immediately decided I must do the same. When Chyna Phillips discussed the importance of douching, I felt I had to do some research into this pressing subject. While my partner cleared his mind of concern, I inundated mine with detritus. And later, when I realized this blog post was due, I wallowed in my inability to clear my mind enough of the accumulation in order to think of something to write. Then I remembered my teeth.

It’s not that I really let TV influence my life in a sickeningly significant way; this is just an example of how my mind flits from place to place. Now that I am thinking about my teeth, I am considering plans of action. They look pretty okay, and aren’t in pain, and the dentist is coming up. Is that enough? Must I fix them now lest some evil befall our family? Can I blame modern society, distraction, Reality Television, for my perceived need to be perfect in every arena, including my teeth?

Which brings me back to the idea of considering why things are important. Are perfect teeth important? They seem so now. I wonder what medieval people, cave people, or even people one hundred years ago would think about our obsession with our smiles, or about what the hell Kim Zolciak is doing with the blindingly white chompers she flashes on “Don’t Be Tardy for the Wedding” as often as she flashes her diamonds and wigs and boobs. Will we still care so much about teeth years from now? My dream interpretation book is from 1995. Will we still be using those? We aren’t claiming our cavities come from worms anymore. We aren’t watching Roseanne (okay, I am). So why am I still interpreting dreams? Why do I worry so about my teeth?

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