Tuesday, February 21, 2017


My nine months of dental surgery hell are fast coming to an end. 

Yesterday morning at eight, I had my next-to-last appointment with one of the two yankers I have been seeing bi-weekly since July. 

I arrived, as I so often do, at my appointment 30 minutes early. I figure if I can get in early, I can get out early. And there's nothing I'd rather do than get out of my dentists' offices. 

Next door to the building my dentist is housed in, I noticed a small, old-timey pharmacy. The kind of place that is not part of a larger chain of stores, and chock-full of off-brands of elixirs, lineaments, salves, lotions, notions and balms of the sort you don't usually see.

I walked into the store. There was a pretty pharmacist standing behind the pharmacy counter.

"Do you have a styptic pencil?" I asked her.

She looked at me like I was asking for some exotic sex toy.

"It's a small pencil that stops the bleeding when you nick yourself shaving."

She had no idea.

Then I saw one hanging on the wall. I pointed to it and she handed it to me.

It was a large pencil-shaped index finger-sized styptic. 

"That will last me the rest of my life," I said to her.

She was in no mood to kibbitz. 

"$3.49," she insisted.

I think the last time I bought a styptic pencil was 1979 and it cost .79 cents.

I suppose it is another relic of the world I grew up in, a world that is now all but gone. Gone is Vitalis, Pepsodent toothpaste and statements like I said the other day at work when the elevator stopped on every floor, "This is a real milk-run," I said, not realizing that milk-runs have gone the way of liberal democracy.

It's hard sometimes to have a memory of things past--a memory of what was, to me at least, a simpler, saner time.

I don't know what people do these days when they cut themselves shaving. Those little nicks can bleed like a sonofabitch and a small piece of toilet paper just doesn't do the trick. 

So, I'm sticking to my old ways.

I'll staunch my blood with styptic. Watch "Citizen Kane" when it's on TV. And listen to Ma Vlast by Smetana whenever I get the chance, or anything by the Beatles, if I'm feeling a bit more contemporary.

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