I was running through my mental To-Do list earlier today (clean fridge, buy milk, dust turtle, etc.) when I started wondering about To-Don’t lists. I think everyone has a To-Don’t list, whether they’re aware of it or not. Mine varies from day-to-day, but it always has a few old standbys.
1. Don’t Die
2. Don’t Panic
3. Don’t Talk about Fight Club
3. Don’t Stop Believin’
4. Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina
5. Don’t Be Stupid
Lately I haven’t been following my To-Don’t list very well at all. I recently realized that my blatant disregard for Point #5 (Don’t Be Stupid) was making me pretty anxious, which goes directly against Point #2 (Don’t Panic). I was doing so much panicking, in fact, that I had almost convinced myself I was on the verge of neglecting Point #1, the cardinal don’t: Don’t Die.
You see, at some point I subconsciously decided I have enough adult responsibilities. I pay the bills, I shop for groceries, I keep things tidy, I go to work, and I tuck in my shirt. That’s a lot of stuff. An extraordinarily lazy part of my brain thought, “If I maintain these five grownup activities, I will have achieved adulthood. No! No more things. This will suffice.” Conveniently, that meant I didn’t have to do really lame stuff like go to the doctor, or flush my car’s radiator, or get a haircut. Life was pretty grand.
Then one night last week, everything fell apart. It started when I ran out of floss before bed. For reasons I can’t explain, this filled me with a horrible sense of dread. How long has it been since I went to the dentist? I turned the light out to go to sleep, but it was at least three million degrees in my bedroom and that was clearly not going to happen.
The Things that Keep Me Up at Night
– When did I last see a doctor? I don’t even have a doctor!
– Oh God, I bet this mole is cancer. I bet all the moles are cancer! I’ll have to go to the hospital.
– What if my car breaks down on the way? I need to get the oil changed again. Has it been three months or 3,000 miles? Wait, is it three months AND 3,000 miles? Does that even make sense?
– WHY IS MY HEAD SO HOT RIGHT NOW? WHAT KIND OF HUMAN HAS THIS MUCH HAIR? I’LL HAVE TO ASK AT THE HOSPITAL!
When I finally fell asleep, I dreamed about a Full House remake. It was a dark time.
The next morning, I scheduled every grownup chore I’d been putting off. I made two doctors’ appointments, a dentist appointment, and a reservation at a hair salon. I went by an oil place on my lunch break. I tried to quell the panic, and I think I did pretty well right up until my dentist appointment last Friday.
Nobody likes going to the dentist. I’ve never had to have a dental procedure of any kind, but the challenge of trying to keep up a conversation with someone who has their hands in my mouth is more than enough to scare me away for years. Things were going pretty well this time, though. The dentist called my skull shape “stupid-looking”, but I let it slide. If I’m murdered and my remains are found, someone will be able to identify me by my stupid-looking skull and that’s really all that matters.
Then something weird happened. The dentist was poking around in my mouth and I was trying to envision my happy place (it’s almost exactly the same as reality, except no one puts their hands in your face holes) when he said “HUH” loudly.
“Unh?” I said eloquently. He leaned over to the technician and whispered something that made her scoot her chair closer to my mouth and look inside.
“HUH,” she said.
“Unh?!” I said again, because clearly they hadn’t heard me the first time.
“You have a growth,” he said.
“UNH?!” I said.
“You know how the roof of your mouth has a big bump on it?” he asked.
“Unh…” I said.
“No one else has that. It’s nothing to worry about. The bones in your mouth just didn’t get the memo to stop growing. I told you your skull was stupid-looking. Also, did you know you have a hitch in your jaw that’s preventing it from closing in a straight line?”
“Unh,” I said, playing it cool. On the inside, though, I was totally freaked out.
My entire life, I never gave a second thought to the inside of my mouth. If I had, I would have assumed everyone’s mouth felt exactly the same. It was sort of a beautiful idea, actually. We’re different colors and shapes and sizes, but we’re united in one thing– our mouths feel like mouths.
Except now I know mine doesn’t. Here I was thinking I was sharing the human experience, and 23 years later I find that I’ve been living a lie. I keep asking around– I haven’t found anyone like me yet. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but my convex mouth and I are completely alone in a cold, concave world. It’s like being kicked out of a club I didn’t even know I was in.
Anyway, I’ve had to supplement my To-Don’t list since that fateful day.
6. Don’t Overanalyze Your Weird Mouth, You Freaky Mutant