The Curmudgeon


Sunday, June 09, 2019

The Father of Teeth

Text for today: Cavities lxxiv-lxxxvii

Quite irrelevantly, however, the Father of Teeth had previously encountered a little middle-aged man with a shiny haircut, a slick handshake and a necktie of oculoclastic panchromaticality. This worthy sat under the hot desert sun, obsessively arranging and rearranging patterns of pale stones while the hair-cream bubbled cheerily on his scalp. The various communities on the edge of the desert held him in superstitious reverence, and habitually left offerings of food and small, fluorescent sex toys in his honour.

The little man leapt to his feet and pumped the gnarled claw of the Father of Teeth with sudorific sincerity. An ellipse of pale stones was laid out around him, with narrow flints at each end and progressively larger and blunter stones around the rim. This, the little man proclaimed, represented the secret of perfect social stability, diagrammatically petrified for anyone to understand, and for everyone, from the most exalted plutocrat to the second-lowest traitor in the land, to appreciate and obey or else.

"See," said the little man, standing at the very centre of the ellipse and pointing at the narrow flints with his longest and most polished sex toy: "the incisors at the front, because they're the sharpest, and then," he pointed at the roughly conical stones which were next in line, "the canines, which are the soldiers and spies who support them, and finally," pointing at the largest and roughest stones, "the molars, which grind away humbly in the background and make the world digestible."

In the black leathery eye-bags of the Father of Teeth was a dangerous overabundance of wrinkles that might have warned a more prudent observer, but the little man continued with heedless enthusiasm:

"... The circular structure of the schematic demonstrates the layout of both upper and lower jaws, to emphasise the structural symmetry of the system. In real life, of course, the personnel would mesh with one another in form and function, but only within their own class: incisors with incisors, premolars with premolars and so forth. It would never do for one of these," he rapped his pointer lightly against one of the stone incisors, and then against one of the stone molars, "to grind against one of these, now would it? Violate a system worked out over millennia by the natural forces of evolutionary dentistry? I should think not, indeed!"

But even as he spoke, the grin of the Father of Teeth led with the molars, while his incisors and canines and premolars bowed their way to the back. As the pale stones rose whistling into the air and streaks of black light seared his necktie, the little man's face took on the nicotine hues of shock.

"You fish," said the Father of Teeth; "you presume to consider the arrangement of your bodily calcium an eternal design for the world, and yet you have never considered that rocks have no roots."

And when the various communities at the edge of the desert ventured out to make their offerings once more, they found no elliptical patterns of pale stones, nobody waiting to accept their tributes; and of the necktie which had been visible for miles they could discern not even a glimmer. There was a small rock-pile or cairn, which some said reminded them of a giant's teeth extracted and heaped up at random, especially as the rocks appeared stained and discoloured as if from persistent chewing on something bad; but they were not the kind of communities to stick their heads in a giant's mouth, as the local idiom had it, and they left the cairn well alone until the wind and the weather wore it away, along with the tributes which they left lying about the district just in case.


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