My right front tooth broke again. It shattered completely when I bit into a piece of toast, which is how it broke the first time. I managed to collect a few shards of it from my mouth, but the rest had turned to dust and gotten lost in the toast, or had ended up down my throat.

I kept what was left of my sad old tooth, which was a decade-old porcelain crown. I don’t know why. It is useless now. It has served its purpose and now it is dead.

I remember the first time my decommissioned police car was stolen in Oakland, and how upset I was about it. It was recovered a week later, but by then I had already felt all the emotions I was ever going to feel about it, and so I felt nothing. Four weeks later it was stolen again from the same street, and all I could do was laugh.

And so this is what I did when my tooth broke again: I felt nothing and I laughed.

Except it didn’t taken long for me to feel something, because beneath this fake tooth was a wretched little vampire fang that was once my real tooth. And now it was exposed to the world again—was exposed to hot and cold air, and hot and cold beverages, and so on. It also looked weird and hideous and made me look weird and hideous too.

It was Saturday evening when all this happened. I called the emergency line on the back on my dental insurance card. A woman on the other end said it was too late to come in—all the dentists had gone home for the night. She told me I would have to call again first thing Monday morning.

For the next two days I stayed inside and chewed with my back teeth. I drank lukewarm water and lukewarm tea. I brushed around the vampire fang. I talked and breathed as little as possible.

On Monday I saw a dentist. She brought in a sort of tackle box full of differently-shaped temporary crowns. She tried dozens of them to find one that most closely matched my left front tooth. Eventually she succeeded, and so she went to work sanding and drilling and carving and so on. It took a long time. I fell asleep in the chair a few times. The dentist woke me up when she’d finished customizing the temporary crown. She glued it into my skull and told me to be careful when flossing. Then she sent me home.

This thing is awful. It is crooked and feels rough when I slide my tongue over it. It is also pre-stained yellow, which sucks, because my dentist pointed out that my teeth are actually pretty god dang white! She handed me a mirror. “It might stick out a little,” she said. Holy lord! It stuck out a lot!

For God’s sake, man, I have got to get this thing out of my mouth. I can’t stop thinking about it!

Next Monday I have an appointment with another dentist. This is the dentist who repaired my crown a few months ago when it was still salvageable. I told him then, and I’m going to tell him again Monday morning: “Doc, I’m going gold.”

The receptionist told me on the phone that it would take about a week and a half for them to make it in the lab. I already have an appointment scheduled for the end of the month to get that gold tooth permanently fitted into my mouth.

Before she hung up, the receptionist laughed and said: “Looks like you’re getting a gold tooth for Christmas.”

To which I replied: “Merry Christmas, little Ryan.”

Apparently these things can last something like thirty or forty years. I’ll let you know how that goes. Until then—oh, God!—I guess I’ll continue to talk and breathe as little as possible. Hell, I’m sure everyone’s going to be happy about that!!