Here’s something I learned this week: When you tell people you’ve pulled a muscle in your jaw almost every single one of them will make a blow job joke. Except the people at your dentist’s office. There, they will look at you sympathetically and say, “stress?”
Did you know you could do that? Just wake up one morning barely able to open or close your mouth because you’ve pulled a muscle in your jaw by grinding your teeth and sleeping on your face the wrong way? I did not know that. But now I am living proof.
But here’s the thing, I don’t feel like I’ve been particularly stressed. I mean, no more than usual. Yes, I have six-year old twins, and I’m job hunting, and I am often kept awake at night shamefully cataloguing all the things I wish I hadn’t eaten that day. But all that is so pedestrian. It’s no reason to go around spraining your mouth.
Think of the mothers in Syria right now, fearing for the lives of their children. Think of the people out of work for years. Homeless people, sick people. A billion people in the world with non-pedestrian problems. Real problems. And fully functioning jaws.
I don’t like being this weak. I mean, if a little job hunt and 30 extra pounds sends my body into full-on panic mode, what am I going to do when the shit really hits. An earthquake? The apocalypse? A real problem that demands that I woman up and deal? I am afraid my body will just melt into a puddle of goo, like those Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark (man, that was a good movie).
My dad took my brother and me to see The Melting Man when we were 2 and 8. It totally traumatized both of us for a long time.
It’s all, obviously, a metaphor for getting older, for the slow betrayal of your body, once such a faithful ally. First you realize that you can no longer turn ten cartwheels in a row without dying, then you realize you have no interest in casually playing frisbee ever again as long as you live, then you start to hate bending over to tie your shoes, then some whiskers grow in weird places, then you have to hold the menu at arm’s length to read it. Then you pull a muscle in your jaw sleeping. And finally, you pee your pants at your son’s wedding and decide it’s time to move into assisted living.
I do not have to wait for the apocalypse, it’s already begun, very slowly. I am melting, but you’d have to have one of those slow motion cameras that show plants growing and flowers blooming to see it.
Also, my eyelid has been twitching for a about 8 weeks.