Friday, May 19, 2017


Another big day in Bali. Everyday is a big day in Bali, even if sometimes it is just big on its own and has nothing to do with me. Anyway, let's start with my tooth, which fell out. Actually, that was a few days ago, but it counts as part of today because I finally got to the dentist today. 

I wouldn't mind so much if it had been any old tooth, although I don't have that many to spare anymore (and those that I do have are all old, for that matter, like me), but this was one of my front teeth. And it's not being unable to chew that I mind so much as looking like Alfred E. Neuman (for those who remember Mad Magazine). 

Interestingly, as a sort of a side note, it has been suggested by some researchers that brittle teeth have an association with MS. That makes sense to me, since my teeth are either brittle or gone, and it does seem that they began to fall out with increased regularity after I was diagnosed with MS. On the other hand, some researchers dissent, saying that there is no relationship between MS and teeth that absent themselves from one's mouth. I prefer the former view, of course, as it acquits me from personal responsibility. (My wife says the problem is because I eat candy before going to bed, but that's neither here nor there. In my opinion). 

So anyway, I finally managed to hook up with the dentist today and schedule an appointment for 6 pm. 

Before describing that appointment, however, we will set this aside for a moment in the interest of chronology. 

Earlier on in the day, my wife suddenly decided that we could no longer live without a more sturdy board beneath the cushion on our sofa. Actually, I shouldn't say "suddenly", because, in all fairness, she has mentioned this in the past. The existing support board is quite thin and tends to crackle and snap rather ominously when people sit on the sofa. Happily, most of the people we know are pretty light in weight, as Indonesians tend to be, and so nobody has actually fallen through the sofa as of yet. I suppose that I'm the heaviest person hereabouts, so if anyone had fallen through, it would have been me. And so I would have known. 

Nonetheless, this was something that needed repair, or, rather, correction. Now. Today. 

To that end, we went looking for a shop nearby that might have "boards". And I'll be damned if we didn't find one just a few blocks from the house (damned because I had confidently claimed that there were no such shops nearby). 

The shop owner showed us some boards, and my wife chose one perhaps 3/4 inch in width. Nobody is likely to fall through 3/4 inch of solid wood (unless, of course, they happen to be falling from a great height, and I can't really see how that would happen). 

Now, the man had many boards of varying thickness, but they were all one size, and we were told that one has to buy the entire board, not slices of a board, to the tune of 200.000 Rupiah per board (around 15 dollars). 

Well, okay. In the interest of sofa safety. 

Will we want to take the pieces, too?

Well, why not? One never knows when pieces of a board might come in handy, to be used as ... I don't know ... weapons? Cushion supports for other sofas that we don't have?

But the thing is, we had neglected to measure our board needs before visiting the shop. Therefore, we drove on home to do so; and, instead of measuring, as it turned out, I just loaded the old board (roughly the weight of styrofoam) into the back of the car, and trundled on back to the board shop (sans wife). 

This worked out just fine. The man and his two helpers placed the old styrofoam board on top of the thick new board, made some measurements, and drew some lines. One of the young helpers then went to his truck and came back with a saw. A handsaw. You know, the old-fashioned sharp toothed sort for which you add your own sweat and muscle power. (Or, as I understand, you can also make music with these saws). 

The two young men went to work, and the shop owner said, "You want a beer?"

Although I very rarely drink alcohol of any sort anymore, this seemed like such a pleasant, friendly offer, and I agreed. And so the owner straight away sent one of the young men (the sawyers) to purchase two bottles of beer. Upon delivery of these, I was invited to the shop owner's office (a little desk tucked between paint cans and tools and drums of plaster and nails and screws, and boards) to sip and talk. After all, it was bound to take the sawyers some considerable amount of time to cut this 3/4 inch board into several pieces. 

"So, where are you from?" the man asked.


"Ah, Donald Trump!" 

Instantly, I gave the thumbs down sign, even as his own thumb just as instantly went up. 

"What! You like Donald Trump?" 

Hearing the disbelief in my voice, the shop owner answered in the negative, and his thumb floated unceremoniously into his pocket. 

"No," he said. "No Donald Trump. Barack Obama!" 


We exchange a high-five. 

"You should have a power saw," I suggested. 

"Yes! Those are great. Zzzzzzz! But, we're not that kind of shop."

So we talked on about personal history, and background, and family, and number of children, and number of wives (I had him beat by one), and it was all quite relaxing and enjoyable. He showed me photos of a house he is building in Sanur ('Maybe you want to rent it?') and photos of his children, and a video of his 6 year-old daughter learning to speak English. 

About the time we finished our beers, the sawyers finished their sawing. So we talked to the sawyers for a while, and now we are all good friends. 

"Come by any time," the owner (Komang by name) said. "If you're walking, just drop by. I like to speak to Americans.

"And I like to speak to Indonesians." 

"But I am Balinese."

"Well, even better, then." 

Now about that tooth. 

I showed up at 6 pm sharp. The dentist, who knows me from previous visits, and knows my poverty when it comes to teeth, had a look and, yes, a little laugh. 

"Terlihat benar-benar konyol, ya?" (Looks pretty ridiculous). 


Well, it was decided that I would need a crown and a bridge, linking the appliance to an intact tooth some teeth distant. Two million Rupiah. Good Lord. And I had been worried about a 15 dollar board! Could she maybe make wooden teeth? We have several sections of pointless board at the house. 

Ah well. 

The remainder of the front tooth had to be pulled first, and now I'll have to wait about 10 days for the site to heal. Which will give me plenty of time to think where the two million Rupiah might come from. 

So ends, as I write, this big day in Bali. 

Tomorrow, I'm sure, will be another. 

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