The Dentures, 1983 by Odd Nerdrum
My mother-in-law is a very frugal person. So was her husband, Hal. He died three years ago. Before he died, he informed her that he had quite a bit of gold in his mouth from dental work over the years. She’s no dumby, and she is a frugal person, so once he was gone and before he was cremated, she told the mortician that she would take the gold that was in his mouth, thank you. Now, I myself have a gold crown, and one time it fell out. It just looked like a mangled piece of jewelry, and I assumed that what came out of Hal’s mouth looked the same. I even imagined the mortician using pliers and his knee to pillage the gold from poor Hal’s mouth.
That December, my mother-in-law told us that she would be sending her typical Christmas package of wrapped gifts, and included would be a small box of miscellaneous gold trinkets, as well as the remains of Hal– his dental work. She wanted our son Dylan to cash all of it in for himself. When the package arrived. Dylan tore into it, anxious to behold his treasure trove of gold. He had delusions of making a down-payment on a Ferrari. Sure enough, the little box felt heavy with gold. We huddled close as he slowly opened the lid, half expecting a mysterious golden light to emanate from within. What we saw almost made him drop the box instead. There, on a tuft of cotton, grinning at us, was Hal’s full set of upper choppers that we had seen a million times in his ear to ear grin. They weren’t gold on the front, of course, because they had veneers. We stood there and moaned and groaned for quite a while with our hands cupped over our own mouths.
It is a holiday tradition with Dylan, and me that we go to the Christmas store, and pick out an ornament that in someway relates to the year. As we perused the store that December trying to think of something, we suddenly remembered Hal. Gee, what could we get to commemorate Gramps? The answer was instantaneous. We couldn’t get out of that store fast enough once the idea dawned on us that we could just tie a string around Hal’s teeth and hang those babies right on the tree.
We still haven’t had the heart to cash them in, and they probably are worth a small fortune judging by the weight. At the very least, I should paint them. Odd did.