Mike Buzzelli

Column Mike Buzzelli

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and published author. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant, Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine, and an active board member of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, the Carnegie Arts Initiative and the Carnegie Screenwriters. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

Tooth tales

May 16, 2014

A few short months ago, I had a wild sitcom moment in my life. I lost my front tooth. It was pretty traumatic. I couldn’t say the letter F, which, ironically, is the first letter I spoke when I lost the tooth.

Actually, I lost it twice. First on a trip to Seven Springs, and then a year later the crown came out at a party. The second time, I lost an additional piece of the original tooth and now needed more extensive work to keep the crown in.

I had an appointment to get the permanent crown on a cold Thursday morning in February. Wednesday night, my friend Brian asked me to go to the North Side Elks Club to hear the Banjo Players. If you’re not familiar, a roving gang of banjo players takes to the Elks Club stage and plays a zillion old songs.

“Hello my baby! Hello my honey. Hello my ragtime girl!”

Before I went, I was scraping ice off my car. Somehow, I lost my temporary crown. I thought, “Well. I’ll just be hanging with Brian. Most of the banjo players probably don’t have a lot of their original teeth. It’ll be fine.”

I was one of the first people to arrive at the Elks Club that night. Then, Brian walked in with our friend Missy. I didn’t know she was coming. I stood up, covered my mouth and said, “I have to leave!”

It was too appalling to face two people without my front tooth. I looked like a hillbilly. Not even the Beverly Hills kind; even the Clampetts had all of their teeth!

With my hand over my mouth, I explained my situation. “Don’t laugh, but my temporary crown came out and I have no front tooth.” Of course, when I said it, I sounded like Gopher from Winnie the Pooh, the one who whistles when he talks. They immediately laughed. Never start a sentence with “Don’t laugh.” Most people will anyway.

Brian couldn’t hold it in. He said, “It gets worse! I invited the girls from Whirl Magazine to come join us.”

I panicked. Whirl Magazine is mostly pictures of beautiful people at fun events. I didn’t want to be in the magazine looking like a character from “Deliverance.”

At one point, I grafted a Chiclet (Orbit Winterfresh, actually) to the remaining stub of a tooth. Yes, I felt like Lucy Ricardo trying to hide her face from William Holden. If the gum didn’t have fluorescent blue specks, I would have gotten away with it.

All night, I tried not to smile, which was nearly impossible for two reasons. Missy and Brian are two of the funniest people I know, and they are both pretty well known in Pittsburgh. A crowd gathered at our table.

When I laughed, I covered my mouth like a Japanese schoolgirl. When I spoke, I put the menu in front of my face. Finally, I relented and spoke normally. I laughed and joked and even danced with Missy in front of the crowd. Did I mention there was cheap beer?

At the end of the night, I was talking about my dental appointment.

And someone said, “What are you going to the dentist for?” I was flabbergasted.

I responded with, “This,” and I showed the gaping hole in my smile. None of the others had noticed. I looked to Brian and Missy and they burst into laughter. Sometimes, you can spend a whole evening being self-conscious when, maybe, you should just relax and have fun like everyone else.



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