Monday, January 08, 2007

The Twelve Woes of Toothless


This is a story of a young man’s quest for the structured, well-planned, unencumbered life he meant himself to live and the jungle of capriciousness and insensitivity that stood in his way leading to the composing of one of the greatest songs in rock and roll history.

There was a young man named Tom. One of his front teeth was missing, replaced by a whittled acorn, so his friends would call him Toothless Tom. Some factions tried to call him Squirrel-fodder Toothed Tom, but it never caught on. Once, somebody referred to him in the abbreviated form of his nickname as “Tooth”. This made Tom angry. He claimed calling him that was a contradiction of terms and he would not stand for it. So, people would only call him “Tooth” when he was seated. This woeful event was merely one example of the social afflictions Tooth would endure in his first semester in his Junior year in college. You see, Toothless Tom lived in a rented house with a group of rapscallions who didn’t much care to be bothered by the tribulations of others, especially when they were the cause of much of such misery. It took a certain breed of numbskull to put up with these fellows, and Tooth was not of that gene pool.

His torment began early in the semester when he realized one of his twenty-five cent pot pies was missing from the freezer. Most of the housemates shared food, when necessary, but Tooth was strict with his supply. He would be willing to sell you some of his food, for a profit, if you were in dire straights, but under no circumstances would he give it away, especially an extravagant item such as a pot pie. In reality, Tooth had eaten the pot pie in a drunken stupor and forgot about it. He suspected everybody as the thief and never trusted anyone again. And rightly so. Once the others learned of Tooth’s penchant for the persnickety, they looked for opportunities to abuse him, in loving and respectful ways – such as borrowing his sodas once in a while, or shaking his refrigerator so that food would slip from his shelf to the one below, at which point the item would be under the jurisdiction of Tooth’s own rule: You can only eat what is on your own shelf. Consequently, Tooth would lose rights to the food item and was unable to figure out a way to shake the refrigerator to make the food jump back up to his shelf.

There were two refrigerators in the house. Four of the roommates shared one, and three shared the other. The four person refrigerator was shared communally by those users. Food could be placed anywhere, and people were trusted to only consume their own food, but if you needed to borrow something, have at it. It was all so beautiful. Tooth stored his provisions in the three person refrigerator, where he ruled it with an iron oven mitt. Each person was to have a designated shelf and could only keep his food on that shelf. He preached to his fridgemates, “Do not even look at another man’s shelf, lest be seduced by temptation to take my butter.” Unfortunately for Tooth, the freezer had no shelves, so food was stored in a rogue and mischievous manner. Tooth had difficulty coordinating the freezer to ensure the safety of his frozen chattel. Eventually, the freezer became overloaded and disordered. Tooth could not keep track of his frosty favorites. While attempting to reorganize the freezer, he realized that there were three bags of three different kinds of beans in there. This seemed bombastically unnecessary to Tooth. Who in their right mind would ever need three kinds of beans? He believed you should buy one bag of beans, eat it, buy another one, eat that, and then buy the third. Such opulence of maintaining three different kinds of beans simultaneously was deplorable! This was an outrage. He called a house meeting to air his grievance. His plea was met by guffaws. Guffaws were the primary legislative tool in the house, slightly more popular than using indifference to settle issues.

Many of Tooth’s issues involved food. Tooth was fiscally responsible when purchasing food. One might say he had a special economical gift when stretching the value of a dollar. Still another might suggest he was miserly. Yet others, most others, would swear on their dead ant lion’s grave that he was a cheap bastard, as evidenced by his weekly eleven dollar food bill, while others would spend at least fifty dollars. His parsimony was not due to a lack of funds. Unreasonable fear of pecuniary calamity drove his thrift as he was sure the “rainy day” was just over the horizon. This fear manifested itself in an incident that nearly cost Tooth his life. He bought some chicken with one of his housemates for a cookout. The cookout had to be rescheduled from its original date, so the chicken remained in the refrigerator for nine days. When exposed to the nose on the day of the cookout, the chicken let out a screech of foul fowl odor strong enough to knock out an anosmatic pig farmer. The chicken was three days past rancid. So as not to lose the $2.48 he invested in the chicken, Tooth decided to cook it, while his co-investor chose to mooch from the rest of the cookout fare. Against the counsel of his housemates, Tooth braved the chicken. He would have certainly died of food poisoning, if not for the efforts of his housemates, the same cohabitants who filled his life with anguish, who playfully made him drink so much beer, his eager regurgitory system could not remain idle.

Most were surprised Tooth could even grill a chicken, let alone be killed by a putrid one. Having never had to cook for himself prior to moving into the house, Tooth learned by trial and error, asking his pals for help when he needed it. On his inaugural visit to the wonderful world of macaroni and cheese, he took note that the directions called for the noodles to be boiled in exactly six cups of water. Not being sure of the amount, he filled a sixteen ounce Long Island glass and inquired to his mates, “Is this six cups of water?” Yes, of course it is, Toothless. Tooth soon learned the difference between two cups and six cups as he scraped scorched macaroni from the bottom of his cooking pot.

During the daily life in the house, things tended to break. It may have had something to do with the frequent field goal kicking football games in the house or the outbreaks of wrestlemania or the sudden fumble drills or general haphazard living style of the accursed living mates. In the course of field goal kicking sessions, where a pressurized air-filled two-liter plastic bottle was kicked at a kitchen window that served as the goal posts, a couple of windows happened to break. As entropy would have it, it is much easier to break a window than it is to fix it. Consequently, these windows remained broken for quite some time. This irritated Tooth, as he saw the heat from the house escape through the broken window, thereby potentially raising the heating bill. Tooth declared that his dad said he should not have to pay his part of the heating bill until those windows were repaired. This declaration was met, of course, by guffaws from the others. To his dismay, Tooth was charged the same as every other tenant when it came time to pay the bills. The windows were eventually repaired sometime after Tooth moved out of the house.

It was not only the shenanigans of his housemates that railed Tooth. There was also the issue of his classes. Tooth was a pre-med student. Consequently, he thought his educational plight was more important than the other dwellers’, for he would be saving lives someday. He may have been correct, but the others would have none of his grumble. They were busy merry making and carousing, usually to loud levels of clanking, and were not concerned with his five physio labs and his twelve pages of homework. They argued that the library wasn’t held open four twenty-four hours a day if students were meant to study at home. If that didn’t convince Tooth his entreatment for tranquility was denied, the guffaws surely did.

Tooth made some attempts to assimilate into the cantankerous lifestyle that enveloped him. His housemates spent many days kicking the hacky sack around on the front lawn in lieu of going to class. Tooth would come home from his studies, hauling a refrigerator sized backpack full of books, and race upstairs to don his high school wrestling shoes so he could “hack in”. Unfortunately, his only hacky sack move, the awkward shin graze, did not perpetuate the hack. Tooth was not very limber and had difficulty performing any activity requiring dexterity. In fact, it was an accomplishment if he could perform his signature hacky sack move without falling. His roommates, in rare moments of sensitivity, encouraged him, but the hack circle usually dispersed shortly after Tooth’s participation.

The weekly NFL confidence pool served as another social activity for Tooth. He loved football. More importantly, he lusted after the sixteen dollar payout the pool afforded. Tooth would spend hours analyzing the match ups and meticulously ranking his choices as dictated by the rules of the pool. One week Tooth mistakenly ranked two different games with eight points. The second game, where he chose Miami to win, by pool rule, was disqualified. Miami ended up winning that game, but Tooth did not reap the benefit of gaining those eight points, because he had already won eight points on an earlier game. This faux pas was the determining difference in the standings that week. Had he submitted his picks correctly, Tooth would have won for the first time, ever, and could have eaten free for a week and a half with the winnings. He begged and pleaded with the pool commissioner, but was met with guffaws and a word of advice, “If we have no rules, we have nothing, which is pretty much what you’ve won so far.” Tooth was devastated, and was sure to impart his feelings about it each week thereafter.

To relieve his stressful existence, Tooth turned to the magical world of phone sex. He came to rely on those strangers’ voices as his perceived only source of love. They gave him strength to carry on and helped build his sense of self worth and his hand muscles. Eventually, one of his counselors fell in love with him and discovered where he lived. She fell more in love with him when she realized she lived in the neighboring town. They met, and she began to initiate the phone sex calls, for free. This practice soon interfered with Tooth’s studies and she, “Porn Queen” as his housemates called her, became a nuisance to him, no different than every other aspect of his life.
He realized his life was a never ending stream of nuisances. Tooth determined that the cause of his suffering was the house that he lived in. His life was nuisance free prior to moving in. After one long semester, he chose to move out and forget the entire experience.

Unfortunately for Tooth, these were no mere housemates with which he lived. These were members of the legendary rock group Leprosy. They were genius song writers and could turn any mundane event or set of events into an extraordinary piece of music (they COULD do this, but they chose not to do it very often), especially when emotionally touched by a situation, as they were with the trials of Tooth. They were actually very sensitive human beings. Tooth would have learned this had he not been bitching constantly about every little inconvenience that came his way, or was thrust upon him, as it were. Leprosy transformed Tooth’s plight into a rock and roll anthem for the ages (borrowing the melody to The 12 Days of Christmas) to record his strife until forever. Below are the lyrics that torment Tooth until this day.

The Twelve Woes of Toothless
By Leprosy

Oh, the twelve woes of Toothless just happen to be

Twelve pages of homework

Eleven dollar food bill

Ten calls from porn queen

Nine day old chicken

Eight points on Miami

Seven missing sodas*

Six cups of water

FIVE PHYSIO LABS

Four useless limbs

Three kinds of beans

Two broken windows

And a pot pie in a pear tree.


All recordings of the song had been tragically lost in the Mammoth Leper** Emigration of 1987 and the band has yet to re-recorded it. Still, the lyrics remain in the hearts of all of those who care to remind children everywhere to stop whining about stuff. Sometimes on a quiet summer night at Bull Frog Lake, if you sneak in under the Forest Preserve “No Admittance” chain, and you listen carefully, you can hear the anthem being sung hauntingly in the distance. Because Leprosy has also snuck into the Forest Preserve and are drunk and wooping it up on the other side of the lake.

* revised as an acceptable replacement lyric, "Seven former roommates” after Tooth moved out. Either lyric is correct. Technically, Tooth only had six former roommates because there were only seven people living in the house at the time of Tooth, but the new lyric was written at a time when there were eight people living in the house, and everybody was too apathetic to adjust for inflation.

** Yes, they were mammoth lepers.

12 comments:

HR said...

"Such opulence of maintaining three different kinds of beans simultaneously was deplorable!"

Wow. That's amazing. Jane Austen is kicking herself for never getting one off as good as that one before she died.

May I have your permission to put that on a t-shirt?

(Oh, and I'm first, but that just means I have no life.)

P-Geo said...

Beauty Post!

Thanks for taking me back to a simpler time, when dosing a roommates mixed vegetables with DDT was viewed as simple tomfoolery and the thought of an attempted murder charge was something better left to Barney Jones.

I always hoped that the Porn Queen and LH (aka L'Hospital's) would have "hooked up" and put on a show for us on the kitchen table.

Then reality sets in and I remembered that we threw away that useless piece of furniture as it was taking up valuable space for beer and the six foot inflatable Godzilla.

XOXO

PG

Sid F'er said...

I can't believe I volunteered to take his place.

Second the beauty post.

keysunset said...

the lyrics remain in the hearts of all of those who care to remind children everywhere to stop whining about stuff

sniff, sniff, I'm gonna teach it to my children ...

I am laughing so hard I am crying over this. Indeed "beauty post"!

Thanks, darlin' Moist!

(and if THAT's what y'all are gonna do with the table at Leper House, I'm not worrying over fixing it anymore! :-D )

Leper Hopeful said...

WOW. I'm in awe.

del said...

Wow, the story behind the music. I'm touched that you would share this with us, your humble public.

It took a certain breed of numbskull to put up with these fellows
As it still does today.

All recordings of the song had been tragically lost
All the more need for Leprosy to reform. This song MUST be heard again, on this, the 20th anniversary of the song of Toothless!

Anonymous said...

Wow - what a story!

Can't wait for the "Behind The Music" explantion of "Animal-Lingus"

dalebud said...

I'm feeling warm all over (and much younger) after reading that post. I believe the foul fowl was dubbed "fart chicken." Uncle Moist, perhaps someday you'll share the epic of Tooth's last Monday night at Leper House "...when 'Behind the Music' continues."

IUJD said...

WHERE'S MY POTPIE?

SGB said...

I smell a VH1 special!

Hollywood calling? said...

What a captivating tale. For me, it was very reminiscent of A Christmas Story, but with a bigger musical payoff. I could picture creeping marauders sneaking into the kitchen to shake the refrigerator, and imagined a voice like Jean Shepherd’s narrating throughout, particularly this segment:

“He would have certainly died of food poisoning, if not for the efforts of his housemates…who playfully made him drink so much beer, his eager regurgitory system could not remain idle.”

Though I was getting a visual from Stand by Me, wherein Davey (aka Lardass) projectile vomits uncontrollably onto nearby onlookers, it really doesn’t matter. They’re both heartwarming classics that have become a part of our collective psyche, and the Twelve Woes of Toothless is destined to join them. Loved it. I can hardly wait for the movie…

A + + +

p.s. Is it possible that Tooth purposely ate the chicken to extract his revenge on his housemates?

doug_plank said...

Why didn't he write his name on his food with a Sharpee?

I have that song on a DAT Audio tape. Unfortunately my DAT tape player was crushed when my BETA tape storage shelf broke.

I'm sorry I even brought that up.