The Possum and the Pliers: a true fairytale

He was born in the wrong century.

He'd rather operate a table saw than a computer.  

He collects tools like people collect coins or vintage labels.

He can make anything... including moon boots out of duct tape.

He can fix anything. Well....almost anything......

Which brings me to a story.


Copyright 2011 Ms. Fish

Once in time, in the arid land of honeybees and industry, there lived a man called Possum.

Possum grew from a young boy who loved to play with tools into a man who loved to play with tools. Now, with thick peppery hair, bronzed muscular limbs from years of swimming, and hands strong enough to open even the stubbornest pickle jar, Possum had grown increasingly attractive with age.

He had grown in other ways too, such as his ability to purchase tools, and his ability to diagnose and treat his own physical ailments. Without having taken a single class in physiology, pathophysiology, diagnostic reasoning, or disease processes, Possum could intuitively identify what was wrong with him AND what to do to fix it, which usually involved taking mega-doses of Vitamin C.

One morning three weeks ago, Possum awoke to a find a surprising discovery: a giant gumball lodged in his right cheek. After a thorough investigation using one of my personal favorite tools (his tongue), Possum discovered there wasn't a gumball in his cheek after all, but rather an uncomfortable balloooning of buccal tissues sporting the color of a pomegranate and the pain of a hornet's sting. It wasn't long before his teeth, head, neck, jaw, and gums were throbbing with rebellious messages of something gone awry.

With his trusty diagnostic acumen and little time for a dental consultation, Possum announced a remedy for his self-declared infection. "I'll just periodically rinse my mouth with hot hot hot water and rinse / burn away the nasty little bugs. Oh... and I'll take some Vitamin C."

It worked. The pain and swelling subsided, biding him some time.

One week later, when Possum now had time to visit the dentist, he went to confirm his hypothesis. The dentist agreed. There was a fiery abscess, puddling with infection, secondary to a cracked tooth. The offending molar would need to come out. An appointment was made to return in one week for the procedure.

"It's $250 to get my tooth pulled," Possum lamented to me that night over chicken cordon bleu, which he was struggling to chew. "Plus, it's another $1800 to get an implant and a crown."

I could tell this news was weighing heavily on Possum. He hated spending money for healthcare, and especially hated spending money we didn't have. But, in this case, we had no choice. Right? Right.....unless you are Dr. Possible Possum.

He awoke the next morning with a plan.

A plan that involved his beloved tools. A plan that involved tools, tenacity and torture. A plan that completely freaked me out.

"I'm going to pull my own tooth," Possum stoically announced. "It will save us a lot of money."

"You can't do that," I protested. "What if.... what if.... what if...." I couldn't even think clearly enough to refute this silly idea. Any rationale thoughts I had were starting to be muffled by the auditory hallucinations of crunching bone pulsating against my ear drum.

A few nights later, after Otto and Andy left for a movie night with friends, Possum and I started watching Against a Crooked Sky (just kidding....neither of us remember which movie it was). After awhile, Possum got up and walked out of the house. Soon, he came back in from the garage tool warehouse and quietly bee-lined to the bathroom.  Just like the dentist who coyly slides his barbaric bayonets, chisels, forceps and syringes up the side of a patient's face so they won't faint see, Possum hid whatever he had from my view.

"What are you doing?" I yelled into the bathroom a few minutes later, not sure I wanted to know the answer.

"Just going to pull out my tooth," he said as nonchalantly as if he were ordering a pizza.

I sat. And listened. And waited. And waited. I didn't hear a peep. Not a single whimper.

"Honey..... are you ok?" I called out.

"Yef...doin' feen." he mumbled.

"Well....make a noise once in awhile.... moan or something," I requested.

The sound of the silence was deafening. I didn't like it.

I couldn't imagine pulling my own tooth. Without any painkiller. And certainly without squawking like an axed chicken. For me, the quietness was synonymous with Possum passed out on the floor, crimson streams of blood splattered on the walls and dripping from his hands; his fingers clutching a pair of pliers with a naughty chunk of enameled calcium balanced between the metal prongs.

Sorry to be so dramatic....but that is exactly what I envisioned. I had serious concerns about walking into the bathroom and finding my husband sprawled out onto the floor. Dead. From pain. I didn't dare go peek. I had contracted a bad case of the heebie jeebies. (I'm a nurse practitioner?????)

After 30 minutes of punctilious prying and twisting, Possum emerged, looking quite disheartened. I quickly surmised this was either from intense pain or something worse: failure.

"Well...?" I asked.

He had loosened the tooth, but couldn't get a strong enough hold to extract it. Who would have guessed that construction pliers don't have the right teeth to grip a tooth.

Although the attempt was unsuccessful, two things came out of this experience:

  1. I gained a new respect and attraction for my husband. It reinforced what a brave, manly, tough, resourceful hunk my man is. Once I settled down, and my shivers de-shivered and the blood washed away in my mind, I'm telling you...the idea of my man pulling out his own tooth....for us...was pretty darn sexy!!!!
  2. We discovered a tool the toolman doesn't have.... just in time for Father's Day.

The next day, I texted Mr. Fish at work, and thanked him for being willing to go through all that to save us money. I said, "You're awesome possum."

And that's how he got the name Possum.

And that's how I came to love him [and his dwindling tooth count] even more.

And that's how we are in the process of living happily ever after.

The End


Vocabulary Word of the Day
punctilious: extremely attentive, demanding, careful


Ms. Fish said...

After re-reading this, I noticed THREE references to bees. Haha. I guess that is because I just finished watching The Secret Life of Bees.

Great movie, by the way.

Missy B. said...

shut. up.


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