Saturday, October 10, 2009


A couple of years ago I was at my college campus for homecoming. I went to the local dive bar with some friends, and, our school being a small one, we knew a lot of other people at said dive bar and eventually separated. I fell in comfortably at an outdoor picnic table where, basically, I just got comfortable sitting and didn't feel like getting up.

Therefore eventually I feel as if there were not many people, if even one person, around this table whom I knew. But I am not shy, and I didn't care, and again, I didn't feel like getting up, so I stayed put.

Well there was a particular gentleman of note near this table who got to talking about flossing. I would not be surprised if I introduced the topic, as I am an avid flosser (I love it when I go to the dentist and after a look around in my mouth they say, with genuine enthusiasm, measuredly to make sure I catch every word, "we can really tell that you take care of your teeth"), but once this guy got hold of the topic I let him run with it (interjecting with my questions, of course, as I am an equally avid question asker).

Now I know what you're thinking. "He was wasted." I'm not so sure. I'm sure he had had a drink or two, but I really think this guy's alcohol was acting more as inertia for expelling from him a hygienic passion that was already, shall we say, placing him in an inebriated state of excitement for the issue. The alcohol was just a little push to give him social permission to discuss something that he really cared a great deal about, but didn't care to admit during sober hours. People would understandably look at him and think, "Oh, ha ha, look at him, he's so drunk he's talking about floss and thinking it's interesting!" This guy, however, I could tell, loved to floss. In fact I think that over time it was his zeal, as opposed to my apathy for full-press schmoozing, that kept me in my seat. I am one who will read just about anything as long as it is written well. You write a poorly written book about Celine, I'll pass. You write an amazingly eloquent novel about beetles, I'm there. You get a guy demonstrating proper flossing techniques with the enthusiasm of a child on Christmas, I am also there.

I think I was amused my Mr. Floss, but also saw a piece of myself in him. I get really excited about things, and people love me for my ebullience, I'm aware of this. But there are few times where I can really hold people's attention about something that they find downright boring, even if I find it truly interesting. For instance, the intense level of cuteness that is my feline. Or The Babysitters' Club (okay, to be fair, I have a few friends, notably Kristen, who can banter with me for a while on this, and even my brother Patrick has a favorite line from the movie: "What are you allergic to?" "Summer!"). Point being, I wanted to be there for this guy. Depending on his degree of inebriation, he may not have remembered the next day that he was heard, but it didn't matter. I thought, this guy is a closet dental nerd, he is in his first year of dental school and he is at this bar with his former frat brothers, covering up how much he truly loves the profession with beer and immature talk because he knows no one will listen to what he truly cared about.

Well I wanted to listen. For one, he was funny. Two, he taught me some things concerning the exact proper method of flossing. I had a pretty good handle on the practice, but was missing some important details. And finally, there was communion. I gave myself as an audience, and a captive one at that, and two detail-oriented, zealot freaks were at peace for an hour at a dive bar on a homecoming weekend in the mixed-up years of their whirlwind twenties.

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