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June 18, 2019

Our Anniversary Story

      I’ve told this story to a few friends and family from time to time, but I’ve never written it down before. So, here goes.

      In about September 1982, give or take a month, I was living in Inglewood, California, and working for a commercial printer in the nearby town of Hawthorne in Los Angeles County. I had recently graduated from University of Redlands and was working as a typesetter and graphic designer. Somewhat underemployed, I was a frustrated writer and single guy with few friends and no career vision.

      At work one day, I began noticing a toothache from one of my lower molars. I did my best to ignore it but it got worse over the next several days. Our shop was next door to a busy dental office and the nurses were frequent visitors (our office was virtually all male and theirs was all female; but it was never me they were dropping by to see), so I stopped in to see them and the office manager summoned one of the dentists, a pudgy, curly-haired fellow. He took one quick look and said, “you need to see bookbinder.”
      By “bookbinder,” I learned he meant Richard J. Buchbinder, MD, DDS, who was an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. I was informed that my problem was a wisdom tooth that would require extraction.
      I made the appointment and stopped in at Buchbinder’s Hawthorne office at the appointed time. I was taken into an examination room by a petite, young woman with dark hair and eyes and a Spanish accent.
      Not too long after, Dr. Buchbinder came in, gruffly introduced himself, and began interrogating me about my medical history which, even at that young age, was colorful. After he’d finished, he stepped outside and I could hear him snarling at the young Spanish-accented girl, “You’re supposed to mark the chart when they have a heart condition!”
      "Sorry, Dr. Buchbinder," I heard her say through the examining room door. I felt a little embarrassed for her.
      Buchbinder ensured that I was taking antibiotics, gave me local anesthesia, and set to work extracting my wisdom tooth. It was a challenging extraction as the root proved to have a particularly difficult curve to it. I remember quite a bit of leaning, tugging, and yanking, but it finally came out. I remember leaving the office in somewhat of a dazed condition. I remember the elevator door closing on my wrist as I exited the building, causing my watchband to break. The watch, a cheap one, broke as it fell to the ground. When I went outside, I found my ’68 Karmann Ghia with a parking ticket on the windshield. In other words, it didn't seem like a very auspicious daybut things were about to get more interesting.
      Wisdom teeth come in sets. In December of that year, the same process repeated itself with my remaining lower wisdom tooth. During the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day of 1982, I returned to Dr. Buchbinder’s office where an associate of his, Dr. Lou Fendell, extracted my second tooth. This one was much easier—and the cute Spanish nurse was still there, I noticed, so we chatted a bit. That second extraction was on a Friday, and I was sent home with a prescription for Codeine. But by the following Monday, the site of the extraction was still quite painful. One of the nurses from the dentist’s office next door came by, and I griped about it.
      “Then you’ve got a dry socket,” she said. “Go back to Buchbinder.”
      A dry socket, I learned, occurs when the tissue doesn’t close properly over the jawbone. The act of inhaling or exhaling draws breath across the extraction site with a resulting sense of discomfort from the exposed bone. As I returned to Buchbinder’s office, he treated it with an anti-inflammatory substance packed into the wound and advised me to return twice more that week for repeated treatments.
      I did. And by Friday of that week, I left the office with a torn scrap of paper on which the Spanish nurse (actually, Ecuadorian, as I'd learned by then) had written her phone number.
      I called her shortly after New Year’s Day. It may have been that day, in fact; I don’t remember for sure. We made plans to get together at her house at dinnertime, together with her sister and brother who lived with her at the time. And so it went.
      Just five and a half months after that first date, on June 18, 1983, Marina del Lourdes Mosquera Santos and I were marred. And today, 36 years later, with three children, a son- and daughter-in-law, two granddaughters, and a third on the way (almost any day now), life has been good and the marriage has been the greatest chance meeting and the best decision of my life.
      That’s my anniversary story. Just wanted to share.

1 comment:

  1. Great story....Congratulations....they say what's meant to be is meant to be!!!