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by Eric Miller

Sure, I know that first impressions can be misleading, but I’m an impulsive guy. If you’re impulsive, you make quick decisions. So, when I met Gus for the first time, I jumped to what I thought was an obvious conclusion. I think you would have done the same thing under the circumstances.

Picture this. A guy comes rumbling toward you on an imposing motorcycle as a sonic boom reverberates through the air. The cycle screeches to a skidding stop right in front of you. The rider, wearing a silver studded, black leather jacket dismounts like an old cowboy, walks toward you bowlegged, takes off his helmet, exposing long golden hair brushed back into a cute duck’s derriere, rips off his scarf and twirls it in the air like a lasso, snakes it around your neck, sticks out his hand to shake yours, and gives you a big, wide, ear to ear smile.

It was impossible not to jump to judgment and believe that this cowboy was not only a wild, whacko yahoo, but that he had wall to wall rotten teeth, with crescent shaped black cavities on each side of each tooth. And it was  impossible to avoid the butterfly net of revulsion that fell over my head and carried me away to a private place where I could expel the horror churning in the depths of my gut.

“My name is Gus Spiddor,” he said. “I do believe your face is whiter than most men’s teeth. Are you feeling poorly?”

“About as poorly as your decayed teeth must be feeling to you?," I gasped.

“My teeth don’t feel poorly,” he replied.

“Well, they sure look real bad,” I noted.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to rinse the bugs out before I dismounted.”

“The bugs?,” I said, although my words were drowned out by another rush of gastric horror in search of escape.

“By golly, now I know why you look so sick. My teeth must look like they have a series of mass graves of little black bugs stacked up one upon another.”

“So, what brings you to the parking lot of the university’s august school of dental medicine?”

“Classes start today.”

“You’ve matriculated?”

“That I have. And you?”

“That I have?, I parroted”

“Well, what do you say we matriculate together?”

“Depends on what your definition of matriculate is.”

Well, he knew the definition precisely. We shook hands and walked into the school side by side. Four years later, we walked out together, side by side, to attend our graduation ceremonies. When we got there, we were no longer side by side. Bugsy, as I called him, was at the front of the line, the valedictorian of the class.

It has always bugged me how I jumped to judgment that day. You’d think I would have learned my lesson, but alas, I haven’t. I guess that’s why I had so many dental patients who bugged me. “The Big Molar in the Sky” was sticking it to me.