The Unauthorized Biography of Rosco P. Coltrane

When it's my moment in the sun, I won't forget that I am blessed, but every hero walks alone, thinking of more things to confess

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Location: Owensboro, Kentucky, United States


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Down To The Roots

A week ago, I had to have a root canal done. It hurt. It wasn't as bad as people have made it out to be. I am still a bit sore, but I am doing alright. They have given me penicillin for any infection. When I went to my pharmacist, who is a good friend of mine, he said they were giving me an old school penicillin treatment. I told him that I had never felt more like a soldier in World War 2 with a bad case of the clap.

Anyway, I was pretty nervous right before they gave me the root canal. In fact, I was shaking. I told the dentist and the hygienist that I was positive they were extremely great people, but the only dentist I have ever had have been my dad's old motorcycle buddy and a neighbor of mine. Which, I know by the way I worded that, it sounds like totally unqualified people have been handling my dentistry needs over my life, but both were board certified dentists.

But as I was opening up wide, listening to Bob Seger on the headphones they gave me, and being numbed up, I began to think about what I said. I began to think about old Dr. Cole, my dad's motorcycle buddy.

He wore glasses and always seemed to me slumped a bit. In fact, now that I try to remember him in my mind's eye, he almost seems like a cartoon character. He had a mustache that was gray and long. He was bald, but the hair that circled his bald head seemed to be a bit long too. Maybe I am mistaken, but it always seemed like he wore a hat. Not a ball cap, but a cat hat, as my dad calls them. He lived out in the country, near the parkway. He had cut a hole in his fence so that he could jump on the parkway and head towards town. I am sure it was illegal almost as sure as I am that Gene didn't really care.

I remember going to the Mid-Town center every 6 months and getting my teeth cleaned and checked. His waiting room had Gideon's Storybook Bibles and motorcycle magazines that weren't the same kind of motorcycle magazines my dad got. He would always give the kids a coupon for a free meal at Hardee's.

He was my first dentist, and probably the reason why I don't loathe dentists to this day. I have always heard that dentists are the most feared people in the United States, and that they are somewhat depressed people because most people fear them so much. But Dr. Cole was different.

He was my dad's motorcycle buddy way before I thought of him as a dentist. In all honesty, I do remember his dentist office and the way it was set up, but I remember him sitting around drinking coffee at Jerry's more than anything.

He used to always call my dad on Saturday nights. I would pick up the phone and he would say, "Helllloooooo Josh, is your dad there?" His voice was low and slow. It sounded like Jack Nicholson except from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. My dad and Dr. Cole, Gene, would usually ride out to Windy Hollow for breakfast on Sundays.

It is funny, my dad is a hardcore Harley Davidson man. Hardcore. But Gene rode a BMW. And I don't think my dad ever thought anything about it. Oh, I am sure he gently ribbed him about his German motorcycle, but Gene always had my father's respect. I didn't realize it until I began to think about a week ago, sitting in the dentist chair, but my dad had a lot of respect for him. He cared about him a great deal. And I began to wonder if Gene helped to fill a fatherly role for my father. My grandfather died a few months before I was born, so someone had to fill that coid for my father, and I think Gene might have done that.

We all need those people that we can bounce ideas off of, and usually those ideas bounce back better. And I began to wonder if Gene used to do that with my dad. I have never seemed to link of my father as a person that needs guidance and wisdom from someone older, but I am sure he has many times. Often times, we idolize and make our parents into superheroes. That is why many people seem to take it so hard when their parents can't live up to those superhero expectations.

Gene has been gone for a while now. Not exactly sure how long, but at least ten years. The last time I was driving up the parkway, I looked at his old house sitting their East of the parkway. The rut that was worn into the ground has grown up with weeds from the year since a BMW used to cut through.

He was a character, one of those people that enter our lives and fill them up with stories that we can never really forget. Those stories that we pull out and dust off every so often.

And as the dentist was finishing my root canal, he began to tell me about crowns. He talked about gold crowns are still the best. I began to laugh a very weird laugh, my face still mostly numbed, thinking about Dr. Cole.

My dad told me a story once that Gene lost a crown one time and accidentally swallowed it. Gene, being a man raised in Eastern Kentucky during the depression, was not a man that would let something valuable go to waste. So every morning, he would take his paper and coffee out beside the barn. It took a few mornings, but he got that gold crown back.

My dentist asked, "Everything okay? What's so funny?"

I replied, "Nuhfun."


Blogger Nancy said...

Great story! However I could have done without the visual of him "retrieving" his gold crown! ick!

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's not joan jett or deep purple but here's a little christmas music for you:

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:48 PM  

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