Sunday, July 31, 2022

DIY Dentistry

Of course I got a temporary crown the day before San Diego Comic-Con. Of course I did.

I knew it was a bit risky—what if I had a throbbing jaw on Thursday morning on the train? What if my jaw was swollen while I was at an outdoor party? But I wanted to get out the silver filling that was pulling away from the tooth. I probably got this silver filling the same year some of my editors were born, when I was a cub at Marvel. The filling had to go, and it was too big for a replacement, so it gets a kind of new hat for my tooth, a crown.

What could go wrong?

Besides everything, plus the possibility of con covid, and my hurt foot I’ve been getting physical therapy for.

I went back to work on Wednesday after the temporary crown was lodged in, and had no pain at all once the anesthesia wore off. I’d forgotten all about it by the time I was on the Amtrak, all masked up Thursday morning.

We’d decided against having a company booth on the floor, where more than 100,000 people would be wandering around. Masks and vaccines were required, but it’s one thing to run into the con for an hour or two and an entirely different thing to ask staff to be inside all day from Wednesday night to Sunday night. We organized some events outside, a few inside panels, and a nightly open-air drinks event. I tried to limit my walking—my Fitbit usually records over 20k steps a day at SDCC and I was trying to not set back my tendon recovery, as I had on my Guadalajara trip. Of course that went off the rails too, but not too horribly.

My usual con experience goes something like this: “Why am I here, I hate this” followed by “I love this, having the best time” followed by “This is awful” followed by “I wish I could go to cons all the time.” But this time I only had positive experiences as we all buzzed along with delight as we ran into old friends on hotel roofs and in courtyards. Later, many of us came down with covid (not me, for whatever reason), and I’m not sure any of us should have gone, but it’s still hard to walk back the sheer joy of being back in the mix.

My favorite moment was when I was sitting on a patio with pal Shannon, and I took a bite out of an energy bar I was carrying in my backpack. I forgot to only chew on one side, and the energy bar lifted my temporary crown out.

Shannon fetched some water and I washed the crown out in that and tried shoving it back in. It basically fit, but both of us were a little unclear on next steps. We agreed we’d seen emergency dental glue in pharmacies, but Shannon didn’t think I should walk to CVS with my injured foot. He kept offering to go fetch it, and I kept saying no, I could go on my way to a meeting I was attending with four writers and an editor, all with single-syllable first names.

“Okay, if you won’t let me get some, I’ll text someone else to bring you some,” Shannon said. Just then our friend Chip showed up, went for the water in front of me, and I pulled away my crown-washing water.

“No, no, I can handle it…” I told Shannon right as my phone rang. I glanced down—it was an old friend returning my call about the Eisner Awards. I’d sat with one of my writers being shut out at least 7 times over the years for my own titles, and he’d won his first Eisner for the single book from my friend’s company. I was trying to be gracious, but of course I was annoyed. Both the Flintstones book and Snagglepuss were brilliant.

“I’ll be right back,” I told Shannon as I stepped away to take the call. Other friends showed up while I was on the phone. Shannon was letting our pals know we were hanging out on the patio.

When I hung up and headed back to take my leave so I could go to the single-syllable meeting of minds, Shannon told me I couldn’t go.

“You can’t leave,” he said. “Denis Kitchen is bringing your dental glue.”

Denis is a legendary comics figure, and he was bringing me dental glue from CVS. This all went a step farther when Denis showed up.

“I sent my daughter,” he said.

It takes a village, I guess. Eventually, Denis’ daughter showed up with two versions of CVS dental glue, and I went off to have a good laugh with my one-syllable writers. Between this and belonging on the stage with Jim Lee, Denys Cowan, Greg Capullo, and Todd McFarlane, I guess I can’t pretend to just be stopping by comics any longer. This is it. This is my home, even though I meant to be a writer.

I couldn’t be a comics writer, of course. Too many syllables in my first name.

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