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Friday, July 13, 2012
Teeth Cleaning and Soul Searching
I like going to my dentist.
Maybe that's because I haven't got as many teeth left in my mouth for him and his staff to hurt.
That's a joke, son. That there what I just said isn't true. It's hyperbole. I have as full a set of teeth as any other country-raised boy who came along in the backward South before modern preventive dentistry gained its ascendancy.
What I'm trying to get around to saying is that my dentist and the hygienist who works on cleaning my teeth are relaxing people. They soothe. They coo. They're good at making you melt into that chair they tilt you in to get a good hold on your jaw so they can dig and scrape and grind around your bones.
But none of that is what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about the drive I take to get to my dentist's office.
My dentist is on Carrollton Avenue, way up by the Mississippi River where Carrollton meets Saint Charles Avenue. I call it the mouth of Carrollton Avenue, like you would call someplace the mouth of a river.
Now, I could take Esplanade Avenue to Carrollton and turn left to get to my dentist. The same with Orleans Avenue or Tulane Avenue. I could even take the circuitous Claiborne Avenue to Carrollton. All these routes would lead me right to my doctor's door.
The thing is I don't like Carrollton Avenue early in the morning. It's full of people rushing off to work like a bunch of bees in a sunflower field. Too hectic, heedless, and mindless.
On the other hand, I could take Saint Charles Avenue to Carrollton, but Saint Charles is a way-too-overrated street below the universities. It's where old New Orleans money just keeps getting older and older, and the Coty translucent powder lays crackling in the heat and damp. Nowadays there are not too many people going anywhere on Saint Charles for any reason other than to look at the outsides of the houses.
So I always end up taking Prytania Street. It's a little out of the way, but I like it. I don't have a logistical reason. I've never spent much time trying to figure it out. But it's a nice street. It's a pretty street, too, with it's grand houses. It's one of the few remaining two-way streets in New Orleans. You can't drive too fast, and the other drivers won't let you drive too slow.
I guess that kind of explains my liking for it. It's not too much of this. It's not too little of that. It's just right.
I take Prytania to Napoleon Avenue. There I take a right for one block then turn left onto Saint Charles Avenue. Why Saint Charles? Because from here on out to the mouth of Carrollton Avenue, Saint Charles undergoes a change in attitude. This area is near to Loyola and Tulane Universities.
What you begin to see in this neighborhood are college students out walking, jogging, waiting for streetcars. Sure, they're full of themselves. They think they're all that when they're really just thick and kind of dumb. But they're young and pretty. They dress up the landscape. And that's nice. Besides, life will probably rough them up a bit in the years to come, rubbing off the rough edges and softening their souls. A fair trade for the diminution of youthful vitality.
Come to think of it, those kids are a pretty nice reward for leaving home a little sooner than I should have to and taking the more out-of-the-way road to my final destination.