Dental InstrumentsI’m the one at the upper left-hand end, and that gives me a good view of the rest of the team. I heard on the grapevine that I’m lucky to still be here. Having arrived a bit later than the others – the team was already established – I’ve always felt a bit of an outsider.

We’ve lost track of how long we’ve been together. Ages. Since … I don’t know… well over half a century. Here, at the cutting edge, you might say, it’s not all been smooth sailing. There have been rough times, and not everyone has made it through. There have been disappearances and  … adjustments. Blame it on outside interventions. We felt the loss. But it was more the way they went that upset the rest of us. It seemed wrong; we felt abused. And it took us time to return to our usual lifestyle. But we did; needs must.

Look, um, er, we don’t really like to talk about those things – I shouldn’t really be telling you this, but hey, live dangerously. So a little bit about us. We’re family. We’re always together, and we’ve developed what the Danish people call hygge. Which is not easy to say, nor easy to translate. Some say cosy, but it’s more nuanced than that. The German people have a word, gemütlichkeit, which sounds awful, and yet doesn’t capture it either. Let’s see. If it wasn’t so moist in here, we’d be lighting candles. We’d cosy up to each other in the dark, slowly working our way through a packet of chocolate digestives … But if we do need to talk then most likely it’ll be in hushed tones about the old times, about when we’ve had to bite the bullet or chew the fat. Yeah, we have tender feelings for each other because we’ve shared so many meals together. Bonding? We’ve bonded all right; we’re all in this together.

But age takes its toll. I hope the others aren’t listening, because this is a taboo subject, and we know when to keep our mouth shut. But things happen. Painful things, aching things, sharp things … Sometimes it’s a dull ache, that won’t go away, and then everyone goes quiet, thinking their own thoughts and that leaves us in a vulnerable position. Action is taken and then it’s the bright lights, the high pitched whine, the pink water, the chemical taste. It’s so intrusive – all this pricking and prodding – where’s the hygge in that? We just want to be left alone, but we’re forced to suffer these invasions into our private space. These outsiders never respect or understand the social customs and the resulting hygge of our oral world. No way. We don’t need to spell it out to each other. We grin and bear it; it’s the boat that mustn’t be rocked, the elephant in the room. So in our hyggelig gloom, we swallow those memories, ignore the inevitable decay that takes place – is taking place …. Who knows what’s coming next. When we first arrived, we thought we were as sharp as diamonds. But now we have come to see ourselves more like well-weathered rocks, flaking and breaking on a whim. Deep down at our roots we know what’s happening, but we’re not going to bring it up.

And that’s how we’ve lost our comrades. It’s just horrible to think about it. Ground to dust, washed away in a stream of water, never seen again. And then replaced with cold, inert lumps of metal, pretending to be like us. But how could they be that? There’s no empathy, no conversation. They just do not and cannot get it. But we’re tolerant, we put up with them. Because we work as a team we have to accept these substitutes … Though we never talk about that either.

So we keep cheerful, look forward to special occasions, when there are treats to be enjoyed: the crunch of celery, the succulence of the sirloin, the subtle severance of a slice of smoked salmon. I bet that got you salivating! And what could be more delightful than having this all washed down with a glass of champagne. Cheers. Skål. Ah, these good old hygge times …

© 2016 Peter Young


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