Failure to sleep was eye-opening

This week?s topic: failure.

Thomas Alva Edison is credited as saying, ?We now know a thousand ways not to build a light bulb.?

At first, this statement seems to be a very deep, insightful and pithy rejection to the idea of failure. That was the way I had always taken it, until I got to thinking about that quote the other day after I had failed to wake up on time.

When a person sits by himself or herself for a long period of time trying to do one small, tedious task (i.e. creating a light bulb), he or she will begin talking to himself or herself until he or she thinks up a statement that he or she thinks is incredibly brilliant, and will then go around exclaiming it so everyone will know what a genius he or she is. (I usually experience this in the bathroom.)

What can we learn from the above statement? And I mean the statement before the crass bathroom statement.

We can learn that the rules of the English language are incredibly annoying when it comes to trying to correctly refer to an unspecified person singularly.

A much less annoying, yet incorrect, sentence would be, ?When people sit by themselves for a long period of time trying to do one small, tedious task, they will begin talking to themselves until they think up a statement that they think is incredibly brilliant, and will then go around exclaiming it so everyone will know what a genius they are.?

Why, when one is attempting to refer to nobody in particular in a singular sense, must he or she say ?him or her? instead of ?they?? The answer is: I don?t know. But as an English major, I am bound by law to abide by it.

(I have similar feelings about the rule about ?who? or ?whom.?)

I had a major failure two weeks ago, when I wasn?t able to fall asleep to get my wisdom teeth removed.

I did everything I was told to do: I didn?t eat for a full 12 hours prior to the event (?event? is to ?wisdom teeth removal? as ?fun? is to ?fire ants in your shorts?) and I took my first sedative pill an hour before going in.

The sedative, I assumed, should have had me in a fairly loopy stage when I arrived at the dental office at 7 a.m. However, I was feeling pretty normal. Shortly after arriving, my dental assistant gave me some sort of powder under my tongue.

?This is going to taste bitter,? she said.

For a second I was worried. Usually, they say, ?You may experience some discomfort,? as if there is hope that you may not actually be discomforted. However, the assistant said ?this IS,? and she wasn?t lying.

Then she asked, ?Is cherry Lifesaver OK?? and then stuck half of one under my tongue as well.

An hour went by, and I spent my time waiting to fall asleep by listening to the guy in the unit over complaining about sharp tooth pain (as it turns out, he was just being a wuss and was experiencing normal nerve activities) and tapping my foot to the tempo of my heart monitor.

Once a musician, always a musician.

I still hadn?t fallen asleep, so I got another dose of bitter powder and?I?m still upset about this?only a fourth of a cherry Lifesaver.

Three sedative doses. No sleepiness.

I think they must have finally gotten irritated with me, because before I knew it my doctor pounced on me and started stabbing my gums and the roof of my mouth.

I watched the whole procedure, even though the doctor told my mom?and I remember this moment quite clearly?that he would be surprised if I remembered anything.

Afterward, they loaded me into a wheelchair (I remember grabbing my glasses off of the counter) and rolled me up to the front. Then everyone left me unattended in the wheelchair while severely drugged, which turned about to be a bad idea.

Not so much for my own safety, but more for my dignity.

I distinctly remember scooting myself around, saying ?I?m going to be late for my bridge club? and then threatening to roll myself down the stairs.

In closing, we all experience failure many times in our lives. I think Robert Frost summed it up best in his famous poem, ?The Road not Taken? when he said: ?Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I? / I took the one less traveled by. / Now, where the heck am I??

Then again, maybe he didn?t say that. Whom cares?

* * *

UFO: George Washington?s dentures were made by Dr. John Greenwood.

Don?t ask why.

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