String Tied to a Door Knob


“See this here string?” Manuel said. “This is how to pull out a loose tooth.”

One day my cousin Manuel showed me how to pull a loose tooth. He was groaning in pain as he pointed at one of his lower front teeth.

“This one,” he said, “hurts like heck and it’s loose. Got to pull it out.” His face showed some swelling around his lower lip.

We were just poor kids growing up in the barrio. He was eight and I was five. It was a given that older kids had more smarts than younger kids. He was only three years older than me but the rule is the rule.

“Go get a string from your Mom’s sewing room,” he commanded.

“What for?” I asked.

“Don’t question. Just do it.” His tone became more authoritative. He was bigger and stronger than me. I complied.

“Okay,” I managed to utter as I ran upstairs to my mother’s sewing room. “Let’s see, bobbins, thimbles, sewing needles, where are the spools of thread…” I was talking to myself.

“Hurry…” Manuel yelled.

I slid down the stair rail and leaped to where Manuel stood, close to the front door, landing perfectly on my feet. I handed him a spool of white nylon thread. Grabbing the spool from my hand, he pulled an arm’s length of string, and tied one end of it to the door knob. Slowly he tied the other end around his loose tooth.

Everything went slow motion – surreal – starting with Manuel slamming the front door shut, his head following the closing door, his chin pulled forward by the taut string extending farther than the rest of his face, culminating in a tooth flying in the air with some blood splattering. I thought I heard Manuel scream obscenities.

“Lord help me,” I managed to utter as I swallowed hard. “If this is the way to pull a loose tooth, I’d have to keep all mine – firm or loose.” You see, I am allergic to pain.

That was ancient history.

Today we don’t have to improvise and treat our dental needs with such primitive ways. We can go to highly specialized dental treatment places like and expect nothing less than the best, most modern dental treatment approaches. If you lose a tooth you can have it replaced, or if you lose all your teeth and want dentures, they can accommodate you as well.

My cousin Manuel and I both wear dentures now. I may have to look into this dental group for better fitting dentures.