Teeth aren’t much fun to write about, but my Muse compels me to let my fingers do the talking today, and they seem to be talking about…teeth.

Listen to me:

Or simply read me:


1. My late Dad made this funny sound with his teeth after every meal, thfttt! It was annoying and funny and, ultimately, quite meaningful. Ask me to send you the story.

2. I used to write a column for the University of Alabama at Birmingham Dental School, called, TO TELL THE TOOTH (actually, the final name was THE WISDOM TOOTH, but I always liked this one better). This was way before you were conscious (in the early 1970′s). It was a Q&A  column in the Birmingham News. Since apparently no-one ever read it, I didn’t receive any Q’s, so I made up the questions myself, then conferred with dental faculty to provide answers.

3. Toothpicks are a way of life in my South, so they provide great spectator sport. My brother Tim and I used to love watching poofed-hair women at Red Lobster pick up toothpicks at the cash register and walk out making our Dad’s sound. Sometimes, to make gentle fun of them, we’d stick five or six picks between our teeth and make a great show of sauntering out, pretending to be the good ol’ boys we never were. thfttt!

4. Almost everyone lies to dental hygienists about how often flossing occurs. I like Jay Leno’s approach. Right before his teeth-cleansing session, he eats a couple of Oreo cookies. He would have enjoyed my and Tim’s company, had he been our buddy back in the day.

5. I used to be a Mad Man (a public relations practitioner) forty years ago. First thing I learned was how to show more teeth than I could possibly possess, when smiling at clients. We had to act nice all the time. I still wish that just once, I’d had the courage to stuff my mouth with Oreos before one of my client meetings.

6. The most excruciatingly painful fun I ever had was having my teeth worked on by dental students—it was cheap but time-consuming, since each step of the process had to be double-checked by dental faculty. Way back then, I lay there, a prisoner of the torture chair, mouth filled with gauze and cotton, observing the students’ gaffs. One self-confident student would carefully wash his hands, then poke them in his pocket, rattling change and keys, while he tried to figure out what to do next. Then, he’d wipe his nose, run fingers through hair, cough into his hands and jam them into my mouth. My gutteral protests were never heard…besides, I wanted to make no enemies, since I’d be seeing him and his fellow students several more times.

7. As a kid, the scariest thing I ever read about teeth was a passage in the book DIARY OF AN UNKNOWN AVIATOR. It described how the earliest parachutists (imagine being the first person ever to use a parachute!) learned their skills. It was important to be able to find the ripcord instinctively, once you leapt from the plane. Someone suggested that no matter how dark it is, no matter how stressed or disoriented you are, you can always find your mouth with your hand…thus jumpers would bite down on the ripcord, confident that at the right  time, they’d be able to grab the cord and make a safe landing. What they had not anticipated was the missing teeth that resulted.

8. The most honest observation I ever heard about teeth came from my then-early-teen daughter Margaret, after she and her friend Jessica returned from their first trip to the Alabama State Fair: “Dad, I’ve never seen so many toothless people!”

Assuming that you and I can only deal with so much tooth at one time, I’ll stop here and urge my Muse to take a nap. If she doesn’t obey, I’ll get her back by writing a story about how she takes her teeth out just before each naptime

(c) 2012 A.D. by Jim Reed


My little shop of memories awakens all the senses

of those browsers who are open to the experience.

Listen to me:

or Read On…

The FRAGRANCE of the books, the documents, the letters and diaries and postcards and posters and scratch-and-sniff paper blends with the SMELL of seasoned wood, old Bakelite, hot Christmas lights, ancient tobacco-soaked bindings…

The remembered TASTE of metallic coins and antique Pez and fresh MoonPies and acrid fingertips licked in order to turn to the next chapter mixes it up with cane sugar memories…

The crackling SOUND of old envelopes being opened and volumes sliding along dusty shelves and floors creaking beneath the soles of quiet booklovers and the clicketyclack of keyboard keys researching the genealogies of antiquarian tomes and the music from the old Victrola scratching its way into your vinyl memoirs is everchanging in this eclectic and confusing time capsule…

The SIGHT of artifacts overlapping 500 years of generations and leather leaning against vellum leaning against pulp paper leaning against anguished illustrations leaning against conflicting, ever-recycled fads and fashions and styles astounds and entertains the imaginations…

The TOUCH remembers everything…what your tongue and fingers remember from childhood–back when you tasted and touched all within reach, storing the information for later…

A young couple drifts through the store, smiling at that, thumbing through this, ingesting first one thing, then another. The woman sneaks away from her partner and leans over the counter with a conspiratorial smile, asking, “What music is that?” playing through the speakers. I smile back, because I know what has happened, “The score from the film SOMEWHERE IN TIME.” She nods knowingly and almost floats over to her companion and hugs him tight.

This music has that effect on people. John Barry’s soundtrack is so romantically evocative and sad and nostalgic that those in the know  always recognize it.

As a matter of fact, every item in the store meets this SOMEWHERE IN TIME criterion.

If you’re alive and alert, each object will gently jolt you, guiding you to the Past or the Future or a parallel Present. 

Your bliss awaits you

(c) Jim Reed 2012 A.D.

Step aboard the Time Machine and travel with me: 



Listen to Jim: or read on…


What’s missing from this picture?


As children of the kudzu, we used to make up our own games, spending hours entertaining ourselves, laughing, jostling, snarling, giggling…just plain having fun at no-one’s expense.


On a good day, when I connect with someone else who is ready to take laughter seriously, I still make my own fun.


For instance, I look at signs along the way to someplace else.


Better still, I look for what’s missing in signs along the way, trying to guess what the real message is.


Here’s one sign:



This one took a minute…what is a family lar?

Ummm…oh, I see–it’s a FAMILY DOLLAR STORE sign that’s missing letters.


What else?



Hmmm…I’m afraid to guess because it seems a bit medical-rehabby. But, oh, I get it. It’s CAMPUS HOUSE, some kind of religious facility with alphabetus interruptus syndrome.


Here’s another:



After a while, I figured it to be ANNA’S LINENS with besmirched letter.


There used to be a store chain called DOLLAR TREE, which I always read wrong. That’s because the sign was set up this way: 1 DOLLAR TREE. In the grand tradition of Free Enterprise, it always popped into my head as I-DOLLA-TREE (IDOLATRY), or the worship of merchandise that stores like that carry.


And here’s one that still throws me, usually printed on the side of juice containers:



Which causes me to sit and stare until I find the rest of the statement, “made from concentrate.”


So it goes.


You can make up your own games. Send me the IGNS OF THE TIMES that you spot along the way


(c) 2012 A.D. by Jim Reed



The passe past posse disremembers the future

Listen to Jim:

or reed on…

When it comes to being respectably respectful of the concept of Time, we multitudes are subdivided into a dizzying array of thought-camps (or posses), herewith (below) being a few:

1. The past is passé posse: 

The past is passé and deserves a quick brush-off so that we can relish the present and brag about how much better the future will be because We are here and ready to take over.

2. The past was better posse:

Everything good has already happened and the future is going to hell because it’s being commandeered by those younger whippersnappers.

3. The future will be better posse:

We must look to the future, since the past and Right Now are so screwed up. We will be saved by a Sacred Happening or by Scientific Progress or by right-minded leaders (benevolent dictators). 

4. Everything was always bad and the future will be, too, posse:

People are no damned good and they’re getting worse.

5. This is the best of all possible worlds posse:

“This is the best of all possible worlds.”—Candide



(There’s Good everywhere and all you have to do is focus on that precept and hold on for dear life.)



6. The Yin and Yang will prevail posse.

There will be good times, there will be bad times.

These are good and bad times.

There were good times and there were bad times.

7. The enemy is Us posse:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”—Walt Kelly (Wherever we go, there we are.)

8. We can brainwash the world posse:

“The dice of the gods are always loaded.”—Emerson (from a Greek proverb)

(Just put us in charge and we will “educate” everyone to think Our way, thus guaranteeing prosperity and peace for all.)

9. Beware the Posses posse:

“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” —Brian Schell (Be wary of anyone with The Answer.)

“Anyone who says differently is selling something.” — Westley (If it seems too good to be true, it is.)

I’ve doubtless missed a few categories, but the exercise is remarkably repetitive through the

generations—each “aha!” moment is, upon examination, fraught with traps and dead-ends and bad punchlines. What is the real answer? How will we learn to respect the past, the present and the future simultaneously? Will we ever?

Perhaps if the Elders and the Present Youth and the Descendants would join hands and work together, we would once and for all see past/present/future as one and the same. We’re on the same ship at the same time in the same galaxy, and the sooner we stop one-upmanshipping one another and just consider life to be one big fat family reunion, the sooner we’ll be able to take a deep breath and get on with the business of Being a better world 

(c) 2012 A.D. by Jim Reed