After getting the first round of three treatments to fix my 8 cavities I had almost forgotten to show my dentist my toothpaste on the way out. I proudly presented it him, only to receive an “ah see, here’s your problem,” in return. What could be my problem I wondered, everyone on that box was so damn happy, thus I should be too. “This is not tooth paste, this is tooth whitening cream.” I was as dumbstruck as I had been before. “What?” I murmured out again, this dentist must’ve thought I was the worst English teacher in the world, only capable of monosyllabic responses. “This is a bottle to whiten your teeth, this is not toothpaste. There is no fluoride; it doesn’t clean your teeth.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. That would mean I hadn’t properly brushed my teeth in 3 months! No wonder I have 8 friggin cavities! Who cares how little candy I ate, kim chee was destroying my teeth! And at the same time they had been getting whiter, so cosmetically they even looked decent!
Still in shock I had the dentist write down the word toothpaste in Korean. I then went to a pharmacy on the way home, showed him the paper, did the requisite acting to overcome language issues, and bought whatever bottle he gave me. I did the whole process again at another place just to be certain. And a third for good measure in the 10 minute walk back to my house (Koreans sure do like their pharmacies). For all my thoughts about how easy life had been in Korea and how well I had adjusted, I couldn’t even complete a simple task like making sure I came home with toothpaste instead of whitening cream. At least I had gone to the dentist now, before my teeth started falling out in at school in front of the kids!
I blame Ronald Reagan , somewhat in jest but not really for my situation, because his policies supporting the Muhajideen in Afghanistan in opposition to the Soviet Union invasion spawned a radical Islamist network that eventually turned its head on its former backers, and sets its sights on attacking the infidel West. Without the radicalization of millions of young Muslim youth, which occurred for numerous other reasons as well (though the Afghanistan situation hardened the movement and gave them battle experience, helping use this prestige to indoctrinate the next generation of fighters), some young Britons would have been unlikely to possess the desire to try to take down 7 passenger aircrafts, or at least the creative thinking and technical know-how to do it. In turn we would all still be able to bring liquids over 3 oz on planes, and my Costco toothpaste would have made it safely to South Korea with me. In turn my foolish attempts to buy replacement supplies without outside help would not have resulted in me using tooth whitening cream for 3 months as a poor toothpaste substitute. Thus Ronald Reagan, you gave me cavities. 8 to be exact.