I have always enjoyed the interpersonal relationships I had with many of the men for whom I provided medical care. My Dad (Pop) was a great story-teller, and I used to listen to his stories for hours at a time. I have recounted some of them on this blog. Growing up and later having a medical practice in a relatively rural area afforded me access to many men who enjoyed hearing and telling interesting life stories. I tried my best to not have any patients waiting in my office to see me while I was encouraging patients ahead of them to tell stories unrelated to their medical issues. Certainly not all of my story telling friends were patients, but friends I had met along the way who were not looking for a doctor. Because most of the hours of each day were spent either in the hospital or in my office, most of my accounts come from those settings.
I had done a surgical procedure on a gentleman who was retired from a supervisory job at the local oil refinery, and who was a well-known fisherman. He had spent many years fishing the local lakes and rivers during his leisure time while employed, and now in retirement he was able to fish 3 or 4 times a week. During the office visits he made in his surgical recovery period I had the opportunity to ask him about any previous or current “fish stories.” Probably the funniest fishing story I ever heard came during one of those post-op visits.
“James” had a regular fishing partner named “Roy” with whom he fished every Saturday morning for years. James owned the flat bottom aluminum boat with a 25 horse power motor in which the two of them fished. They would choose the lake or river to fish during the week, and by 8 AM on Saturday morning they would be at their favorite fishing spot for that particular body of water.
James said “ole Roy” had a habit when they arrived at their usual spot of taking out his upper false teeth plate and placing it on the metal seat between them. He said he did that to “rest his mouth.” He would then proceed to fish for an hour or so until there was a lull in activity. At that point he would say, “I guess it’s time to have a snack” and would reach around to get his upper plate; secure it in place and proceed to eat a candy bar, apple or whatever snack he had brought. James said he had watched Roy go through that routine “for years” when he decided one morning to pull a prank on him.
As they reached their designated spot Roy took out his plate as usual and placed it on the seat. When he turned back around to start fishing James took out his own upper plate, placed it on the seat and put Roy’s dentures in his shirt pocket. They fished for a couple of hours until Roy said, “Let’s have our snack. The fish don’t seem to be biting right now.” Roy took the plate which he did not recognize was not his own and placed it in his mouth. James said Roy rolled it around 2 or 3 times and even tried with his index finger to get the plate properly seated, all to no avail. Much to James’ chagrin he watched as Roy took the plate out saying, “My dentist never has gotten these teeth to fit right”, and sailed the plate out into the lake. James said as he saw his own dentures sink, he said to Roy, “I guess we go to the same dentist, because these teeth have never fit me right either”, while throwing the plate in his pocket into about the same area of the lake! They both had a good laugh about their sorry fitting teeth and were glad to finally do something about it.
James still chuckled about the expensive lesson he learned that morning and admitted it took him several years before he had the courage to tell Roy what he had done. He said it didn’t matter to Roy because he had already made up his mind to get rid of those teeth. James said, “I wish I had known that sooner, I would have even thrown them for him and saved myself a whole lot of money!”