Dentistry, summer and fat


“Faint praise coming from you” my self-sim seems to think.

I have lost count of how many weeks I have gone with a loose tooth. It was one of the three ceramic teeth and was fastened on the root of the original with a thin metal bar. This is, I believe, the third time it has been broken. Hopefully it will be a while till next time. Perhaps that depends on my computer shopping habits, however.

I have written in the past about this peculiar pattern. At first I thought the rule was “Every time you buy a computer, God kills a tooth.” (Patterned after the infamous “God kills a kitten” meme, which I am sure Google can explain to anyone who may have been spared it until now.) Later experience showed that I could buy desktop computers without breaking teeth, so I amended it to “Every time you buy a laptop, God kills a tooth.” This time, however, the tooth broke while I still considered buying a laptop for a friend. Actually in part I did this to test whether the cosmic law only reacted to buying for myself or whether it was the objective act of buying a laptop that invoked it. Instead I found that it was the decision to buy. Perhaps at some future point, I will break teeth even by looking at a laptop to covet it?

In any case, I got it fixed at a sufferable cost, and in time before the summer vacation. (Not mine, I don’t have vacation in summer, but presumably the dentists have. Summer vacation is almost sacred up here in Norway, where the summer is short but intense, with warm bright nights that don’t invite to get up early next morning for a long day of hard work.) The dentist’s equipment had broken down today but he borrowed that of a colleague; they are a small team of dentists working together and sharing office services. Despite the unfamiliar workplace he seems to have done a good job.

On my way back to work, I noticed how hot the day had become. It was by now rather late in the workday, around 15 (3PM) and the heat in the city felt almost tropical compared to the cool days of the past couple weeks. I have thoroughly enjoyed the cloudy weather with occasional showers, since I am not really made for heat. The newspaper claims that the heat will last for a week or more. I would not be surprised, the south coast of Norway is a naturally sunny place all year long with only scattered rainy days. No wonder people from all over the country come to relax on the beaches here.

One recurring concern when the word “beach” comes up is the extra pounds from the dark season. They just don’t seem willing to leave in order to render you good-looking in swimwear. Of course, this is hardly a concern for me, since I get violently ill if I eat more than a few grams of fat. And even were it not so, I have long since given up on swimwear. Not so much because of the skin disease that makes much of my body look like that of a toad, but mostly because melanoma runs in my family. I can only hope that I realized this soon enough – I have mostly stayed out of the sun since I was around 20 – but I certainly don’t want to run any risks now. Life is short enough as is.

Fat is not known to make life any longer, at least in our time when there is an excess of it. And that was the thing I noticed on my way back from the dentist: Norwegians really are growing fatter. Norwegians and Sims. One of the most eye-catching changes in The Sims 3 compared to the earlier versions is the wider range of body shapes, from fat to skinny to muscular. A goodly number of the inhabitants of the imaginary town are shaped like couch potatoes, and unfortunately so are also those in the real town where I work. It used to be that Norwegians were still lean and active compared to our American cousins. Well, they are still ahead of us in sheer obesity, but not in overweight.

To make this clear, the border between “normal” and overweight is set pretty low. Unnaturally low, I believe, as studies show that mortality is actually slightly lower in the barely overweight group than in the “normal” group, which includes some decidedly skinny people. I am not sure who set up those categories. They should probably have been set a little higher. But in any case, technically obesity is a different group from overweight, and at this point the health cost is obvious. It is hard for the obese to move around efficiently, and their hearts are hard pressed to keep the blood flowing through the bloated body. Hypertension and diabetes are almost unavoidable if enough years pass in such a state.

Norwegians have become overweight to the same degree as Americans – about two in three is now above that artificial line – but we have far less outright obesity. I am afraid this is only a matter of time, though. Looking around today, I saw a lot of fat. There is definitely more of it than there used to be when I was young. Unless someone finds a miracle cure, we will have the same wave of chronic lifestyle diseases as our American cousins, with all the cost and suffering involved.

After work I went home and trotted out the manual lawnmower again. As the voices in my head remarked: “I am become death, the destroyer of grass.” (Thank you, Oppenheimer.) But better it than me. I can do without a tooth for a few weeks, but not a heart.