American Teeth

Beware of Nathan Pensky’s star-spangled chompers.

I’m an American man, and I have magnificent teeth.

They are sharp and straight and perfectly aligned. Wide, flat incisors in the front for severing fibers. Pointed cuspids at the sides for tearing away tissue. Jagged molars in the back for grinding cartilage and ligament. They gleam like chrome. They can crush anything.

I can crack unshelled hazelnuts like you’d bite into a caramel. I once reduced a pine cone to sawdust in 12 seconds. Neighborhood children sometimes bring over old junk they find, just so they can watch me tear through it, which I do with very little prompting.

Some people might be sheepish about their unnaturally strong teeth. Not me. Bits of old leather. Firewood. One time I ate through a fiberglass shovel on a dare. I’d show you, but this isn’t an infomercial. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

My teeth are 100% American. They flashed a smile when American gymnast Kerri Strugg landed her famous gold medal-winning vault in the 1996 Summer Olympics. They ground with rage when two planes crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

My teeth are white, my gums are red, and my tongue is blue. (I had a snow cone with lunch.)

Over the course of my life, my teeth have taken a lot. I was once hit right in the mouth with a ball peen hammer. Someone threw it at me after I ate the tires off his car to impress a girl. My skull felt as if it were going to shake right off my head, but my teeth? They were fine. They went right on chomping life.

I brush and floss my teeth three times a day. I coat them with a strengthening agent. I don’t care to reveal its chemical make-up — most of the ingredients are illegal. I drink lots of milk, and take a daily calcium supplement. I’ve never smoked or chewed tobacco. I only use my teeth for one reason: to destroy things weaker than them.

I visit the dentist once a month. My dentist’s name is Kenny Byars, an American name. He’s a Mormon, and that’s an American religion. He learned dentistry at UCLA School of Dentistry, an American institute of higher learning. Kenny is a little unnerved by my teeth, I can tell. But I pay him well in American dollars, so he never complains.

My teeth were once commissioned to perform an execution. The Texas state government hired me to bite off the head of condemned man at the neck in one clean stroke.

For weeks leading up to the event, I practiced on pumpkins and watermelons, then freshly slaughtered pigs. I had become so lethal that I drew a crowd on my front lawn. People called me Great White. But unlike God’s masterpiece of the animal kingdom I do not have row upon row of razor-sharp teeth. I have but one pair, which is all I needed to bite off the head of a living man.

Of course, I did not actually get to perform this service. Some bleeding heart liberals complained to the American Civil Liberties Union, which picketed the proceedings. Then the Texan governor pardoned the prisoner from having to face the dire justice of my teeth. All I can say is that’s one lucky prisoner.

My teeth sometimes act of their own accord. Gnashing, biting, devouring, they pull me in the direction they want to go. I bit through the door of my aunt’s Prius once without even meaning to. She has great insurance, so it was okay. But since then, conversations with her at family functions have been chilly.

About every two or three months, my teeth separate from my body and go out night-prowling. Once they were gone for a full two days. I had to eat Jell-O for every meal. God knows what they get up to. All I know is that the mornings after these sojourns, I awake with the taste of blood in my mouth.

You would be right to be afraid of my teeth. God knows I am. They’re bigger than me, bigger than all of us. Their unflinching ambition will purge this land, swifter than thought, stronger than the earth itself. All of us shall very soon face their wrath.

I have American teeth. They will chew through the Rocky Mountains. They’ll mulch the Great Plains. They’re beautiful and wonderful, and they will eat the world.

Illustration by Brittany Bilyeu

Nathan Pensky is a writer and editor living in rural Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter.