Page 69 of my memoir

Kottke reports that Marshall McCluhan’s advice for book buyers was to read page 69. “If you like that page, buy the book.”

Here’s page 69 of my memoir Small Journeys:

“Well, Mom says we can only drink water between meals. Milk is too expensive.”

“Can’t you ask her for milk? You could tell her I don’t like water.”

“Why don’t we just get a glass of water.”


We rumbled into the kitchen, and I boosted myself onto the counter to get two water glasses. As I was filling my glass, Mom came into the room. “Michael, would you like some milk?”


My jaw dropped to the floor as I watched Mom pour my friend an enormous glass of cool milk. I was so surprised, I didn’t even think to ask for my own glass.

“Okay, I think we can remove the mouth dam now. Leon, can you get a spit cup?”

I finally let my arms relax as they peeled the rubber covering from my face and snipped it away from my teeth. My mouth was slack, and I was able to get even less of the bloody saliva into the cup. Leon wiped the spit off of my face, then told me I could go.

As I walked woozily back towards the waiting room, I could hear the dentist talking to Cynthia. “Congratulations, Cynthia, you’ve just filled your first tooth. Don’t worry about the mistakes–that’s what you’re here for. You wouldn’t want to put a paying customer through all that.”

“David, how are you?” Mom gently brushed the sweat-soaked hair away from my temples. “That took an awful long time. What were they doing in there?”

“They put me on nitrous oxide. I don’t like that stuff–it smells like cough syrup.”

That’s not bad. The chapter is about a horrific trip to the free dental clinic, juxtaposed with a few key anecdotes from my childhood. It was about being poor. Does it make you want to read more?

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