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   Stranger Things sucks
Monday, August 1 2022

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

Early this afternoon, I drove out to West Hurley for a dental appointment to have something done about the crown that mysteriously vanished from my right top wisdom tooth back in late February (I must've swallowed it). For more than five months I've been living with the crownless stump, which contains a huge hole that collects a little of everything I eat (until I blast it clean with a water pick). There hadn't been time to deal with the crown at my last couple of visits to the dentist, so the appointment to fix it had been scheduled for today. The dentist injected some topical anæsthetic near the tooth and then ground out the hole to remove any decay that had developed (there couldn't've been much) and then slapped in a temporary crown, which would do a lot on its own to improve the experience of chewing food on that side of my mouth. The surprise came at the end end when the woman working the desk charged me $1000 for the new crown. My understanding of how these things work is that so long as you stay with the same dentist, that dentist guarantees the integrity of things like crowns. Certainly in this case the crown should've been under warranty; it had been installed just a day less than a year ago and had fallen out after about seven months. I was pretty sure the dentist knew all this; I'd told him he might have the 3D models for the missing crown on his computer and he'd even said that this tooth was reminding him of one of Gretchen's crowns. "You mean the one that keeps falling off?" I'd asked. "Don't say that so loud," he'd replied. I'm non-confrontational by nature and figured they must have some reason for charging me, which seemed almost fair considering all the discounts they give us (and the fact that they've done some work on Powerful's teeth pro-bono). I thought I'd talk it over with Gretchen, since she would know what to do, and, if it required confrontation, she'd be the one to pull it off. (I'll admit that I have a fair amount of learned helplessness when it comes to confrontation, and this makes it all the more likely any confrontation I attempt will go pear-shaped in one direction or the other.)

While I was in the bathtub, Gretchen returned fairly late this evening after working at the bookstore and dinner with Lisa P. at the Garden Café. At the bookstore today, a woman and her daughter had come in and the daughter had bought over $200 worth of books. The mother had then told Gretchen that her daughter likes books but that she prefers casinos, which is not the kind of admission anyone should ever make even if it's true. The mother had then asked if there were any good restaurants in the area. Naturally, Gretchen recommended the Garden Café. "Is that a vegetarian restaurant?" the mother asked. Gretchen admitted that it was. "Well, we'll go there because my daughter is a vegetarian. But then we'll go somewhere else because I don't eat like that," the mother said. Gretchen tried to explain that all kinds of people eat there, but the mother was pretty sure she'd be ordering something very small if anything and saving her appetite for some place that served pieces of dead animals. Later when Gretchen was dining with Lisa, she saw that mother and her daughter at the Garden, and the mother was losing her shit over how great the food had been. She added that she wouldn't be needing to eat anywhere else this evening.
I told Gretchen about the unexpected crown expense today at the dentist's, and she didn't freak out quite the way I expected her to. She wondered what I would want her to do about it. Ultimately I told her it would be fine if she talked to the receptionist about it, since the two have great rapport.

This evening Gretchen and I decided to catch up on Stranger Things before attempting to watch the fourth season. The last episode we'd watched was the first one of the third season, and then evidently we'd lost interest. So we watched that first episode again just to have a suitable base to build upon. As I watched it, I came to remember all the things I don't like about the show. The humor is deeply unsophisticated, as if it's intended for children (which, on some level, it is). This clashes with other things about the show, such as its prolific use of the word "shit," and the gratuitous gore, which often rises to the level of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. On some level, the show is just 80s nostalgia porn, intended for people (unlike me) who loved that stupid, selfish, deeply tacky decade. (I'm nostalgic for the computers of that period, but not much else.) And perhaps the low-brow nature of the dialog is just more deliberate 1980s nostalgia, harkening back to a time when people watched shows even when they didn't much like them just because there wasn't much choice. Despite all this, we started watching episode two of season three immediately after episode one was over. But it wasn't long before Gretchen turned to me and said she was bored. So then we skipped ahead to the first episode of season four, mostly because we're dying to know the significance of the Kate Bush song ("Running Up That Hill") that season four has injected so deeply into popular culture that it's in regular rotation on the local pop radio stations. We watched the whole episode, which seemed to drag on forever, and we did get to hear "Running Up That Hill" once. But after that, I turned to Gretchen and said that I would be wasting no more of my life watching Stranger Things.


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