Me and Jay Leno

ca. 2009 --- Jay Leno --- Image by © Matthias Clamer/Corbis Outline

I wrote a book and decided to call it “How to be the luckiest person alive!” But I didn’t feel so lucky when I woke up this morning. My mouth was in a train wreck of pain. Earlier this week I decided to get 20 years worth of dental work done in three hours. I had switched dentists maybe ten times in the past twenty years.

Every time I would go to the dentist it would go something like this. He’d shine a light in there and then say something like, “whoah! This is a mess.” I’d make some jokes about my movie star looks. The dentist assistants would usually laugh but the dentist would be all serious. “This is no joking matter. You could lose all your teeth.”

Really?

So we’d have to schedule a follow up appointment. I needed a solid cleaning, “so we can really see what’s going on in there. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

And then I wouldn’t show up. Not intentionally. I’d want to show up. I’d feel good about getting things all straightened out in there. But I would get busy. You know how it is. I’d schedule a noon lunch and forget that it might overlap with a 12:30pm dental appointment. These are honest mistakes. You make them also.

In any case, this time I decided to go all out.  I took charge. I was the General. “Lets get everything done in one shot,” I said to the dentist, his nurses, his secretaries. They were my private dental army. “But I don’t want to be awake for it. I want an anesthesiologist to knock me out from beginning to end.” So we scheduled to have three teeth removed (actually, it was two, but when I woke up I found out he took out a third just because he felt like it. The doctor explained to the nurse who explained to Claudia who had to explain to me when blood was unexpectedly dripping out of the left side of my mouth, that there was some tooth back there that nobody ever saw before or had ever even heard of that was so badly diseased it was going to destroy my whole mind if I didn’t have it removed.) Then we were going to go through with some ultra tooth cleansing and some gum planing and a few more other things.

The anesthesiologist (his name was Dr. Khan!) said, “I’m going to make you high first” and that’s the last I remember before waking up feeling as if someone had slammed me repeatedly in the face in the alley in the back of a bar.

(The Wrath of Khan!)

But after that the pain was all gone. I was taking non-stop percocets and throwing in some other secret ingredients and all was good. I was the luckiest man alive. I was floating.

And then I woke up this morning. It wasn’t even light out. I was in pain again. I thought it was supposed to be over already. Its been four days! Ow! What the heck happened? I couldn’t move my mouth.  OW! WHAT THE-!

I was stumbling around. My ipad! I had to have my ipad. For some reason I felt that holding an 64 GB 3G ipad 2 would stop my dental pain. That’s what Steve Jobs has done to me.

What are you looking for? Claudia was asking. She was a bit scared. It was 5 in the morning and my thrashing around had woken her. My ipad. Where is it? Under the bed? On the floor? Under piles of clothes? Where is it? My mouth hurts! Claudia was looking in the jewelry drawer. Why would an ipad be there?  Finally, I found it. Under my pillow.

Ahh, my mouth was pounding. I took 800 mg of Motrin and another Percocet.  Knowing that in twenty minutes I would start to feel better made me feel better already. The ipad turns on in an instant.  I was starting to feel like the world was normal again.

Things load. Wi-fi kicks in. Gmail updates. Facebook notifies. Twitter mentions. I was forgetting about my teeth. But…what was this??

“Don’t worry about it,” someone emailed me at about midnight last night, “all publicity is good publicity.”

Huh?

Another one. “What a small world. My buddy is Jay Leno’s chief gag writer.”

What?

Another one, “watch Leno’s opening routine.”

So I did.

Claudia said, “Honey, he pronounced your last name right!”

She’s a good wife.

And, sometimes, I am the luckiest man alive.

(click to see Jay Leno and me)

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  • Joan of Argghh!

    So, tell us, is laughter the best medicine? :o)

    • bvotteler

      @fa075d08b6522f0347ff94a963c24ba1:disqus Negative. Unfortunately, I can confirm that is not true. A couple of years ago in a bar, a guy punched me in the face. I was so surprised that I started laughing. Then he punched a few more times.

  • reedlee

    I say go all out………….have Claudia straighten your hair…..get some round wire-rims……and get out there and sign autographs…………sorry…that was the percocet talking

  • Bobby

    hahaha that is pretty awesome. Did I hear you recommending housing and stocks in the same sentence?!?!

  • Marc

    Funny thing is I never ever watch Leno. Happened to have it on last night and saw that. Congrats

  • Anonymous

    lolz, love that

  • Sooz

    J.A., this could be your chance at a stand~up gig. You need to call Jay(a thousand times) and work this spot into your future stand~up career..

    Claudia..:))

    • http://aeronode.tumblr.com james

      I read a book containing interviews with a bunch of comedians. It seemed like most of them are depressed nerds (like a Simpsons writer with a degree from Harvard who said he still thought about girls from high school).

    • http://aeronode.tumblr.com james

      I read a book containing interviews with a bunch of comedians. It seemed like most of them are depressed nerds (like a Simpsons writer with a degree from Harvard who said he still thought about girls from high school).

    • http://aeronode.tumblr.com james

      I read a book containing interviews with a bunch of comedians. It seemed like most of them are depressed nerds (like a Simpsons writer with a degree from Harvard who said he still thought about girls from high school).

  • Shane

    The crowd seemed to love that gag. Hmmmm…

  • Anonymous

    haha. jay leno shoutout ftw! also, when i had my wisdom teeth out, they said “you’ll feel a cold sensation up your arm.” I did. then it got to my head and I went, wooooh, and was lighhhtts out.

    -www.awkwardengineer.com

  • razoredge

    ur teeth look great!

  • http://twitter.com/herbgreenberg herbgreenberg

    James, just be happy you didn’t have an abscess because if you did you would prefer whatever pain you are experiencing now! wait till the implants!!!! man, not sure i ever met anybody w/quite as much drama!

    • PatD

      Absolutely luv James A. blogs…
      you are probably one of a few …that can get away with paraphrasing calling him a drama queen…LOL
      But isnt that what we log in to read???
      magnifying life experiences gets people to think and talk about their own…
      and its all a good thing…
      BTW…North County Coastal is still awesome…
      best wishes…

      • http://twitter.com/herbgreenberg herbgreenberg

        Absolutely… that’s why we log on! What will happen to James next? Or… what did James do in his past that we marvel at? Or, is James really older than he looks? Or — how could he not know he had a tooth that mysteriously showed up?

        And thanks for the reminder of North County Coastal…. my favorite two stretches: Torrey Pines beach and the stretch north of Solana Beach to Encinitas …. oh, and anything in La Jolla.

  • ‘Vivian Andrade

    Ha Ha! LOLz James All-Tooth-er :)-

  • abcdj

    Heroin is man-made heroin. It was invented by someone working for Bayer and originally marketed as a non-addictive substitute for natural morphine. But yeah, percocet & heroin are structurally very similar, and their mechanisms of action are basically the same. The one time I used percocet – following dental work, as may be the norm – I realized I was at risk for developing a habit: for me, it was Christ-like.

  • http://thepuppets.tv Mao_Junior

    the thought of reaching out for the ipad to help stem off pain is absolutely hilarious…yet true!! ROFLMAO …been there done that…the iPad is like Zantac and Pepto combined!!

  • http://twitter.com/jcastellon Jose Castellon

    lmfao this is amazing!

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    Too funny. Just too funny.

    Peculiar even.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jayzalowitz Jay Zalowitz

    @Jaltucher:twitter Call up your dentist, they can give you two weeks worth of extras….. (don’t ask me how i know this, I honestly couldnt tell ya.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

    Comments from Facebook (I linked to the article there):

    Lauren Altucher Wait….what????! Are you saying that my last name was used in conjunction
    with Harry Potter on Jay Leno????? You’ve got to stop doing this shit,
    James.6 hours ago ·

    Tim Melvin im sorry..I cant stop laughing at that clip…5 hours ago ·

    Trish Cosgrove James, that is too funny.5 hours ago ·

    Rebecca Carman Blecman Hilarious. WOW. Laughing…you rock.2 hours ago ·

    Jayne Whittles that was too funny!!!!!!15 minutes ago · Like

  • http://twitter.com/tinyreal Michael tiny Saul

    When you get your own show, you can do a segment called “Too old to take back your time slot from Conan when you can’t make it in your new time slot” and show his ugly mug. He should work on being funny rather than making fun of the luckiest person alive

  • http://www.bloggingbookshelf.com TristanH

    That is absolutely amazing. I want to be compared to a teenage wizard by Jay Leno.

  • Andrew

    The pain will make you strong. Like the goddamn terminator!

  • http://www.thecynicalinvestor.net cynical investor

    Not so long ago went for cleaning; couldn’t remember last time I did it (maybe never), I was so ashamed when I was asked when it was the last time I had a cleaning and I could not answer.

    The problem is that you go to the dentist for a problem and they find other 1000 so I tried to avoid them.

    However the cleaning took so long, towards the end tears were coming uncontrollably from one eye
    .

  • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    I’d take a mention on the Jay Leno show in any form.

    I am glad to hear that all of my dental procrastination can eventually be fixed in one sitting, while I am unconscious.

    I finally know how to pronounce your last name.

    All good things.

  • David Lunsford

    “For some reason I felt that holding an 64 GB 3G ipad 2 would stop my dental pain. That’s what Steve Jobs has done to me.”

    I love this line.

    • http://www.maslakdds.com/ Fabrizia Alan

      Me too :D

  • http://www.parmcharm.com karen parmelee

    You are ready for your close-up !! Do you find that you flash a toothy smile now as compared to the lip-only smile?

  • http://www.dinosaurtrader.com dinosaurtrader

    Now you have a theme song! Damn, I’ve always wanted a theme song. Maybe you can have that autoload when people come to the blog, “Too old to look like Harry Potter!”

    I will whistle it throughout Mother’s Day.

    -DT

  • http://buypolaroids.com Courtney

    Ha ha! Fantastic, I just had all 4 wisdom teeth out last week, and the post drug pleasure was enough to almost start an addiction- seeing yourself on Jay during this would have been divine.

  • Tonx

    James you have broken through the pop culture barrier. Perhaps you will earn your way onto a reality series…..seriously dude, that was awesome!

  • Asilvest

    James, a month ago I passed through the same. Unfortunately for some people (me included), it takes more than 4 or 5 days to recover and you seems to be the case as well. Prepare for around 12/14 days of pain. Do not miss your Motrin and percocet. Try to do something during night, because i am pretty sure that you are pressuring your teeth while asleep (this make your healing process slower). I found useful to sleep with a couple of socks (clean, please) between my teeth. But above all, the one thing that really help me to feel better, I found it around the 10th day: You have to accept that it is gong to hurt you and accept the pain, not matter what other people are telling you that it is a matter of a day or two more, you have your own pace of recovery once you accept that and avoid the thinking that the last pain was the last, you will start feeling better little by little.

    Alejandro

  • Anonymous

    Leno should have at least mentioned your URL :) but hey, people can always Google you :)