Michael Muggalby was always an
exceptionally clumsy person and his life was full of embarrassing
little accidents. But this tale is only about one of his
misadventures, namely the story of his disappearing dentures.
Or Muggalby's missing molars as his friends loved to say. "Lost
any good dentures lately, Muggalby?" they'd tease him.
Before describing Muggalby's
misadventures with his dentures, however, it is necessary to go
back a little in time. All his life Muggalby had been notorious
for losing things. While many parents complain about children
breaking their toys, Muggalby's parents had no problems with
breakages, only losses. His mother would often say, "No matter
how many toys we give Mick for Christmas, you can be certain
he'll have them all lost before New Year's Day!"
Despite this though there was
one thing he was careful not to lose: his teeth. All his life,
right up until late middle-age he had been a studious adherent of
dental hygiene. He avoided sweets and sugary foods and was
careful to always brush his teeth three times a day.
So, despite losing everything
and sundry throughout his life, Muggalby managed to hold onto his
own teeth until just after his sixtieth birthday.
Shortly after his fifty-eighth
birthday, Muggalby, who had never had a day's illness in his
life, came down with a bout of flu. Although in fairness to
him, it was an unusually virulent variety of flu strain-B, which
killed more than eighty thousand people world-wide that
In Australia there were only a couple of deaths, but nearly
three million people came down sick. Including poor Muggalby
who went close to death but managed to recover.
What he didn't seem to be able
to recover from though, were the endless colds he came down with
the following that winter.
"They're a result of the flu
overloading your immune system last year," explained the
"How do I cure them?" he asked.
Although it came out, "Ow ooh oor em."
"You can't, I'm afraid," said
the GP. "There's no cure for the common cold."
Muggalby was not convinced, so
he decided to get a second opinion. He found his local chemist
far more reassuring, since, unlike the doctor who got paid
whether or not he wrote any prescription, the chemist had to make
a sale before getting paid. Therefore he was very helpful
indeed, recommending almost everything that he had in stock.
Carefully pointing out that anything he did not have in stock
could not possibly work, otherwise he would stock it.
In this way the chemist managed
to sell him a small mountain of costly lotions and headache
powders, rubs and sprays over the next few months. By the time
everything else had failed and Muggalby finally got around to
trying relatively inexpensive cough lollies, winter had given way
to spring which in turn was well on the way to becoming summer.
However, the chemist assured him, "You can't be too careful
though, what with summer colds and all."
Muggalby wasn't too sure what
summer colds were, but then he had never taken much notice of
winter colds until after his bout of flu, so he decided not to
take any unnecessary chances.
He bought and sucked sweet,
sticky cough lollies by the hundreds, sometimes going through
half a dozen packets in a single day. This in itself was no
problem, until he took to sucking them in bed. He would fall
asleep with a mouthful of sticky sweets, which dissolved into a
sugary syrup, which oozed around inside his mouth, coating his
teeth and starting to rot.
For the first time in his life
Muggalby suffered from tooth aches. And, to his horror, the
dentist started to drill, then later extract his teeth. Until
one by one they had all come out shortly after his sixtieth
Even worse though was the
discovery that his new dentures were not only ill-fitting and
uncomfortable, but actually hurt his gums. Although not quite
the "Sooky-boy, cry-baby!" that his wife, Myrtle, accused him of
being, it was true Muggalby was not particularly fond of pain.
So, to his wife's dismay, he only wore his new dentures while
eating, when at work, or when they went out for
Although even then he could not
always be trusted to wear his dentures, preferring to put them in
a coat pocket (wrapped in a clean handkerchief) when not actually
eating, or else in a glass of water on the table. Which was how
he first lost his dentures.
The first time he was lucky.
The dentures were found by an old lady who sat at the table after
him. After the waiters brought her around with smelling salts,
she pointed up at the glass on the table and said, "Uqh! Ugh!
Eek! Eek!" One of the waiters took away the glass and kept
it, ready when Muggalby returned to ask after them.
Although unable to understand
his, "Id ooh ind a et o eef!" it did not take an Albert
Einstein to realise this was the owner of the factitious
Muggalby wasn't always so
fortunate, however. The next time he left his teeth in a glass,
it was in a railways washroom when he made a dash for a train.
An hour later, Myrtle rang through to the lost and found
department of the railways, just in case someone had handed in
"It's your own silly fault!"
said Myrtle, after telling him that, from what she could make out
over the laughter on the other end of the line, no-one had handed
in any manufactured molars. "Why can't you keep the rotten
things in your mouth?"
"Umph! Umph! Arpa! Arpa!"
protested Michael Muggalby, trying to explain a la Marcel
Marceau, by pantomiming sore gums.
"Sooky-boy, cry-baby!" taunted
Myrtle, before storming away.
Not all of Muggalby's dentures
(and he went through a dozen sets in as many years) disappeared
in so mundane a manner though.
On another occasion Muggalby's
molars had been badly chafing his gums all day at work, so the
moment he got home he took them off and put them on the kitchen
Seeing his wife's disapproving
look, he explained, "I eef ave ee illin ee!" Which meant, "My
teeth have been killing me!"
"Oh don't talk with your mouth
empty!" said Myrtle, storming out of the kitchen.
Shrugging his shoulders,
Muggalby picked up his mail and started to open it. Employed as
a plumber by the local city council, he eked out his income by
moonlighting on private jobs after work and on weekends, so he
had a small mountain of mail to open. However, most of it was
from plumbing-supply companies, and, since Muggalby did his
private work with pipes and fixtures borrowed on
"ninety-nine-year loan" from his employer, there was no need for
him to waste money, buying anything. So, scooping up the mail
in a great double-handful, he carried it across to the
pot-bellied stove, opened the small door, and crammed the mass of
Muggalby was halfway up the
corridor, heading toward the main bedroom, before he remembered
his dentures. With a shrug he returned to the kitchen and
started looking round the table. However, there was no sign of
the false teeth.
It was only as the pot-bellied
stove started to give off a noxious odour, that Muggalby realised
what he had done. "I eef, I oot em in the ove!" he said.
Which meant, "My teeth, I put them in the stove!"
On another occasion his
dentures were returned to him, however. Muggalby's latest set
of dentures had been missing for two days, when he received an
angry phone call from one of his private clients. He had
installed an indoor toilet at their house that Saturday, now they
complained that it was blocked up.
Muggalby assured them he would
hurry right over to fix the toilet free of charge. Since he
didn't want them making a fuss in case it got back to the council
that he was moonlighting.
Half an hour later Muggalby was
busily plunging away in the toilet bowl, when up came the
obstruction: a bright pink and white object. "I eef!" he said
in delight. Which meant, "My teeth!"
Myrtle, however, was less than
enthusiastic, when her husband displayed his recovered teeth to
her. "If you put those things back into your mouth, I'm leaving
you!" she shrieked.
"I eef!" protested Muggalby.
He didn't understand why he should throw away a perfectly good
set of dentures, when a new pair would cost him a few hundred
As Muggalby became notorious
for his missing molars, he started to be teased by his workmates,
who thought it was screamingly funny. Unfortunately Muggalby
had no sense of humour and would become spitting mad. Literally
spitting mad, since a defect in his saliva glands meant that when
he became angry or upset his mouth would almost overflow with
saliva, which he spat out in great globs to clear his
One day on the way home from
work he was spitting mad after his workmates had hardly let up on
him all day. As his mouth rushed full of saliva, he leant his
head out the driver's window of his Nissan Pintara and unleashed
a mighty burst onto the bonnet of a car going in the opposite
"Ot a ay!" said Muggalby as he
stepped into the house.
"Have you taken out your teeth
before getting into the house?" demanded Myrtle.
"O ere ill ere," said Muggalby.
Which meant, "No, they're still there."
"It doesn't sound like it,"
Shrugging, he reached up to
take out his dentures to show her.
"That's only the bottom set,"
she said, looking in disgust at the false teeth.
"Oh oh!" he said, realising
that he must have spit out the top set onto the bonnet of the
passing car. No wonder the driver was so upset! thought
Muggalby's molars kept going
missing over the next twelve years and as his wife complained at
his funeral, "He must have spent thousands of dollars on
replacement sets of false teeth!"
After his death at the age of
seventy-two, Myrtle Muggalby sold or gave away all of her late
husband's belongings, keeping only his last set of dentures as a
memento of him. As she explained to her sister, "His false
teeth are what I remember best about Mick, so they'll remind me
of him better than anything else."
Myrtle had the dentures silver
plated, so that she could keep them on display upon the
mantelpiece. However, she is unable to show them to you, since
a week or so after they were plated, the false teeth went
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