Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the great oxgoad

It’s Wednesday and I’m feverishly reading The Private Life of Chairman Mao. It’s a mission. 635 pages, not including notes. I’m on page 268, which brings us to early 1958, right after “Let 100 Flowers Bloom” and The Great Leap Forward. Despite the title, there aren’t all that many juicy details. Lots of political infighting and plenty of reason for disillusionment. The book was written by Mao’s personal doctor, and so far the most lurid segment had to do with the Great Helmsman’s teeth.

“As I looked into Mao’s mouth, I saw his teeth were covered with a heavy greenish film. A few of them seemed loose. I touched the gums lightly and some pus oozed out.”

I have a couple more decades of sleazy hygiene to cram before I return the book to a friend who used to work in our Frankfurt office and now works in our New York office. I’ll see him in NY next week, and hell if I’m lugging Mao’s formaldehyde corpse across continents again.

4 comments:

Kasscho said...

eeeeeeoooooo, is all I can say...

ron hardy said...

I second that eeeeeoooo. Maybe one of the problems with a great cultural revolution is that eliminating the educated class means no dentists, just "barefoot doctors." I can't imagine the Breath. Pass the pliers.

Valerie Loveland said...

I was thinking about either becoming a dental hygienist or an optician and I was applying at eye doctors and dentist offices. I am so glad I got the eye doctor job.

SarahJane said...

I lived briefly in China, and can only say that dental care left a lot to be desired - in the home and in the dentist's office. I assume things have improved. But many people "cleaned" their teeth by swishing the mouth out with tea. Just enough to dislodge the larger barnacles...

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