Three things to consider:

  1. You can learn a lot about a person by looking at their teeth. Some people are slobs and let their teeth rot; others are weak and take drugs that make them fall out. Some people cheat with whitening strips, and then some are just unluckily inferior. Teeth work in different ways for different creatures. Consider what they do for fish, who have far more teeth than us, some which of are in their throat.
  2. A fish will eat anything it can fit in its mouth. In the ocean, many species of fish swim in schools, not necessarily because they enjoy each other’s company, but because in large groups the individual is less likely to be eaten. “If a predator comes along, it is more likely to eat some of my hundreds of friends rather than myself. I can also eat things smaller than I am.” This is my thought process if I am a fish.
  3. As humans, it seems we have forgotten that things used to eat us. Giant birds used to prey on us, and so did sabretooths, crocodiles, bears, sharks, and possibly even plants. Every once in a while, we still sometimes do get eaten when nature takes a notion to remind us that we can. Overall, though, between weapons, boats, shelter, and the occasional mass extinction to help us along, we have done a pretty good job at figuring out how not to get eaten.

I met Sibyl at the supermarket on an ethereal summer day in the afternoon. She was wearing a white sundress with a sunhat as wide as she was tall. I saw nothing of her face at first, spare for her mockingly perfect set of teeth. White as pearls and straight as a phalanx of Roman soldiers—I wanted to kill her. You may ask what makes one set of teeth better than another. Let me explain it this way: some people are good at crocheting. Others, such as myself, do not know a single thing about crocheting. You could show me many different things people have made, and I might be able to pick up a general sense of “good or poor work,” but I can’t tell you what makes a well-crocheted thing better than another well-crocheted thing. I don’t even know all of the things people can crochet, which is why I simply have to refer to them as “things.” Yet there is still the notion that somehow, in creating a well crocheted thing, that its permanence and beauty transcends our individual being. This is what it’s like in the world of teeth. You can look at two gorgeous pairs of teeth but not know why one set is necessarily better than the other. What I can tell you is that Sibyl’s teeth were undoubtedly better than mine. The rest would be too nuanced and difficult for you to understand.

The first thing I wanted to do is be like Triple H and take a big fucking sledgehammer and bash her face into a purple mass that would make anyone see it puke. Make the poor fucker who would have to scrape her off the concrete lose those twenty McNuggets he just ate. (We never let ourselves puke by the way; the acid in vomit is bad for your teeth.) But to destroy something as perfect as those teeth would be more of a spiritual, temporal crime. It would reach much further than homicide or any other courtroom nonsense. Such pristine teeth should be admired and beloved as a gift to the world.

Buying several pounds of meat is usually the way teeth enthusiasts signal to one another that they are in the teeth community. I placed my basket of meat on the counter next to Sibyl. She glanced over and took note of its contents. For us, it’s a much easier way than picking up a date at the bar. I obviously shouldn’t have to tell you why. “Want to come back to my place,” I asked, flashing my smile.

She was more than elated to meet another teeth person, as she gave a cute little excited clap and squeal when she saw my smile and what I was buying. Once I was done paying, she grabbed me by the arm as we left the store. “My house is just down the block; let’s go to mine instead.”

I was surprised that she owned a home due to the fact she couldn’t have been older than me, but I wasn’t going to question someone with a pair of superior teeth. I know my place. She insisted on holding my hand as we walked along the blinding pavement. Her enormous sunhat was constantly slicing into my neck; concrete shimmered in the distance. It was hot. After walking for a couple minutes, we crossed the street into a nearby older residential area. She looked up at me and told me we were almost there. When she would smile, the sun would glance off her teeth. The blinding mass coming from her mouth looked like it was projecting light from another world.

Her lawn was grossly unkempt and made up of an amalgamation of white-capped dandelions and milkweed. Our grocery bags were dripping from the thawing of the meat, and when she sat hers down on the step to unlock her door, it sizzled on the concrete. Once she got the correct key to the lock, she opened the door for me to go inside. I stepped inside looking for a lamp because the shades were drawn and it was dark. The shag rug carpet felt damp as I took off my sandals. I could feel the things living in it crawl across my toes. A light clicked on across the room into an open conjoined kitchen and dining room. I smiled and took my sack of meat to the table where hers was setting. She opened a glass cabinet and took out two eloquent plates that were deep enough to hold blood from the meat. “My grandmother’s,” she said. “We’ve been doing this for a long time.”

I nodded and began to take the contents from my grocery bag. Flank steak, hamburger, bacon, and today’s special: filet mignon. Sibyl was no longer wearing her sunhat and I could finally see her silver hair with the tips that would hang in dishes dyed red with blood. Just like deprived alcoholics, we trembled as we laid all the meat out in the dishes and let it finish thawing. The house was hot and the air conditioning sputtered out damp air that coated my skin in a cool sweat. Sibyl seemed no more used to it as strands of her hair were already matting to her porcelain face. Yet as the meat warmed and its fresh smell began to seep into the room and circulate through the air, such annoyances fell to the wayside.

When our meat had thawed, we began to feast. I took the first bite of my filet mignon and shivered as it went down like the first shot of whiskey. I took another and the juices fired to the sides and dribbled down the edges of my lips; I was getting excited. I finished the filet and took a good handful of the ground beef, kneading it in my hands. Across from me, Sibyl was running her fingernails up and down a rack of ribs before she ripped into the middle. Once we were both done eating (it isn’t customary to speak when consuming meat with another teeth person, so as not to break their ecstasy or concentration), I undid my belt and leaned back in my chair. Because Sibyl was so small, she belched deeply as she stood up and caressed a disproportionate bulge in her stomach that made her look pregnant.

She waddled over to the fridge, where she took out a plate with a deep red, marbled meat cut into a small heart shape. “Ready for dessert,” she said. I nodded. She brought over the plate and sat it in front of me. “Go ahead, try it.”

I picked it up and weighed it in my hands. It contained a peculiar familiarity, an affinity, even, which told me what it was. Odorless, it smelled as nothing, because it was a smell I’d known my whole life. It was incomparable to any other kind of meat, it tasted like nothing, and it felt like my senses came from my stomach as I swallowed it. By my second bite, it felt like I was thinking from my gut. And at that point, I ultimately I knew that this was the highest moment I would ever reach; there was nothing left to look forward to. Sibyl knew what I was feeling, as once I finished, I looked up to find her sympathetically nodding. “I have a collection,” she told me. “Do you want to see it?”

I have spoken no words since my first bite. There was nothing left to say, nothing left to contribute to the world. I nodded and stood up. She grabbed hold of my hand as she led me downstairs. The meat in our guts sloshed as we descended.

When we got to the floor, she flicked on a light switch. I covered my eyes until they cleared, revealing, situated in glorious poses along the wall, skeletons whose teeth gleamed with fresh polish, immortalized in artistic contours of light and shadow. Their flesh gone, they stood silently grinning in peaceful serenity. Teeth never rotted, not cremated or left to wear down over centuries, but instead tended to. They were appreciated, cared about. Naked and decayed, we all look the same, and what is there to show for a physique? I could lift weights and get stronger than the strongest or eat until I’m fat and immobile and sick. Yet below it all and after time has stripped away all the flesh and all the muscle and mucus and blood, what is there? My teeth: pristine and bold as the day I die. In consuming man, I may now go beyond him. Flesh is flesh, yet teeth are that which by it is devoured; they are our bones on display to the world. No—graceful and alabaster under a stage light for all of eternity, my bones will be but pedestals for that which I have worked to perfect. For what I have dedicated my existence, one thing that neither fire nor flood nor time may strip from me. My flesh is temporary—my teeth are immortal.

Fish may swim in schools so as not to be eaten, yet when they die, they are still consumed. With their skeletons mulched and tumbled across the sea floor, they dissolve into calcic deposits that cake the sunken rune-scrawled stones carved by forgotten Men.