Friday, May 21, 2010

* In Your Face

Bill Kmon

The Beamer of the Upper Valley

For the past 20 years there’s been a man in Lebanon N. H who has had his fists in my face at least once a year. Most of the time he was wielding a sharp instrument, and he wasn’t smiling. In fact, he was staring at me with a laser beam intensity that would penetrate steel.

A month ago he told me he wasn’t going to do that to me any more. He was retiring and moving out to Montana where he could never get to me again.

You’d think after all those years of being under his thumbs, so to speak, I’d be jumping with joy to be rid of him.

Well the fact is, I’m not. I’m actually a bit sad at losing him.

Not because I’m a masochist who enjoys fists and sharp weapons, but because that man is my dentist, and (as he was commended to me 20 years ago by a colleague with a Ph.D. in psychology) “he is the best oral surgeon in the Upper Valley.”

That man is Bill Kmon, Doctor of Dental Medicine.

Those fists, are the hands of a surgeon, poised with whatever instrument he is using to make exactly the precise incision, adjustment or sculpting needed to save a smile or relieve an ache of suffering.

And that stare is the power of concentration, marshaled by keen intelligence and passionate interest (and joy) in the service of his art to abolish pain and preserve health in and on the ivory keyboards which his fingers play like Horowitz at Carnegie Hall.

Suffice it to say that Bill Kmon literally saved my mouth. (Some people wish he hadn’t.)

When I arrived on his doorstep 22 years ago, I had been smoking cigars for 15 years and had ruined my gums. Yes---I had a mouth full of teeth, but like a fence in mud season, they weren’t secured by much and needed a new foundation.

With the magic of his scalpel and the artistry of those virtuoso fists, Bill Kmon “borrowed” some skin off the roof of my mouth and re-set those fence-posts in solid ground.

If I smile with my own ivory today, two decades later, it is because of Bill Kmon.

Indeed, I’d say I have a “Kmon smile” hanging on my face, just like some people brag about having a Picasso hanging on their wall.

And the artist behind my smile is just as much a genius to me as Picasso is to an art buyer, except that my masterpiece doesn’t just sit on an easel or hang on a wall; it goes wherever I go---- it moves, it laughs, it eats, it smiles, it shapes sounds and it makes me feel like me.

So thank you, Maestro Kmon, not only from me but from the thousands of patients you have imprinted with Kmon smile over the 37 years of your tenure in the Upper Valley.

May the memories of every one of those beaming faces of ivory 'beam you up' in Montana and wherever else your well deserved retirement takes you.


Paul D. Keane
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

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