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Body

If parts of the body could talk, I wonder what they’d say. To that end, I imagined the following dialogue among mostly facial features.

Teeth: Hey, look at me. Something’s changed. You’re going to like it.

Ears: What? You’re talking again? Seriously. Can’t you give it a rest, just for a few moments? Here’s a news flash: You don’t have to eat crunchy food all the time. How about eating something soft once in a while?

Teeth: Crunchy food tastes good.

Tongue: Yes, but the ears have a point. That crunchy stuff scratches me.

Eyes: Keep it down. I’m surfing the net and you’re distracting me.

Nose: Oh, how wonderful. You get to look for stuff all day long, while I’m sitting here waiting for Eileen to share perfume that smells like flowers.

Ears: So, you like Eileen?

Nose: No, but she smells a lot better than we do. Our armpits leave something to be desired at the end of the day. It’s amazing we’re still married.

Armpit: You wouldn’t smell so great either if you got damp every time the stress level started to rise. Besides, with all that running, nose, I’d think you’d be in better shape.

Nose: Is that supposed to be funny?

Armpit: I’m sorry. I know it’s not your fault. Maybe my stress would be lower if the eyes didn’t spend so much time reading about politics.

Teeth: Wait, guys. Come on, I want to tell you something. You’re going to like it.

Ears: Oh, please. Are you going to tell us that you have a few more thoughts you’d like to share about a way to smile so we look better in selfies? Forget it. Haven’t you heard? Your daughter said you’re incapable of taking a good selfie. She’s probably right. Selfie’s were made for people much younger than we are. They’re a tool to even out the generational power struggle.

Cheeks: We’re as young as we feel, right?

Eyes: Have you looked in the mirror lately? Cheeks, you’re showing our age.

Cheeks: Wait, what’s wrong with me?

Eyes: Nothing’s wrong. It’s just that gravity seems to have caught up with you.

Chin: Gravity, that’s funny.

Eyes: You haven’t looked in the mirror either, have you chin?

Chin: Why?

Eyes: Are you trying to clone yourself?

Nose: Ignore them, cheeks and chin. They’re just jealous.

Eyes: Jealous? What? Let’s just say that the new hairs coming out of you, my little nose friend, aren’t winning admirers.

Nose: Hairs? Where?

Ears: Can we keep it down? I’m trying to enjoy the few moments of silence before the phone rings or
someone else has to share thoughts about a better way to do something.

Eyes: We noticed the extra hairs growing on you, too, ears.

Ears: You’re in a bad mood today, eyes. What’s wrong?

Eyes: Nothing.

Teeth: No, you can tell us.

Eyes: I need to wear close glasses for the computer and distance glasses for driving. I hate having two pairs and it takes me a minute to adjust.

Nose: Tell me about it. The computer glasses are pinching me.

Ears: Yeah, and they’re irritating me, too.

Teeth: Come on. I have something to say.

Ears; Of course you do. That’s all you do. Blah, blah, blah. Would it hurt you to listen?

Teeth: I am part of the mouth, you know. That’s what I do.

Ears: Yes, but silence can be good for all of us, you know?

Eyes: OK, tell us this important news that you’re so eager to share.

Teeth: After all these years, my teeth are straight. See? My smile isn’t crooked anymore.

Eyes: Let me see.

Teeth: Aah.

Eyes: Hmm, they are straighter. What do you know? Now, what can you do about your breath?

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If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, what should we be preventing?

Well, we all brush our teeth. At least, we do most of the time, assuming we haven’t relaxed under the covers too long on a cold night and haven’t allowed ourselves to drift off to a wonderful, warm place where we don’t have to worry about meetings, tests, social anxiety, or delayed trains the next day.

Did we also floss? That’s a ridiculous question for those of us who have seen the 1992 movie Prelude to a Kiss. At the end of the film, Julius, played by Sydney Walker, has returned to his body after switching with Meg Ryan on her wedding day. An older man, Julius asks if he can give the young couple a piece of advice. “Floss,” he advises sagely.

Okay, so, what else do we prevent? We change the oil in our cars, or maybe a service station does that. They also probably check our brakes, realign our wheels, and check all our other fluids. That’s all good and seems necessary. How often we do that depends on our tradition and our comfort level with our vehicles.

Then, there’s our bodies. Insurance plans seem to cover the cost of an annual physical. The doctor asks us about any changes, takes some samples, and gets back to us, reminding us to eat better, to sleep better and to exercise more often. Those visits can either be a source of great pride, as we walk in noticeably lighter than we were last year, or a source of frustration, as the weight we lost the year before seems to have boomeranged back to us.

For our bodies, we can also take some preventive steps. I recently endured some lower back problems. I always thought the one advantage of being on the shorter side was that I wouldn’t have to worry about the bad backs some of the tall people of the world suffer. Wrong. My lower back was so stiff that climbing out of a car took much longer than it should, while walking down steps or a slight incline caused me to wince.

My chiropractor helped relieve that pain and gave me some back exercises, which I now do semi-regularly. Okay, well, I don’t do them as often as I brush my teeth, but I do take some time to stretch and strengthen my lower back.

When I was young and playing sports, I used to arrive at a field and play baseball, basketball or anything else and immediately start running at top speed. I barely stretched because I couldn’t wait to play.

Fast forward to today and the true weekend warrior in me, who has endured a groin strain and a partial tear of my rotator cuff, requires at least 10 to 15 minutes of stretching.

As with most life lessons, we become more aware of pitfalls and potholes after we’ve fallen into them. My experience with kidney stones means that I barely go a waking hour without drinking a cup of water. When the doctor told me that half of all kidney stone patients return within five years, I immediately decided I wanted to be in the other half, so I’m drinking water constantly.

I’m sure there are other house items we should maintain, like heaters, air conditioners, dishwashers, refrigerators and other appliances. After all, even though so many of those run for long periods of time without needing any service, they probably won’t require anything major if we give them that extra ounce of preventive attention.

File photo from Margo Arceri

Story last updated 4.11.2016, 1:30 p.m.

Police have identified the body found near a beach off Setauket Harbor on Monday morning, linking him back to an emergency crash-landing that happened nearby in February, Suffolk County cops said.

Gerson Salmon-Negron, 23, was last seen shortly after 11 p.m. on Feb. 20 when the Piper Archer four-seated airplane he was in went down in the waters of Setauket Harbor with three others on board. His body was finally found on Monday morning after a 911 call told dispatchers about a body spotted on the beach near Brewster Lane in Setauket around 9:10 a.m., the Suffolk County Police Department said.

The three other men, student pilot Austricio Ramirez, 25, Nelson Gomez, 36, and Wady Perez, 25, were rescued by nearby neighbors and officers soon after the crash. The small plane had taken off from Fitchburg, Mass., en route to Republic Airport in Farmingale, but went down near the vicinity of 108 Van Brunt Manor Road in Poquott. The incident spurred residents living on the Strongs Neck side of the water to jump into action as soon as they noticed emergency vehicles making their way into the small North Shore community.

Related: Small plane crash-lands in Setauket Harbor

As the incident unfolded, residents living along the shoreline started offering up their personal kayaks for rescuers to use to lift the survivors out to safety.

“Where this occurred, there are only a few homes, but instantly, the neighbors pulled together,” resident Margo Arceri said in a previous interview after the crash occurred. “They say, ‘it takes a village,’ and these neighbors showed a real sense of community. We all pulled together immediately. I just wish it had a happier ending.”

In a report released in March, the National Transportation Safety Board said that aircraft reported low amounts of fuel and had been operated for about five hours since its tank was last filled. The report said the plane’s engine “sputtered” as it approached the Port Jefferson area, spurring the flight instructor to turn on the electric fuel pump and instructing his student pilot to switch the fuel selector to the plane’s left fuel tank as it flew at around 2,000 feet. The sputtering stopped, but started up again about three minutes later, the NTSB said, and then lost power.

That was when the pilot instructor took control of the plane and tried heading to the shoreline, where he believed the plane could safely land, the NTSB report said. But the pilot was unable to see the shoreline due to the darkness and could only guess where the shoreline began by the lights inside of nearby houses, the report said.

He held the plane off of the water for as long as he could before touching down and instructing everyone to grab a life vest and exit the plane, the NTSB said. Neither the student pilot nor the passengers, however, were wearing life vests when they exited the plane, the report said. Emergency personnel were on the scene within minutes and rescued three of the four men.

The airplane floated in the water for about five minutes before sinking nose-first to the bottom of the harbor, the NTSB said.

Divers with the Suffolk County Police Department pursue the aircraft as the missing person search continues. Photo from Margo Arceri
Divers with the Suffolk County Police Department search for Gerson Salmon-Negron’s body shortly after the plane crash-landed. File photo from Margo Arceri