There was an article in my local paper the News & Record which reported that at the Westchester County Jail in Valhalla,NY, officials were leery when eleven inmates filed a $500 million lawsuit demanding access to dental floss. The column went on to say floss has been used to strangle enemies, to escape, saw through bars, to pick handcuffs, make a hand grip and to hoist contraband from one level of cells to another. Wow! I never knew there were so many uses for dental floss; it’s like duct tape – very versatile. The lawsuit stated the jail was “violating inmates” federally protected civil rights by being denied floss. I want to know if any of these inmates on death row. If they are what difference does it make? It’s not like they have to worry about their smile if they’re going out on a date or a job interview.

I think every prisoner should be granted the right to “financial reimbursement,” to the families of their victims by paying medical expenses or funeral costs. Every inmate should be made to reimburse a store owner for stolen property. Somehow, I don’t foresee inmates fighting for this right.

I must admit the article forced me to look at my floss in a whole new light. When I’m at the dentist and the hygienist flosses my teeth she unravels a strand of floss about 50 feet long. Why? How many teeth does she think I have? The amount of floss she uses could serve a third world country or better; break a prisoner out of jail.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve become diligent about good oral hygiene so that when I eat out I take along my floss. There have been times when I wanted to offer it to the people I was dining with. Only you can’t offer someone floss the way you would an after dinner mint. The only way to do so without some embarrassment on both parts is to pray that during dinner the cops come and haul him off to jail. You follow him to jail and once he’s behind bars you can throw him the floss and tell him, “That clam stuck between your top front teeth needs to come out. He’ll be grateful and exerting his right as he flosses.

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