Although a mere mailbox, I am, by dint of my size, well known in Greater Syracuse and beyond as the sentinel of the Rothenberg/TLC Dental practice at 7197 Highbridge Road, Fayetteville, New York. (tlcdentalgroup.com) I am as recognizable at my post as the Queen’s Guards are at Buckingham Palace. Indeed, I am celebrated, even coveted, by many who have come of age under my imposing presence.
Children are particularly smitten with me. Upon seeing my towering toothbrush, they implore their bus drivers to stop and allow them to marvel at my dimensions while wondering about the giants who surely live in the nearby building.
As the children age they often return to me in moments of revelry attired in creative fashions that are quickly and at times indiscreetly posted on Facebook and Twitter.
Passing travelers pull over for photos that I always welcome, unlike some of my fellow celebrities who treat camera toting fans like unsightly warts. Such ingrates! I frankly adore my fans. They view me as a dental version of the mighty Redwoods and love to pose in my shadow. As a consequence, I am a fixture in countless photo albums and web sites.
I am especially popular on Holidays when the Rothenberg’s dress me in seasonal costumes. On those occasions many of my faithful fans will stop by for a brief celebration with me.
Although only minutes from Wegman’s Plaza in Fayetteville, the TLC office enjoys a pastoral setting and every year my friends from our woods and fields gather to celebrate my birthday.
I also am something of a media darling, having been the subject of numerous newspaper articles and radio and television commentaries. In fact, I was a child star, the Shirley Temple of mail boxes. At a tender age I became a local sensation. I always indulged media requests and was particularly pleased when the cameras and pundits cast me in favorable light. And as the years have passed, I have assumed the patina of venerable Hollywood stars and become something of an icon.
But let me begin with the first chapter of my storied life. I sprang from the creative imagination of Dr. Rothenberg in 1990. However, it was not, I assure you, an easy birth.
First, my body parts had to be assembled.
My principal appendage, the toothbrush, consists of a stem or pole, 20 feet in length.
Attached to the top of the pole are brushes formed in a rectangle measuring 3 feet.
Affixed horizontally to the pole several feet below the brush is a tube of toothpaste that is 14 feet in length.
At the end of the tube is a slightly tapered cap, 2 feet in length.
Hanging below the toothpaste tube is a dental floss dispenser that serves as a mail receptacle. It is 5 feet square.
Lastly, two molars, roughly six feet square, are attached to the toothpaste tube directly above my dental floss dispenser. I might add that in animation circles they are known as the “Mighty Molars,” but that is a story for their web site not mine.
All told, the whole of me stands 14 feet high and weighs a good ton; an impressive body of work. Now you would think that I, along with Dr. Rothenberg and his wife Marsha, would be deserving of plaudits and a well earned rest after the ordeal of my birth. But that was not to be. My infancy proved to be more arduous than my conception. Indeed, Dickens could hardly have described a more harrowing experience than the peril that confronted me. Infanticide.
With a humongous mailbox hanging prominently from my toothpaste tube, any village idiot would recognize that the very essence of my being is to receive mail. Coddling letters, newspapers, packages, thank you notes, invitations, and less inviting bills is my calling in life and one for which I have a visibly cavernous appetite.
Alas, the acumen of a village idiot surpassed that of a former Code Enforcer of the local zoning board. Completely oblivious to my mailbox and to my obvious purpose, he contended that merely because Dr. Rothenberg’s name, like that of all gifted artists, was imprinted on his creation, I was a free standing sign. It was the height of lunacy. If the cretin had seen name tags on babies in a hospital ward, he would have called them little free standing signs.
I was naturally distraught by this calumny. How would you like to be called a free standing sign? However, I was infinitely more distressed by his ensuing mandate that I be promptly dismantled. He was not just a village idiot; he was a Biblical Herod run amuck.
Fortunately the Rothenberg’s contested these pernicious efforts to send me to a scrap yard. They vigorously defended my mailbox rights by bringing to Board meetings experts who refuted false charges made against me. A noted traffic consultant disputed the claim that I would be a traffic hazard by demonstrating that the opposite would be true. The charge that I would distress the neighbors was refuted by the neighbors themselves who expressed support for me.
I became a cause célèbre in the environs of Greater Syracuse. Journalists found stories and radio and television talking heads found inspiration in my plight.
“Stick to your gums, Dr. Rothenberg” exhorted Nancy Duffy of Channel 5.
“Will the town of Manlius extract the mailbox?” asked Todd and Amy on their radio show.
This brawl piqued the public’s interest and support. The steady flow of traffic on bustling Highbridge slowed to a crawl at my approach. School children cried at the thought of losing their beloved mailbox. Parents dried their tears by embracing my cause. Petitions to spare me were drafted, circulated and signed.
As support for our cause swelled from school children, parents, pundits, and the public at large, the specious claims of the former Code Enforcer began to crumble. In response to this clamor our petition was reviewed by the Zoning Board and was granted. Jubilation swept the city, my fear of infanticide was brought to a merciful end, and I began in earnest my many years of service.
In all of the time since my birth and early struggles, I have been faithful to my post and calling. In the heat of summer and the cold of winter I have unyieldingly held my ground; in snow, sleet, and driving rain, I have stoically stood watch for our patients. When appointments bring you to TLC, you will find me waiting to greet you at the entrance to our courtyard. If you are a new patient, you will find a warm welcome. If you are a longstanding patient, you will find an old friend.
After parking your car, I hope you will walk the short slope of the driveway to my appointed place. Stand beside me, share some kind words, and take a photo to mark the moment. And when you next return, you will find me, as always, serving as the faithful beacon of TLC and waiting to herald a friend.