Monday, November 13, 2006

you have a talent for causing things pain

I remember it as if it were last week...

I had a dentist appointment last week, and, even worse, it was my first time at this particular practice. I was happy with our last dentist, but, after hearing the rumors of malpractice, unnecessary work, virgin sacrifice, and general ineptitude, my wife insisted we change dentists. And who am I to disagree?

I got to the waiting room and suffered through the normal 378 page bundle of paperwork...although I'm still not completely sure why they need my power of attorney or the dna swab. From that point on, I just had to brave the 37.9 degree waiting room until the albino nurse with the raspy voice called my name. While waiting, I got into a minor scuffle with one other patron, the homeless man wrapped up intermittently in toilet paper who kept muttering under his breath, but other than that, the time passed as well as could be expected.

When the nurse called my name, I went to the back, stripped down to my socks, and tied on the pink leather apron as they requested. They took me to what they called "waiting room aleph cerebro" and had me gargle with mouthwash...I had my choice between spearmint or hero's bile flavors. Then, after the nurse removed the ice packs from the dentist's chair, I sat down, they stuck an IV of some luminescent green fluid into my arm, and the nurse told me that someone would be with me shortly.

The dental hygenist came in after an hour or so...she's one of those super perky types (as hygenists seem to be), and she seemed to know her stuff, but I could've really done without the random bouts of maniacal laughter. She tried to make small talk, but I've always found it difficult to respond when I have a few dozen tools lodged in my mouth. She then propositioned me, and after I told her that I was married, she instead tried to sell me some tooth-whitening product...she said that her bosses make her suggestively sell a variety of products. The hygenist then started the cleaning.

After she finished her scraping and chiseling, the dentist himself came in. Like most dentists, he looked like a cross between Don Knotts and Josef Mengele. After taking about five minutes to stroke my hair, he poked around my teeth for a while before saying the words that every person over 5'7" dreads: "We need to schedule you for a filling."

Even as I sit here in my office and try to find ways to avoid work, the very thought fills me with a slight panic. I start to go over my list of sins to try and figure out what I did to deserve this, but alas, I continue to draw a blank. How could this happen to me?

I've never had a cavity before. Even as a kid, my teeth were very strong, strong enough that my father would use them to loosen tight bolts whenever he worked on the 1976 Plymouth Scamp. And I never really took care of them, much to the chagrin of my siblings, both of whom had so many cavities that they were fitted with dentures in fourth grade...all this in spite of them brushing eleven times a day to my monthly brushings. Yes, I had always been blessed with wonderful teeth.

No longer. I finally have a cavity. And while I realize that most of my friends have had cavities, and that they seem to deal with the stigma and shame, I had always pictured a better life for myself.

I think of the things which, now that I have a cavity, I can no longer do. I will now never be chief justice of the Nebraska supreme court. I will never have my own Playboy column. I will never be allowed to shake hands with the President. I will never be the star of my own video game. And I will never be an astronaut.

This must be how the rest of you feel.

I have the filling scheduled for this Friday. I don't know what I'm going to do during this, my last week of freedom. I might write a play. I might smoke a cigar. I might try to break my own record for jars of honey eaten at one sitting.

I know I should try to enjoy myself, but it's hard, when everything reminds you of the fact that fillings are imminent. I hear the construction workers drilling outside my office, and I think of the drilling which I'll soon have to undergo. I see my department secretaries in their scrubs and masks, and I think of the hygenists. I see my students, and I think of the dentist, living only to inflict pain on others.

If you see me on the streets and I'm crying, please try to understand that I'm going through a rough time in my life.


Roo from said...

1. The amount of exaggerating in your post makes me wonder if I wrote it in my sleep and forgot about it.

2. I know exactly how you feel about the filling, but you'll survive. I promise. I was proud of myself for never having a cavity, and then I got the devastating news when I was 21. But my cavity was so small that the dentist actually waited 7 months to fill it. (We had to wait until the next time I came back from college.) And even then, the drilling was so minor that I didn't get novacaine. I've also had a fake tooth put on, which required novacaine. Nothing scared me more than a needle in the gum. But just get some of that fun gas, and you'll be fine. I promise.

dr alex said...

people will pay you to be inhumane!