The dentist’s office: from the young child to the aging octogenarian, everyone despises the dentist. There is no silver lining. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is only waiting, pain, and more waiting at the dentist’s office.
I walk in, sign the check in sheet, and take the one remaining seat in the waiting room. It is clear to me why this is the only seat left, as it is on a love seat that already has a man on one side of it. Not a normal, clean-cut, adult man, but a dinosaur, that’s likely a veteran of the First World War. And akin to WWI the chemical warfare coming out of this man’s butthole is incredibly lethal. Like socks cooking in a giant crock-pot of baked beans and sulfur. I don’t know why he is here, and to be honest, I’m surprised he has teeth left to be cleaned. Begrudgingly, I settle in and realize I’m probably going to need another shower today. And by another shower I mean another Fe-breeze misting of myself.
Alright, I’ll read some of these magazines to pass the time and distract me from the smelly war hero sitting next to me. A quick shuffle through of the collection reveals nothing except Highlights, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. So I can either pretend to be a child, learn about my sexual bucket list, or read eighty-five ways to please my man. After skimming all three it seems odd to find this collection of magazines that all seem to shed such a negative light on the use of teeth.
Finally, I get called into the office and have a seat in the future chair. The hygienist puts a bib on me and I realize that the only times I wear bibs are either really good or really bad. The dentist’s office being the horrible end of the spectrum, with a lobster dinner is on the opposite, mouth-orgasm end of the spectrum. In one scenario hard, pointy objects get jammed into my mouth, while on the contrary I’m packing my face hole with soft buttery goodness.
After re-reading, I realize Sigmund Freud would tear me apart had that last sentence come out of my mouth in a therapy session with him. Especially if I were eating a banana flavored popsicle at the time.
The opening act of the cleaning is nothing but a guilt trip. It is usually a long-winded diatribe from the hygienist about how awful I am at tooth upkeep, always including the ever-so-earnest lecture on flossing that I predictably ignore. These speeches always remind me of tear-fueled rants from ex-girlfriends that included, “If you can’t take care of your teeth, how could you ever take care of a child!” Fortunately, those tirades were never followed up with, “Because I’m preggers, Justin. And I am keeping it!”
Eventually the hygienist gets to the long and thankless chore of excavating layer after layer of plaque from my teeth. The dental hygienist has become a paleontologist, searching through level after level of dirt looking for the bones that are my teeth. When all of my teeth have resurfaced, she informs me I have one cavity. Like clockwork; they always find at least one cavity with me. Well, no, it’s not like clockwork. It’s more like an apathetic individual that never learns his lesson. The dentist comes in and gives it a second glance. They say they can fix it right now, so I give them the go ahead and she takes out the drill and starts grinding (not sexually, mind you) on that molar.
I have this fear, that I know is totally irrational, that every time that drill comes out I worry that it’s going to hit a nerve in my tooth, I’m going to scream, the hygienist will be startled, and the drill tip is going to hit me square in the pupil. Every time I’m there I think, “It’s happening today. Oh, yep, definitely today. Like ninety percent chance at least.” It never happens, but I assure you it will someday. And all the “I’m sorrys” in the world aren’t going to put my pupil back in place. I’m sorry, that’s just the way it’s going to go.
The dentist returns, makes uncomfortable small talk, and checks out the hygienist’s work. He notes that I’ve been grinding my teeth a lot, most likely at night, and asks if I have any stress in my life that could be causing this. I lean in close to him and disclose, “Between you and me, Doc. Grinding my teeth is the only thing keeping me from punching my wife in her stupid face everyday, you dig?” He nods. Just a little too understandingly I should add.
His last question for me is if I have any other pain in my teeth. I tell him I’ve had a little pang for a while, “but that pain goes away after I start drinking,” I add. “Come to think of it, all the pain in my life goes away after I start drinking.” He shakes his head and walk out of the room, clearly saddened.
On the way out the receptionist meets me. For whatever reason, the receptionist at my dentist has this attitude that she is better than everyone else. Just because you schedule appointments for the four people in this office doesn’t make you better than me, Rachel! Her job is to be nice. Perhaps I should tell her about the opportunities to be a galley-slave, human sacrifice, or other jobs where nobody cares if you’re being a sassy-pants.
I look at the schedule for a second. Yeah, I’m not going to know what I’m doing in six days let alone six months. I’ll call you back, Rachel.