Originally, I was going to describe my trip to the dentist. Then I thought, how dull! Why would anyone want to read about that? There is nothing vaguely amusing, or scary, about a cracked molar. Stuff like that happens all the time. And apart from the resulting toothache that prompted the visit, the episode overall wasn’t all that painful. However, as this storyteller recently discovered, drama is as much about perspective as it is about presentation and content…and pretending you’re someplace you’re not. So relax and enjoy the visit. I promise, you won’t feel a thing.
Seeing a dentist is actually one of the few ordeals in life that don’t intimidate me. There are far worse trials, far as I’m concerned, than having my teeth worked on. For example, I’d rather undergo a root canal any day, even an extraction, than to balance myself on a ladder. Heights terrify me. Of course, if it’s a tossup between climbing a ladder and making a phone call, I’d opt for the ladder in a heartbeat. Tells you how I feel about phones.
A needle syringe is something else that doesn’t unnerve me the way it does other people. What’s with some of the patients on those medical emergency shows? You see a guy whose arm was mangled in a mulcher, cradling his bloody appendage. The ER nurse tries to administer a tetanus shot, and he recoils in horror. “Please, no needles! I despise needles!” I’m thinking: Get real, fella! Your arm has just been ground into hamburger, and you’re afraid of one skinny little needle??? Compared to that, an injection is barely a kiss!
Again, it all boils down to perspective. In my time, I’ve had doctors stick needles in my gums, needles in both my eyes, needles in fresh wounds, needles in places I’d rather not talk about. Does having my flesh punctured provoke fits of hilarity? Hardly. BUT…it beats swabbing public latrines. Or watching reruns of “Gomer Pyle.” Or pretending I’m overjoyed to receive a call from someone I don’t feel like talking to. (I really do hate phones!)
That’s not to imply that sitting in the dentist’s chair all afternoon was fun. I’d have preferred my comfy recliner at home. Also, the experience would have been more diverting had the dental assistant assigned to me worn an alluring fragrance, or whispered sweet, semi-audible nothings in my ear while she shoved gauze and hardware down my throat. I could go on about her, but probably shouldn’t, seeing how she might read this piece in FT and take offense at my remarks. Not cool! Generally speaking, women who stick sharp tools and junk into people’s mouths for a living should NOT be insulted or trifled with. A man could lose more than a tooth that way. (Bear with me; this is the happy gas speaking.)
My root canal would certainly have been more profitable had the dentist PAID me to keep my jaw propped open for two hours at a stretch, gagging and choking back my spit and boring myself into a funk, instead of billing me for the visit. But who’s complaining? In exchange for my courage and good humor during the procedure, I received my very first crown! I could almost hear “Pomp and Circumstance” blaring through the office vents, throngs of devoted subjects cheering me on, chanting my name. I envisioned men on horseback, jugglers, clowns and brightly attired ladies somersaulting down the boulevard; floats, fireworks, marching bands, and banners bearing my image. (I do so LOVE that gas!) The fantasy gave me such a rush, I hurried home and busted a second tooth so I could start the entire process again!
There was only one problem about making another appointment. It involved using my old nemesis, the telephone. UGH! At first, I was going to have my wife make the call for me, like she usually does. Then I remembered: Hey, I’m royalty now! A king doesn’t let his queen fight his battles. Besides, I’d win more bravery points if I performed the odious deed myself this time—not to mention a second crown. Wouldn’t Jann be proud!
So this big boy girded himself and made the dreaded call. Everything else was gravy.