It’s a dangerous business going out your front door. — J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
You know it’s going to be a rough morning when you get to the dentist office and the receptionist says, “So today we’re trying out a brand new, interning dental assistant, and you get to be her first patient.”
You know it’s going to be an even rougher morning, when that same dental assistant says aloud to herself, “Now, this Novocain is way more potent than you’ll need, but I can’t find the stuff I’m familiar with. You don’t mind being a little numb, do you?”
And before I can even respond, she answers her own question with: “Ah, what the heck.”
But I can tell you, now, as I sit here typing this, the right half of my face looking like the cartoon Droopy after he’s been in a retirement home for ten years, that “Yes. I do mind. I would prefer if you didn’t shoot the right side of my mouth full of a serum opposite to what goes into Tom Cruise’s forehead.”
However, when you’re in that chair—I don’t care if you’re an NBA star, a hedge fund manager, or Kim Jong Il—that dentist technician is god.
She says open your mouth wider, and you stretch your jaws till your bones pop. She accosts you for not flossing regularly, and your self-esteem is shot for the week. There is a certain power granted to a man or woman when you pay them to inflict you with discomfort and pain.
Now, I’m a once-a-day brusher. I like to purge my teeth at night so when I lay in bed, it’s like my teeth are bobsledding down the Alps as I read myself to sleep. And in the morning, any bad breath is usually remedied with food or a breath mint. But if you tell the dentist that you only brush once a day…
It’s like I did naked cartwheels across the sacred burial ground of their ancestors.
And once you tell them that you only brush once a day, I’m pretty sure they just start making up things about my teeth to prove a point.
“Oh, yeah, you’ve got some serious dental inflamatoryititis going on there.”
“Uh, huh. Well, have your teeth been recently used as the blades of a lawnmower that only cuts pennies and tin foil?”
“Yep. Your teeth suck.”
But it’s a necessary punishment that we all have to go through. Because one of the few things we hate more than feeling guilty for actions we personally failed to do, is having yellowy teeth and bad breath.
I can put up with a little self-chastisement to improve my odds with the ladies.
P.S. By the way, my dentist and even the new intern I had today, did a marvelous job. Though, considering the material they had to work, it would have been difficult to mess it up. Have you seen my smile?