“Dentists tell you not to pick your teeth with any sharp metal object. Then you sit in their chair… and the first thing they grab is an iron hook.” —Bill Cosby
This morning I informed my coworkers I had a dental appointment. Not a mere cleaning, a crown. I am a novice when it comes to dental work, however, realize it means undergoing some unpleasantness.
Turns out the more appropriate noun is demolition.
Dennis whose mouth’s interior is plagued by pewter and gold finery tells me last night over dinner, “He won’t drill.”
Sweet guy, he was trying to spare me the grief.
I’m in the chair. My dentist casually opens with: “so how many kids do you have now? Five?”
I tell him I don’t have any kids.
He says, “You look like you do.”
This is the kind of talk that drove my mother to change dentists. He told her he reminded him of his mother-in-law.
Needles, molds and sinister implements that don’t belong anywhere near one’s mouth. They move in and out of my periphery, in and out my oral cavity for an hour and half. He’s mining California gold with pick and shovel; using a pry bar to rid of stubborn enamel. A large scale excavation. There’s smoke and fire, tooth dust in my eyes.
Nothing short of harrowing, I am yelling for help so loud in my head interplanetary satellites pick up on it.
He acknowledges my time out gestures, my arms have grown weak by expending the effort. I mumble through the wadded up gauze, “You gonna leave anything in there, doc?”
He puts in a temporary crown. I tell him if it falls out over Christmas, I’m going to show up at his estate in Sudbury. He says he won’t be home.
There is a great line that I always think of, even before this particular procedure, that makes me laugh. Kathleen Turner playing Peggy Sue in Peggy Sue Got Married says to her grandfather: “Grandpa, if you had a chance to go back and do it all differently, what would you have changed?”
He answers, “I would have taken better care of my teeth.”
I leave the office traumatized and quivering, stop in at Whole Paycheck for my favorite authentic Yorkshire tea. The young kid that checks me out says, “All kinds of Brits come in for this tea. They say it’s the real thing.”
I wipe the drool from my chin, my lip has the texture of an earthworm, say, “English people say their tea should be strong enough for a mouse to trot on.”
“You mean, so the critters are able to stand on the tea leaves?”
Bits of fuchsia-colored mold paste flakes off my cheek to my jacket. “No, no,” I stammer. “It means they like their tea robust, as in strong.”
“Oh, you mean so mice won’t drink it?”
“Yeah, that’s it,” I tell him, staring at his perfect teeth.
Lisa Mae DeMasi lives in Natick, Massachusetts with her partner Dennis and a fluctuating number of animal companions–some live with them full time, some are fostered, some board. This animal husbandry is a compulsion, saving just one more neglected cute and furry creature warms her heart. Dennis loves them too; the landlord is exceedingly tolerant. Her mother thinks she’s nuts. Lisa is also a blogger and avid writer, her work has been published in Shark Reef Literary Magazine, HuffPost and Elephant Journal. She considers Massachusetts her home, but has lived in Connecticut, Vermont, New York State and two other planets called Wyoming and Arizona. She earned a B.A. from Regis College and an MBA from Babson College, and possesses over 20 years working in administrative support roles in small Boston consultancies. She also holds a Master certificate in Reiki and practices this form of holistic healing on the animals in which she cares for.