That’s what I was thinking in the dentist’s chair this morning. I had implements in my mouth, was numb and there was a lot of racket going on. Occasionally I’d wince in pain and of course there was always the anticipation of perhaps more pain to come. One never knows.
It all started on the first day of my recent two week vacation when I was enjoying some popcorn while watching a movie. Oldest daughter had warned me that there was something a bit off about the popcorn (she had made it) but it was passable so I was munching away. Suddenly something was amiss. It wasn’t so much pain as it was the feeling that something was not quite right on the lower right side of my mouth. I’d broken a tooth. On a popcorn kernel. There was no pain, assuming I did all my chewing on the other side of my mouth. I was able to get into the dentist two days later and a temporary was put in. Today I got measured for a new crown. It was an hour of fun.
There’s a certain surrender that takes place in the dentist’s chair. Your mouth is wide open, you are half sitting half laying and totally helpless. The dentist is in complete control and she can do anything she damn well pleases. For all you know you could be murdered or made giddy although the most realistic outcomes are some pain and discomfort. Whatever it is you’ve got no say in the matter. You have to trust that the person with all the sharp tools is not going to do you harm. I have a fantastic dentist who I trust completely, but I’d still rather avoid being in that chair. I had a colonoscopy and was put into a half sleep yet felt more in control than I do sprawled out on a dentists chair with a full construction job going on in my open yap.
I have a pretty high pain threshold. A background playing sports helps. But I’m as nervous and fearful in a dentist chair as a five year old. I attribute this to the horrible husband and wife team who were my dentists when I was a lad. They were better suited to be butchers. By comparison the Marquis De Sade was a massage therapist. The Thompsons were also a decidedly ugly couple and each had — and this is unpardonable — the breath of a garlic loving rhino. They were forever shaking me as punishment for moving as they were practicing their delicate form of torture and when I did manage to sit still would continually say “that’s a good boy, that’s such a good boy.” I hated these people behind any measure yet was compelled to see them regularly due to my constant consumption of candy and my steady diet of sodas. I suspect they're no longer alive and would assume that if there is an afterlife they occupy a room in the netherworld.
It is only since I stopped drinking alcohol and soda that I have been cavity free. I believe it’s been 20 years since I needed a filling. In any event a visit to the dentist is both rare and utterly unterrifying. It’s more just a nuisance. As I write this my mouth is still a bit numb. When I got home the missus said I looked liked a stroke victim. She's got a way with words that one. I get to go back to the dentists in two week for the crown.
Because of one goddamned little unpopped kernel of popcorn.