She slid from the room and returned with the dentist. Without a word, my mouth was pried open and mirrors and tapping tools inserted.
“Hmmmm,” the doctor confirmed.
“Wha?” I said through the fingers and stainless steel tools. “Wha’s wron?”
“You have a cracked tooth. Doesn’t it hurt?”
“How about now?”
“This will only take a minute and there won’t be any pain.”
Twenty years ago, notwithstanding that my teeth were well on their way to hillbilly choppers, Husband agreed to marry me, on the condition I visit his dentist every six months without fail.
“Why didn’t you just brush your teeth after meals?” he asked with the innocence of a well-raised child.
For one, I grew up in a house with nine people and one bathroom. I was lucky to get to pee once a day.
While my brothers and sister participated in the mandatory afternoon nap, Little Miss Goody-Two-Shoes (my sibling nickname) clambered up to the top shelf in the kitchen to steal the sweet treat we received for taking a nap. On my tiptoes, I stretched up to the one surviving bowl from my mother’s wedding china and I dipped my hand in. Sometimes I pulled out a Tootsie Pop, my nose twitching as I caught the cherry scent. Other times a sleeve of ‘Nilla Wafers.
Like a starving chimpanzee, I stuffed the delectable treat into my mouth while I scrambled down. Upon awakening from my nap I received a second goodie.
My poor teeth got hit from both sides of the gene pool. My sweet tooth developed in my mother’s womb, requiring her to consume a Baby Ruth candy bar every day of her pregnancy. Dad’s sweet tooth was legendary. One Easter, an all out war was declared when my sister’s treasured chocolate bunny appeared with one less ear. While the seven of us kids (yes, for those of you keeping track, good catch! There are eight kids, but the baby in the group had yet to be born) tried to rip each other limb from limb, Dad sat in the corner with a Cheshire-cat grin.
But, Dad was far from safe on my sweet sweeps through the house. I found and pillaged boxes of candy from his closet, sodas hidden in his lunch box and gum from the glove compartment of his car. Somewhere around my tenth birthday I tore the house apart and found nothing. I enlisted my younger brother Larry who, I was certain if the stash was found, I could easily swipe his share. We came up empty handed and thereafter Dad’s stash was safe from Miss Goody-Two-Shoes.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I found his genius hiding place: the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator. No kid in our family would EVER look there.
When my toothaches became unbearable, Mom drove me to the wrong side of town to take me to a “dentist.” He’d pry my mouth open and I swear, try to see if his entire grizzled head would fit inside. “Hmmmm”, he’d diagnose with the stub of his recently smoked cigar firmly clamped between his not-so-pearly whites.
“When I grow up,” I swore, “I’m never going to the dentist again!”
It’s amazing what someone you love can convince you to do. I’ve fulfilled Husband’s request, visiting the dentist regularly for countless root canals and more fillings. Somewhere in the tenth or twelfth year of our marriage, my teeth came to be in great shape.
Well, good shape.
Okay, let’s just say I still have all my teeth.
Here I am, upside down in the fully reclined dentist’s chair pleading for a postponement of treatment. With the fingers and tools finally removed, I began my defense. “But, a person can’t just DO something like this on the spur of the moment.”
“Sure we can.” The son of Husband’s previous dentist assured me.
“But, I can’t do it right now – I need to mentally prepare.”
“I’m going to give you a shot to numb you up and it will all be over before you know it.”
“Bhu…” The smell of metal and latex gloves smothered me.
“Now, this may sting a little.”
Blinding, white-hot pain shot through my jaw. I gripped the arms of the chair and felt a tear run down my cheek. The instrument of torture was removed but before I could catch my breath in it went again. My back arched, my eyes bulged and I shouted. “HOLY THIT THAT HURTH!”
The doctor tsk-tsked and removed the agony-causing needle from my mouth.
“What the hell?” I demanded. “You said that was going to hurt a little.” I wiped at a line of drool already escaping from my almost paralyzed mouth. That hurt A LOH. A HEHH OF A HOT!
He smiled a patronizing smile and moved to the next patient where, over the sound of the Muzak version of Chain of Fools, I heard him diagnose, “Hmmmm.”
The dental assistant returned and said “When would like to schedule your next appointment?”
“How abou when Hehh fwezzes over???”