I’m upside down. Tennis shoes that I really mean to wash some day are pointed toward Oprah crying personably into an immaculate handkerchief on a three inch television attached to bolts in the ceiling. A dentist, a technician, and judging from the smell someone I’m pretty sure is a pizza delivery man, are running gloved hands around my gums.
I haven’t had this much attention paid to my mouth since I swallowed the paperboy’s change when I was five. Just now I’m concerned that if the attention shifts to the area it did back then, the dentist will pull an $800 dental crown out of my. . .anatomy.
Right. I haven’t been this relaxed since I heard my obstetrician say “Hand me the knife” just before I drifted off to sleep in the delivery room. If this visit ends up like that one, somebody’s going to have to change my diaper.
At last we were venturing into my area of expertise. I complied with gusto.
“Whoa!” the dentist rolled off the mangled glove and a perky assistant snapped on a new one. “I said bite, not feeding frenzy.”
I drew a breath.
Have you ever noticed that dentists shove something in your mouth when they suspect you’re about to say something clever?
“Bite down carefully.”
I cracked one eye open. The entire staff was crowded behind a section of yellow tape that read, “Police lines. Do not cross.” The hygienist appeared to be praying, an assistant was carving another notch into her sterile tools tray, and the dentist was Googling “thumb replacements” on the scheduling computer. Two young women in HazMat suits were drawing straws.
It’s not that I’m uncomfortable in the dentist chair. Normally I’m all about letting a man with a power drill crowd in close enough to my face to twirl my lips around the drill bit like spaghetti on a dinner fork. I’m just stressed by the fact that Oprah is on the tiny TV and I can’t hear how to make a proper Bloody Mary over the cries of the dentist.
And it’s not that I’m afraid of the dentist, like a small child with a bad dream. Actually I’m terrified, like an adult fearing the zombie apocalypse, but I thought I was cleverly concealing that fact until I realized the reason the doctor rescheduled my appointment is that he was meeting with his insurance representative to overhaul his death and dismemberment policy.
The whole thing played out like a reality TV show. Team Bravo charged in and repaired my bridge while Team Coward held back to comb the office for an Immunity Idol. I triumphed by forming an alliance with the pizza delivery man.
I think we all won. The dentist got to file an attractive claim with my insurance company, the office employees got combat experience, and I spent the rest of the evening munching on a meatlover’s special pizza with my new teeth.