Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dental Revenge

“Have a seat, honey” the dental hygienist said to me. “We’ll get that old childhood filling replaced for you, and then you’ll be on your way. Can I get you anything else?”

I nervously paused and then buried my pride. I blurted out my request. “Can I have the gas today?”

I could feel a cool chill immediately rush through the room which was surprising, given my flushed, warm and embarrassed face. My status in the dental world had plummeted. I couldn’t look her in the eye but I could feel her scanning me. She searched for a clue that would tell her if I was more likely to be a super dental wimp or a well disguised, pill popping, suburban mom looking for a free high.

The hygenist must have decided I had the dental bravery of a 4 year old weenie boy. I was ok with that. She gave me a look of pity and patted me on the shoulder. “Oh, yes, of course. Certainly sweetie. We’ll get that started right away for you. Don’t you worry about a thing. Now, would you like to watch some TV?” She turned the TV to my requested channel, the Food Network, and lowered the ugly, space age looking, rubber nose, gas delivery system onto my face.

I always get a bit of a chuckle when my dental appointments occur right before mealtimes, as this one did. While the hungry and captive dentist and his assistant pound away at my mouth, making my life miserable, I get to have a bit of dental revenge by forcing them to listen to “mouthwatering and unbelieveable” food being made on the Food Network. Eventually the dentist’s stomach will growl and he’ll say, “Oh, that looks so good. I’m sooo hungry.” And I feel just a little bit better knowing he’s a little bit miserable, like me.

As I was attempting to quietly inhale as much relaxing gas as I could, the dentist began shooting my tooth with a needle full of “pressure”. This uncomfortable “pressure” hurt a lot. The hygienist saw my toes curl. She offered to turn up the gas. I was ok with that. “Now don’t you worry about one little thing here, ok?” the dentist calmly cooed to me. “You are doing just super great. You are being soooo brave. We are going to take very good care of you today. You just stay nice and relaxed in this chair and things will be just fine. There is not one little thing for you to worry about.”

Clearly, the dentist had seen the gas and my curling toes and had decided I was a big dental weenie risk, possibly prone to unpredictable and most problematic dental chair outbursts. I was ok with that. The gas had kicked in, I was quite relaxed now and the hungry dentist was forced to listen to the Food Network while I lolled about in my happy place. Things were as good as they were going to get.

And then the dentist went to work, both on my tooth and on my stomach. He leaned my chair back so far that I couldn’t see the TV anymore. And his drill was so loud that I couldn’t hear the TV anymore. But apparently he could still see and hear the TV. “Oh, that Food Network is making me so hungry!” he said. My mouth opened a tiny bit wider and the edges turned upward as I chuckled silently to myself. My Food Network revenge had worked. It seemed, however, that by opening my mouth a bit wider I had angered the hungry dentist. He proceeded to jam what felt like a large rubber shoe into my mouth, “just to make sure your mouth stays open”. I was not ok with that.

The hungry dentist then continued to make life worse for me. “All that good food on TV reminds me of the most amazing pizza I had last night.” He then proceeded to describe his last pizza in a way that had the tiniest bit of impish suggestiveness thrown in. Or maybe it was the gas that made me think that. Apparently, his pizza crust had just the right amount of crispy and just the right amount of chewy. It was not too thick and not too thin. The toppings he described were all of my favorites. And the hot and melted and gooey cheese not only consisted of mozzarella but a bit of fontina and smoked provolone as well, which, according to the dentist, put his pizza over the top. And of course, it had been baked in a hot, very hot, brick pizza oven. The hungry dentist then finished his story with an adjective dripping description of the creamiest, most extraordinary, full fat, imported ice cream that was his dessert that same night. In total, it was the most phenomenal and delicious meal he had ever had.

When he was done, I half expected him to pull out a cigarette and ask me if it was good for me to.

Or maybe it was just the gas that made me think that.

I squirmed in the chair and took a super deep breath, inhaling the gas as deeply as I could with a rubber shoe in my mouth.

I was now starving. Or at least that was what I kept thinking to myself. I felt my stomach rumble a bit. Quite a bit. I was not ok with that. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I wondered, a bit desperately, if my gas was still working. I wasn’t feeling very relaxed anymore. I wasn’t feeling the airy, careless satisfaction of my usual dental revenge. I was feeling hungry. I may have been unable to see or hear the Food Network, but my dentist’s food torture was coming through loud and clear. My stomach then let out one of those huge, embarrassing “I can’t believe that came from my stomach! (I hope that came from your stomach.)” kind of roars. The dentist chuckled a bit which was quite easy for him to do, not having any “pressure” injected into his teeth or any large rubber shoe stuck in his mouth. “Oh, I’m sorry”, he laughed. “Is my pizza and ice cream story making you hungry?”

You’re darned right it is, you evil man, I screamed in my head. What kind of person talks about food, like that, in a dentist's office, right before lunch when a kind, innocent, insurance covered patient like me is drugged, trapped in this chair and forced to listen to whatever he says? It’s just not right. Who would do such a cruel thing?

As soon as that evil dentist was finished with me I rushed out to my car, still a bit lightheaded. I needed to get some pizza, and fast. I gave no thought to the fact that I might be driving while still slightly gassed. I had more pressing pizza issues to attend to. A Lean Cuisine from the grocery store would be my quick fix. As I backed my car out of the parking spot, I caught my reflection in the rear view mirror. My entire, red and blotchy face was covered in deep crevices from the ugly, space age looking, rubber nose, gas delivery system that had sat molded to my face for the last hour. My messy, laying down hair, looked like an unkempt bird’s nest. One side of my face was swollen and drooping. And I was not ok with that. I couldn’t be seen in public looking like this. There would be no pizza for me.

Half an hour later, I sat at my dining room table eating overcooked pasta with butter and salt. I was a bit lightheaded, a fair bit swollen and still covered in deep gas mask wrinkles. I could only chew on one side of my mouth. I think I kept biting my half numb tongue. I turned on the TV to PBS.

“Today, on America’s Test Kitchen,…the best pizza you’ve ever had!”

I was not ok with that.

Check This Out!

I’ve just finished reading the book Honeymoon With My Brother by Franz Wisner. Dumped by his fiancĂ© and left with an unrefundable honeymoon to Costa Rica, Franz decided to take his brother on the trip, minus the carrying over the threshold stuff. Soon Franz and his brother Kurt abandon their successful United States lives and embark on a two year, around the world adventure that changes both their lives and just might change yours. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

I must also recommend the video Hard Rock Treasures: A Behind the Scenes Look at Rock-n-Roll Royalty and Their Most Prized Possessions. Don Bernstein’s job is to hang out with the greatest rock legends of all time….and then convince them to let him take their stuff back to the Hard Rock CafĂ© restaurants and hotels. Tough job. Great music and memories.

Oh, also…the obsessive songs of the week are Devour by Shinedown and Something Beautiful by the Newsboys. Check it out.