(Note to self: Stop writing blog titles at 6 o'clock in the morning when I haven't been to sleep yet. I don't even know what day it is anymore...But I do know that I can feel my T-cells and I'm stealing Internet from a neighbor named "TheSituation." ANYWAY! Hi, just to reiterate quickly: GREEN = TULANE CHRIS. Not Ex Co-Blogger Chris. From now on. Are we cool? Cool. See you all tomorrow.)
I always operate in a weird time place when I write for this blog. Since my internet access is occasional at best, I write at home in the middle of the night when I have energy, wait until I have two or three post, and then when I’m at the office I email them to Meg to place as she sees fit. So, when I say “today, I went to the dentist and it ruined my entire day,” I mean Monday, May 17th was ruined, so hopefully by the time you read this I’ll be over the dentist and pissed off about something else.
In among the tampon samples and letters from my grandmother, our mail regularly includes something called the Money Mailer, which is an overly optimistic name for an envelope full of coupons. The coupons are seldom tempting. Aside from the discount Botox I mentioned before, the coupons fall into three classes:
Our Already Low Prices – Not a coupon, but a flyer, usually for an Asian restaurant of the Empress’ Jade Garden Gate variety.
We Know You Won’t Use It – Coupons for tiny savings that most people will feel uncomfortable using. 85 cents off an oil change if you wear red on a Tuesday, etc.
…What? – Coupons for actual saving on bizarre products. An alarming percentage of these are for cosmetic procedures, especially “free evaluations.” A coupon good for one “being called ugly.” PASS.
There’s also always a coupon for Johnny Rocket’s, which I won’t visit on principle. They make those poor waiters croon. Anyway, in among this crap last time, there was also a coupon for a discounted dental cleaning. Well, yee-ha. Ordinarily I would never, ever do such a thing, but I needed my teeth cleaned. Besides, the flyer said “Holistic/Natural Dentistry,” so I thought maybe they were hippie dentists and I’d get a blog post out of it.
The front window of the dentist’s office had a carousel horse in it, and I almost turned around and went home. I don’t agree with making doctors’ offices nice for children. You sit around in a nice, cozy room, looking at fish and reading Highlights for Kids (as a child I assumed there was a Highlights for Adults and was very eager to graduate to it), and get all calm. Then, the nurse gets you and takes you back and gives you a shot or whatever, and it’s a total shock. You know how if you put fish immediately in the tank they die from the temperature shock, so you have to put them in the tank still in the bag from the store and let them acclimate? Waiting rooms should be ominous so they serve the same function as the bag and it’s not as traumatic.
I went in anyway, and got my forms. Those forms are so invasive. I don’t think they need to know my work phone number. Are they going to call in for me if I die? “This is Dr. Scrivello’s office. Chris won’t be in, ever again. We’re supposed to tell…Brendan? Brandon? Brenda, maybe? that he loves him, we thought maybe that was a work thing?” I also don’t think they need to know if I have any mental illness. If I’m sane enough to make an appointment and show up, that should be good enough for them.
I give them my forms and get called, and I go on back to the room. The first thing I see is a chart of What Might Happen if You Don’t Brush Enough. One of the options is “Surgery” and features a big old picture of an incised gum, bleeding away, just as big as life. WHY? I’m already here. I don’t need to be frightened into coming to the dentist. If they stood outside with a sandwich board and flyers, like Jehovah’s Witnesses at the bus stop, it would make a certain amount of sense – it would be awful, but it would make sense.
The hygienist tried to make small talk with me about hockey, which was a dud. For me, hockey is the low-scoring boredom of soccer, but with dressed and padded Canadian men instead of shorts-clad Brazilian men. Fail. The dentist tried to make small talk with me on account of we both have red hair, which was a dud. “Oh, you sunburn easily too?”
Prodding and scolding commenced. Yes, I know I have four years’ worth of plaque built up, which has a lot to do with not having had dental insurance for four years. Who the hell did you think would show up at the dentist’s office with a coupon? So, after showing me another diagram about what happens to your teeth, they upsold me into getting something called a “gross debridement,” which annoyed me. I’m an adult. If you need to scrape crap out of my gums with a sharp hook that squirts water, tell me. I can take it, and I think $300 should buy me a little straight talk. I would much rather hear “water-hook crap-scrape” than “gross debridement,” which my friend Kathryn said “sounded like a wedding night mishap.”
So, the hygienist is scraping away with bolt cutters and chain mail and all those damn tools, and I’m watching a generic action movie on a TV they’ve thoughtfully placed where the patients can see it. It was one of those nineties movies where Nicolas Cage is a retired dyslexic air marshal turned senator who gets caught up in a conspiracy and It Turns Out The President Is Involved, and there’s a shootout near a national monument. Shit’s blowing up, people are running…
“Does that hurt?”
“Mrrg.” Yes, it hurts, you’re scraping crap out of my gums with a hook that shoots water, but get it over with so the crap will be out of my gums.
“Yeah, this is a little inflamed. See, it’s bleeding,” and she SHOWS ME THE BLOODY HOOK.
“Mrrg.” Thank God her other hand was still in my mouth so all I could do was grunt, because I don’t know what I would have said. I’ve seen blood and I’ve seen hooks, I could have done the math myself. Surgeons don’t do this. You don’t go in for a follow-up and they slap your gall bladder on the counter like a steak on a grill and say, “Yeah, this was pretty fucked up. Here, feel this cyst.”
So, in the wake of Bloodhook, I start remembering a scary story I’d read in a collection literally two days before. A man went to the dentist who numbed his face and kept doing stuff, and eventually it turns out it wasn’t the dentist but a lunatic who horribly disfigured him while he couldn’t feel it.
“Actually, your teeth look pretty good.” She clearly thought I did not deserve to have teeth that looked good. She finished up, and tried to sell me mouthwash and a waterpik.
“This mouthwash is herbal. Do you like herbs?”
Do I like herbs? If I said no, I sounded like a liar – who really has a beef with herbs? – but if I said yes I’d be out $40 for Chervil/Tarragon Mouthwash. I mumbled something, and looked at the paper she was handing me, which was about how nutrition affects the teeth and gums, with a checklist of what nutrients you might need. They didn’t check any off for me, but I noticed that one option you could check was “Colon Cleanse.” Oh, I’m sorry. You think it’s possible that I am so constipated, so full of feces that it’s affecting my oral health? (This, of course, reminded me of Meg’s Colon Cleanse gift.) Is this the default assumption now? “Honestly, Tulane Chris, we don’t know what the problem is. Why don’t you go home and defecate as much as you can and see if that clears it up?” Is this just going to be happening from now on? IS the pharmacist going to stop giving me ADHD medicine and give me FiberCon instead, because “no one can concentrate with an uncleansed colon?” If I travel abroad, before reentry will I have to wait a day at the airport and cleanse my colon of any potential enemies, foreign or domestic? Are they going to redo all the old “Popeye” cartoons now, so that instead of spinach making his muscles grow it makes him have regular, satisfying, evil-thwarting bowel movements?
I went out to the front, where the dentist said, “How did your cleaning go?” I said, “Oh, it was just fine,” like an android, and then the dentist and hygienist proceeded to talk about “pocketing” and schedule me for a follow-up, which is the ultimate humiliation. Nice people don’t have to go to follow-ups at the dentist because they brush and floss and pray and sweep and cleanse their colons. I felt like I disgusted them.
Anyway. I’d love to write more but I have to brush, floss, and rinse my teeth. Then I’m going to turn off my cell phone, lock the door, and take a double dose of Colon Cleanse. By tomorrow, all my troubles will be far away – or at least in the Schuylkill River.