Gather round, kids, whilst I relate this little tale of my day:
It all starts at the mysterious & wondrous instrument- & doohickey-filled place known as the DENTIST’S OFFICE…
I arrive a few minutes early – HOORAY!… as usually I’m tardy. I approach the receptionist’s desk with a little apprehension. My regular hygienist has been on a leave since having her baby last year. My last visit involved a less-than-gentle gal who seemed to be right outta Bedside Manner 101.. or mayhap she’d flunked BM102… Imagine my surprise when I learned she is actually old hat! Old hack more like! Cindy greets me with a friendly hello… a disarmingly friendly hello… I do not notice my arch nemesis behind her, lurking, waiting. Ok, really, she was doing paperwork, but still…. She turns around to say she’s ready for me. I recognize the face, my hopes shatter and my face falls. I can come right in. yay
Shoulders slightly sagged in resignation, I open the door. She introduces herself: Maryanne. We’d met, but I’d forgotten her name… not that I EVER will now! She appears to have forgotten our last ‘session’… ***as I’m on my way to lunch break to continue this story, I remember Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors’ “You’ll Be a Dentist”… REALLY FITS!*****
She indicates the room, I breathe in its sterile, neutral tones. Here’s the thing you have to understand about me: I’m actually usually RELAXED when I visit the dentist. In fact, having my teeth cleaned, listening to ‘soft rock’ usually lulls me into a half sleep. I stay awake only because I have to keep my mouth open so darned wide. But, it’s like hypnosis, soothing effect, and usually, I just zone out, peacefully – happily, almost! I’m weird, I know – but if you haven’t figured that out yet, you either haven’t met me, talked to me, or read my other offerings. In which case, you may want to rectify that!…
but, back to our regularly scheduled story:
So, I glide to the comfy recliner, and settle in. There’s a weird moment as she walks up with the bib – a bit of a head bob trying to figure out where she’s going with it. Bib attached at last, I lean back. She begins to unwrap the ‘instruments’ – a process which seems to take forever. I hear the painfully slow crackle of each plastic wrapper as she opens the bevy of tools at her disposal. I refamiliarize myself with the room, as it’s been a few months. Yep, crate of toys on the floor… Norman Rockwell print on the wall. A wonderful window right in front of me.. and, of course, the continuous sounds of lite rock softly flowing through the auditory air. I begin to breathe again, and the magic of the office begins to take hold.
Meanwhile, Maryanne has taken a moment to glance over my chart, confirming that I’m just in for a cleaning. Much to her surprise, she notes that she worked on me last time… DUH!
She makes a crack that she must’ve been there for a long time as she now has repeat clients… Then, she admits that upon seeing my work shirt, she almost said that she had another client who worked at WF… which, of course, was just me! See, kids, being a Psycho isn’t all cool!!!
Finally, she settles in next to me, and begins her life’s work, her passion, her professional sadism, my ordeal. I brace myself, hands ready to grasp the armrests, open my mouth wide & close my eyes. Breathing….breathing…..waiting for the inevitable wince & cringe from pain.
Her first movements are deft and skillful, as she traces near the gum line, searching for the dreaded plaque. I can imagine her furrowed brow, as she finds some particularly populated areas. I feel the extra force as she digs in.
And, now to the dreaded ‘between the teeth’. Here, the fun begins. I feel the hooks wrenching at my gums, periodically stabbing, pulling the soft tissue. I begin to taste the blood and know she has found her groove. She continues to scrape and saw in her demented zeal, my hands holding the armrests, occasionally grasping….and gasping.
For some reason, Maryann has an aversion to using the suction tube. Mayhap she likes to see her handiwork. Periodically, she takes a wad of gauze and swipes it across my teeth and gums, with a flair of gusto. I particularly enjoy the invasion of her latex gloves as she shoves them throughout my mouth to sop up every bit of carnage and drool.
After one such sweep, she pulls her hands away, and I feel a line of wetness fall upon my cheek. Is it saliva? Blood? She appears not to notice, and it just SITS THERE!!! I imagine a bright red line standing out against my stark white skin. She continues her prodding & poking. I ready myself for the moment she gets to my sensitive tooth – even Caroline’s gentle movements cause an angry shooting pain there. I try to stay away from iced beverages without a straw, brush my teeth with warm or hot water – just to avoid this discomfort. And, here is Mauling Maryann, so close to this vulnerable area. To make matters worse, her meanderings across my gum line has revealed another 3 possible sensitive spots. Were they there before, or newly created? I silently curse with each new bolt. Fortunately, my worst spot isn’t too badly assaulted, and I can relax my grip a little.
With each pause, I silently pray that it’s dental floss time. Every time she leans over me to the instrument table, I hope that her hands will be entwining waxed string. This would mean the ordeal is nearly over, and that the gentle polishing stage would soon occur. That’s the pattern I’ve come to expect – scrape, floss, polish. Imagine my surprise when she walks over to the machine panel and I hear the polisher!! Has the scraping been so thorough that I don’t need to be flossed? Am I headed straight for cleaning nirvana? I thank my lucky stars, and let my tongue explore my poor battered gums. The worst areas are swollen already, everything is tender, and I can still taste blood, even though I’ve been thoroughly ‘gauzed’ several times.
After a brief break, stretching my jaw, I re-open my mouth and wait for my cleaning cool down. Again, the start is falsely disarming, as she flits across my back teeth, seeming to take care. But, once again, Maryann was just revving up. About 15 seconds into the process, she is racing across my teeth. Like a drunk teenager in a wave runner, she began speeding across the interior of my mouth – bouncing off my teeth, actually banking across my gums with an instrument meant to be used against hard enamel. I wince, writhe, but, trooper that I am, my mouth stays open, my jaw set in Spartan defiance.
And, finally, it is over. She crosses the room and fills up a cup with water. I keep my swig in my mouth, waiting for it to warm up a bit, before swishing it across my bloodied, raw gum line. I push it through the gaps between my teeth, trying to dislodge the cleaning agent. Finally, I spit out dark red liquid, and grit. The red is a combination of blood and the polish cream, I just can’t tell how much of each is contributing to the color. I lay back again, and ready myself for the dentist to come in, do his 15-second examination of my teeth before I can leave.
But, what’s this?!? Maryanne is sitting beside me again! And what is that dangling from her still-gloved fingers. Horror begins to emerge from the depths of my stomach and works its way up to my eyes as I recognize the entwining motion of her hands. SHE’S ABOUT TO FLOSS ME!!!!! Oh, folly! Oh, cruel fate! Such trickery, deceit! This beast-woman has thrice lulled me, and thrice attacked in a most wretched and heinous sucker punch to my psyche.
Now that I’d rinsed away the evidence of her previous assault, she takes advantage of the carte blanche and ruthlessly invades the slight alleys betwixt my cowering teeth. With quick, sharp movements, she retore the flesh, and spurt forth fresh gushes. There was no pause, no gentle ‘hug & rub the side of each tooth’. Her ‘wham, bam, thank you ma’am’ approach left me cut up, sore, and ready to curl into the fetal position if she decided to perform any other oral excavations. But, at last, it was over. She had twice during our ‘session’ mentioned my bleeding – and attributed it to some sort of medical terminology, as if it were my fault. NO, LADY, it’s from the METAL POINTS & garrote you jabbed and sliced into my f’ing FLESH!!!!!! I said nothing, because I’m sure we both knew the truth.
Now was usually the time the hygienist would make notes, maybe go see where the Doc was. But, nooooo – not Maryanne, that’s not her style. INSTEAD, she sits down beside me again, kind of attempting to make awkward small talk about my job, the diabetes, etc. So, she’s sitting there like a patient family member visiting a sickly relative on their deathbed, all the time eyeing your jewelry. I mostly avoided eye contact, not wanting her to think I’d forgotten…or forgiven. I half expected her to take my hand in a soothing gesture. The situation felt creepy enough that I feared it was possible. I could just picture her leaning over, forcing me to look into her eyes. Perhaps, she’d say soothing words, ‘feel’ my pain – caused, of course, solely by ME due to my lack of flossing or use of Scope. Gently scold me for my transgressions, while at the same time offering forgiveness and a speck of hope that next time, she won’t have to hurt me, because I’d have been a good girl. Brush the hair away from my face, and ensure me that it’s up to me, and she had faith I will choose the path of goodness – & pain-free visits.
AT LAST!!! The doctor comes in!
Maryanne makes it a point to tell him her WF faux pas & her joke about being there long enough to have return patients. Of course, she’s also forgotten that she’d encouraged me to have an extra visit this year, because of the diabetes. So, actually, my return visit was 2 months earlier than normal. But, at this point, I don’t want to split hairs – just get the hell out of there. And, as expected, the Doc takes about 25-30 seconds to look over my dents, gives me the ok, and whisks out again (probably to nap for 20 minutes before his next grueling checkup).
After Maryanne unclips my bib, I follow closely on his heels. Man, I just want to go home! I don’t even remember if I said goodbye to my torturer du jour! I breathe deeply once I’m back in the waiting room. Cindy readies herself to make my follow-up appointment. She asks how it went.
“I’m a little sore, but that’s to be expected”.
Yeah, I play it off as no big deal. No need to involve others in the drama. However, somehow she KNOWS. She gives a knowing smile & remarks: “Yes, each person has their own touch”. She F’ING KNEW!!! She asked if I wanted to see another person next time. And, Spartan sacrificer I am, I declined. Hell, it’s several months away, enough time to physically & psychologically heal. Right?!? She half-ignores my refusal for special treatment, and checks who’s working what days. There’s so-and-so, she tells me, who went to the same school as Caroline – this said with a pointed look at me. Translation: This angel of mercy will NOT be mutilating your mouth in her quest for plaque annihilation!!!! I digress again, saying I’ll take what’s available. OH, steel-jawed obstinance! She agrees, it’s a long time off & who knows, maybe Caroline will be back… OH, cruel glimmer of hope! I leave with my appointment card in hand, my tongue again returning to the battle zone, swollen, wrecked, and beginning to ache.
After a few misadventures (unrelated) on my way home, I finally take a moment to look at my newly-spiffed choppers. What is this? It looks like I have something stuck between my bottom front teeth! OH, that’s clotted blood! GREAT!!! My cleaning made me look dirtier! Guess all the evidence of gore wasn’t washed away!. Oh… OH… OH – what the fuck?!?! My teeth still look YELLOW!!!! I don’t even notice a single SHADE of difference!!!! Not ONE FRICKING iota! All that poking, prodding, shellacking, cutting, scraping, swabbing, and overall gore-producing sadism WAS FOR NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All I can say is:
CAROLINE, COME BACK!!