“Is This Seat Taken?”
Seeking a Bright New Smile-Provider
I had had the same dentist for nearly two decades until one day they charged me a whopping forty bucks for missing my appointment. When I protested, they might as well have said, “Bite me!” since they didn’t cancel the charge.
Later I called Julio and said,“That’s it! I’m changing dentists.”
“And remember he’s the same man who told you all your wisdom teeth will never come in. So few teeth, yet you seem to gnash them whenever you talk about him.’”
So I changed my dentist and had my first teeth cleaning.
Uh-Oh! You Know the Drill…
I was typing away on the computer when the home phone rang. No one who knew me personally ever called that number. Just telemarketers, in fact.
A perky voice came over the line. “Hi Amy! This is All About Smiles.”
Oh, it’s the cleft palate people wanting another donation.
I was about to hang up until I heard the words, “…schedule your appointment.”
Huh? Oh! All About Smiles! The dentist covered by my new insurance. That’s right. The charity was Smile Train. Once you donate, they retain the copyright to your number forever.
“for the fillings…”
I winced at the plural noun. I knew the drill … best to schedule it.
Of course, I had to tell Julio all about it. I lowered my voice, “Julio, I have a cavity.”
“Marshmallow cream,” Julio taunted, referring to a weak moment months earlier when I confessed to devouring an entire jar of the white stuff after having an upsetting day.
“Well …” I couldn’t think of a retort.
“Not toothpaste cream,” he reminded, “Sugar cream doesn’t have the same effect, now does it?”
“The fillings were ancient,” I protested. making it sound like I had them filled at the turn of the century. I hadn’t had a cavity since childhood.
Honesty made me confess, “Actually,” I lowered my voice even further, “The hygienist mentioned two cavities.”
Julio whistled. “I’d say you’ve had more than one jar of that fluff.”
All About Smiles?” Julio continued, “You should change the tagline on your business cards to “All About Holes in my Molars.” Or “’From a twenty-twenty attitude toward vision loss’ to “twenty times twenty holes of tooth decay.”
“Be quiet!” I imagined myself tripping into cavernous holes so big even my cane couldn’t cross them.
The Day of Reckoning
I had arranged for my friend, Lisa, to drive me.
She kept pushing me to hurry up. But I took my time. It was obvious she wasn’t getting her teeth filled.
“Come on,” she called. “It’ll take me awhile to find the place.”
Unfortunately, she was right. And those split-second decisions! “On Upper Peach or Lower Peach? Which direction do I go?”
Fumbling for my phone, I croaked, “Siri, take me to All About Smiles.” I added the address.
Siri didn’t respond. I turned to Lisa. “Um, you live here, don’t you know?”
“Here goes, I’m turning right,” she shouted.
My cell phone flew into the air. “Sorry, Siri!” Although I wasn’t Catholic, I covered myself with the sign of the cross as the tires squealed at the sudden turn. “Jeez Louise!”
“Well, you wouldn’t tell me. And even now I don’t know where I’m going.”
The turn must have scared Siri, too, because she suddenly started spouting directions to the dentist. “Get in the right lane. Your destination is half a mile on your right.”
Lisa returned to my pleasant, soft-spoken friend. “That’s all I wanted — some guidance.” She pulled into the parking lot. “Go!” she said, prying my fingers off the hand rest. “Open the door,” she coaxed, then pushed me out! A moment later, the car revved and she was gone.
Tick-Tock, Will My Teeth Rot?
Two women behind the counter had their heads together looking at a calendar.
I swung my cane forward. “Excuse me,” I said.
An expectant glance, which turned into a frown when I said, “I’m sorry I’m late.” No, not a smile in a place that was all about smiles. “When was your appointment?”
“My dear, that’s pushing it. You’re twenty minutes late. We took the next client. You may have a seat in the waiting room to see if anything opens up before four. I can’t guarantee anything, however.”
I didn’t have much choice, abandoned as I was by my driver.
Navigating through the crowded waiting room with my cane was like making my way through an ant hive. Children lay sprawled out everywhere on the floor, their heads buried in coloring books or computer tablets.
“Is this seat taken?” I asked. With no answer, I plopped down. As I folded up my cane, a little toddler grabbed onto it and pulled it toward her mouth.
“No-no. Don’t touch that dirty thing,” her mom scolded, shaking her finger. “Bad for ya’ teeth.” She frowned at her daughter. “We gotta’ keep ya’ teeth strong. We don’t want no cavities.”
Hitting a Nerve
I don’t know which pained me more, arriving late, my two adult cavities or my dirty cane tip. I suddenly felt weary and made my way to the parking lot, breathing deeply. Even petrol fumes smelled better than than the cherry toothpaste with a hint of Novocain mixed in that permeated inside.
My tongue found my top cavity. Not only did my tooth feel hollow, so did my spirit.
Was it time for another jar of marshmallow cream? Or at least a spoonful?
I decided not to tell Julio. He’d only say something silly like, ‘I think you’re headed for some crowns. And I don’t mean the princess kind.”
No, for me, it wasn’t all about the smiles anymore.
How do you feel about going to the dentist? Who humors you through the ‘teeth travails’ of your life?