I Went to a Hipster Dentist

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And I’ve never felt more like George Washington



This little bit of goofiness was written in response to a satire writing contest and I must have been in some sort of weird state of mind. I had a lot of fun writing it. My story didn’t go anywhere in the contest, but it found a home on Medium and I wanted to share it here.


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Photo by Nathalia Belfort on Unsplash

After working four years and six months at my Angel Investor-backed, cash-infused, market-disrupting employer, I finally qualified for benefits. Whew! I know, I know. As far as unpaid internships go, that was on the short side.

After unironically eating too many Flintstone gummy vitamins from the company breakroom, my back tooth started to ache, so I found a company plan-approved dentist in the rapidly gentrifying part of town.

Okay, it was the only approved dentist, but no matter. I have insurance!

Well, color me delighted when I arrived at Dr. Ethan’s one-room office in the backroom of a nail salon and was greeted by the sight of so many archaic dental implements scattered about. What a collection!

Never in my wildest dreams did I think he’d actually use the hand drill on me. But he did. Without novocaine.

 

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An illustration of dental keys for tooth extraction from Savigny’s catalog of surgery implements, circa 1798, and found here

I guess the screaming upset the mani-pedi customers, so Dr Ethan handed me a half-empty fifth of gin and an old Iomega at Comdex giveaway stress ball to squeeze. It was all very Old West and I feel honored to be a part of the vintage dental ways.

I can’t believe people actually lived through this! I bet my brother — the one with good job — has never experienced anything so cool.

After the rotten roots were properly canal’ed, Dr Ethan offered me a wide range of replacement teeth in many colors, none of them white and porcelain.

Oh, I could have chosen a gold tooth (not covered by insurance), an amalgam of something toxic and something radioactive (also not covered by insurance), or a nice assortment of wooden teeth.

I don’t know if it was the gin or the blood loss, but I was pleased to have the chance to choose between a knotty pine, a beautiful mahogany, or a nice hard teak.

Well, I chose mahogany that day and haven’t looked back. Sure, the varnish is seeping into my salivary glands and small splinters of tooth fly off when I eat oatmeal, but I am now the coolest, most throwback guy in the office. I can hardly wait for the next tooth to rot out of my head! And for this infection to go away.

The only downside: My urge to chop down cherry trees has never been stronger.

This item first appeared on Medium, find more of my work @karenfayeth over there

Ow

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The funny thing is, when your tooth hurts, nothing else really matters.

The sun could be shining, birds chirping and a thousand dollars in cash just lying there on the sidewalk begging you to take it, but none of that matters.

When your tooth hurts, there is just bleak darkness and anger and frowns. Lots and lots of frowns.

A little over a week ago I was having The Worst Friday Ever and during that day I managed to break a tooth. It didn’t hurt but it needed to be fixed.

Monday was fixin’ day. I spent two and a half hours in a dentist’s chair with two people in my mouth doing barbaric and vile things to the tooth way at the very back of my jaw.

You know that moment when the dentist is drilling your tooth and you smell smoke? Tooth smoke? Yeah. There was an awful lot of tooth smoke in that room on Monday.

Also, you see, here’s something you should know about me. I’m a sensitive little flower. I can’t take a full dose of over the counter cold medicine because it will knock me out. I take one quarter of a 25mg blood pressure pill. 25mg is the smallest size they make and I have to half it and then half it again. I can’t drink a cup of regular coffee or it will give me a migraine. The small amount of caffeine in a cup of decaf will actually wind me up.

When the dentist gives a normal person Novocain, they add a drop of epinephrine, a hard core stimulant. The epi helps the medicine act fast, be more effective and last longer. I cannot tolerate the epinephrine. At all. So I have to have more shots that don’t work that effectively. Then halfway through the procedure, I have to have more shots. And then there is a point where I am asked to simply gut it out.

I don’t gut things out all that well, especially pain. See delicate little flower syndrome.

But I have been seeing this same dentist for nigh on sixteen years and he knows I’m a fruit cake and I know he’s a good doctor and he’s about the only person I would allow to do such mean things to my nice little teeth.

So I survived the two and a half hour ordeal and was near catatonic for the rest of the day. Yesterday I went to the office and worked a thirteen hour day while blood oozed from the wound and made me nauseous.

And it hurt. When your tooth hurts, nothing else really matters.

Today I’m improving but it’s not great.

I haz a cranky.






Image from Oral Pathology.




Never too late

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Went to have my teeth cleaned and checked yesterday. Been going to the same dentist for twelve years, so I’ve gotten to be somewhat friendly with my hygienist.

She is amazing. A force to be reckoned with. Very handy and kind with a dental tool.

Over the years, she and I have been through a lot together. For example, I recently got married, she recently got divorced.

She’s has been seeing a new guy for about a year now. The first blush of love has worn off, and they have hit a rough patch.

Yesterday as she scraped at my teeth and gums with a metal pointy object, she caught me up on the latest.

“I’m not even staying over at his place anymore, I’ve been back at my apartment,” she said, angrily.

“I do things for him! I know what he needs and I give it to him. Why can’t he do the same for me!” she huffed. : scrape, scrape :

“He just makes me so MAD” she said, while jabbing the beejeezus out of my gums.

When she gave me a moment to rinse the blood out of my mouth, I said, “you know, my husband has told me that often enough men really appreciate it if you’ll just *tell* them what you need. Give him a little guidance and I bet he’ll be happy to provide what you want. He just wants to make you happy.”

“But why doesn’t he just *know*?!?” she wailed.

“Because he doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need,” I said, gently.

She thought about what I said, muttering aloud to herself with one foot on my forehead and both hands shoved in my face, jabbing at my teeth unmercifully.

“Maybe you are right, maybe I need to be willing to say what I need more. Maybe I’ll go over to his place tonight to watch the hockey game and we can talk.”

I grunted.

For some reason, people like to use me for therapy.

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Oh…

Did I mention?

My hygienist is 60 years old.

Never, NEVER too late!

Who am I?

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You know, the more popular online stores, the Amazons and the iTunes of the world are getting more sinister sneaky creative.

They have started these “recommended for you” features or “just for you” picks.

The choices are based on what you have looked at or bought in the past. iTunes also looks at your current library to make recommendations.

Which is both cool and diabolical because it makes me buy more. I mean, they find stuff I may not have thought of! I’ve dropped serious coin after an hour on the “just for you” feature on iTunes.

So when I’m bored, I’ll go over and take a gander to see what’s recommended. Maybe I’ll make a new find!

However…I’m starting to get nervous about just what, exactly, my “recommended for you” lists say about me.

Here is an actual screen capture of my actual “Just for You” list on iTunes:

This does not say “hip cat”. This does not say “cutting edge”. This does not say “wow, you are the person people want to be like”.

This says…you are lame as hell and listen to the kind of music they play in the elevators around the world.

I can’t even debate the choices. I *adore* Roger Miller, I already own that Lynn Anderson, and I’ve been known to favor a tune or ten by Mickey Gilley. I used to own that Goo Goo Dolls (but wearied of them) and that Michael McDonald song is one of my all time favorites. Oh and that song “Wildfire”…well, it brings a tear to the eye every time.

Fine. I’m a dork. Whatever.

This is like going to the dentist with teeth you are pretty sure are spotless and then they make you chew that red tablet and show you just how god awful dirty your teeth really are.

Sometimes it’s better not to look too closely in the mirror.

I won’t *even* share my Amazon recommendations list. My mother reads this blog, fer goodness sakes! I swear I only accidentally clicked on that questionable item ONCE! I swear!

I have the power!!

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[evil, maniacal laugh] bwa ha ha ha ha ha hee haw heee….*cough, sputter, cough*….ahem.

I’m back now.

Anyhow, I seem to have learned to use a fabulous power first taught to me in my youth.

The power of guilt.

Oh yes.

First example:

The center dial on my bathtub is broken, meaning that it will only shower, it won’t bath. This is upsetting. I am a fan of the hot bath. Especially in the winter. Particularly when it’s cold and stormy outside as it is today.

This has gone unfixed for quite some time, despite reporting it dutifully to my landlord. He said, “I need to find a new set of knobs…I’ll get to it.”

And he didn’t.

The landlord’s son lives a street over and came by our place about an electrical problem two weeks ago. So I bugged him to bug his dad about the bathtub. The son promised he’d fix it himself.

He didn’t.

A couple weeks passed.

This weekend, the son was mowing our front lawn. I said, “sorry to ask, but I need to remind you about the bathtub.”

This young man was *immediately* doused deeply in sheepish guilt, he apologized a bunch and promised to fix the bathtub, which he did on Sunday morning. And apologized some more.

Aaaah. Guilt is good.

Next example:

After my dental work yesterday, I woke up with a swollen face and a nifty bruise on my cheek. I’m thrilled to have to explain this to my coworkers.

My dentist, being the kind sort that he is, emailed me today to check to see how I was doing after the work. I emailed him back a photo of my bruised face and suggested he won’t be getting any new referrals from my coworkers.

He called me right away and apologized profusely and told me this sometimes happens (nicked a blood vessel when he did the injections) and that he felt terrible this had happened.

A man who inflicts severe pain for a living feels *terrible*.

Heh.

This feels gooood. I’m learning what my mom has known for years…guilt is quite the propellant.

In case you are still in training wheels and need to learn how to properly give the guilt, here’s a wikihow to get you over the hump.

Only downside? This power can be used on me, too.

Damn my Catholic upbringing!