Thursday, June 05, 2014

in the dentist's chair

...some days you find yourself in the dentist's chair weeping. because obviously, you've only been flossing sporadically and the kind but stern hygienist kindly/sternly looks at your chart and says, how has it been _______ since your last cleaning, how is that possible? she is displaying x-rays of your devastating oral history, ticking off concerns, foremost the condition of your gums. it may be painful, we may need topical anesthesia, she says. and by we, she means you, you who sit shameful as a child who put a bean up her nose. on purpose.

as the hygienist assembles her tray of pointy tools you ask, is it still okay to wear headphones? i brought headphones, do people still get to wear headphones?? oh yes, she says, people do anything to block out the sound of the scraping.

so you hastily plug in, fearing she will change her mind and punish you, saying, no, not you, you get to listen to what you've done, maybe then you won't be so willy-nilly with the teeth god gave you.

you hit shuffle and crank up the volume as the chair reclines, you lay back and open your mouth obediently. her rubber gloved fingers pull at your lips and the metal instruments clack against your teeth until the nauseating scraping begins. you crank it higher.

then the next song starts and it's that eric clapton song, the one your brother played that christmas the whole family was home for the first time in forever, and you remember why it's been_______ since your last cleaning. you remember when everything usual, including bills and laundry and leaving the house and your very own teeth, got lost between the chore of waking up and getting to sleep.

you wince at the memory and the hygienist notices. she says, oh sweetie, i know it hurts, and you think she is offering a half smile, behind her purple paper mask, which just makes you nod and nod, unable to answer, while her fingers and tools are still working away. you cry as easily as your gums bleed...