Be True to Your Teeth, and They Won’t Be False to You
I used to be one of those people who feared the dentist. It all started with an x-ray for my wisdom teeth, and ended with me flat on my back on the office floor, surrounded on all sides by a team of alarmed dental hygienists. I don’t know if they still use this torture device, but at the time, they were doing x-rays where the patient stayed standing, inserted their chin into a metal tray, and then had a screen move over to cover your entire face. I was all, “Here’s my chin!” and then my knees buckled and everything went dark.
So I avoided the dentist for at least 7 years after that. Just enough time to develop tons of plaque and plenty of cavities. Then I finally found a place I really liked and my world–and mouth–opened right up.
I got to see my girl Sherry yesterday. Sherry is my dental hygienist, and I love her. A big reason I love her is because she also loves me. She calls me “Sweet Girl” and I become putty in her chair. Instead of handing it to me, she buries that little sample pack of toothpaste and tiny mouthwash right in my purse and says: “We’re close enough for me to do that.” She can’t clean teeth until she’s tuned into Taylor Dane on Pandora, and she has the last known poodle perm on the island of Manhattan. Sherry is fabulous, and I wish she would invite me over for Hanukkah.
Because we’re as close as two people who see each other for 30 minutes every six months can possibly be, Sherry has this habit of pursuing an actual conversation with me while she is knuckle-deep in my molars. On this visit, the main topic was what everybody’s doing for the holidays. Sherry is vacillating between Florida to see her daughter and Pittsburgh with her in-laws. Her first grandson was born six weeks ago, and while he is “yummy and delicious”, she actually finds him pretty boring at this phase and would prefer hitting Florida in 3 or 4 months when he will be guaranteed to be slightly more entertaining and worthy of a trip to the airport.
I have a metal utensil poking around my gums and my verbal skills are pretty limited, so I end up doing a lot of grunting and mhmmmming,while trying not to drool all over her fingers. Thirty-eight years on the job, and Sherry is still holding onto the hope that her patients will magically become viable conversationalists mid-cleaning.
“You’re doing great. Barely any bleeding.” She says, as she attacks my gums with a tiny pick-ax.
“Did you just say it’s good that I’m barely breathing?” I ask, because apparently when my ability to speak is affected, my ability to hear is too. Of course it sounded more like “mumble mumble grumble droooooool”.
Anyway, I got the all-clear from Sherry and the dentist. No cavities! No gum disease! Barely any halitosis!
And as I packed up my purse, complete with my little plastic baggie filled with waxed floss and Listerine, my darling Sherry said her goodbyes.
“See you in six months, Sweet Lady.”
Sweet Lady. Lady. Apparently Sherry and I have now entered a new phase in our relationship. Equals. Contemporaries. Amigas.
We’re getting together for Mah Jongg next week.