Molar Eclipse

Iwent to the dentist recently, or rather, I should say, I went to a dentist, since there is obviously more than one dentist in the world because two out of three of them prefer chewing Trident over chewing on your own tongue.

I went a few months ago for a check-up for the reason I do most things — my mother made me. They X-rayed my teeth (“Perfectly safe,” said the nurse as she left the room) and then they put me in a chair so the dentist could come and look for something in my teeth that he could say was a cavity. I had eaten an Oreo that day, so he used that as an excuse to make me come back at the end of June.

So I went back and was led down the hall to the Dental Torture Chamber. It was then that I noticed that the operating rooms were separated by very thin walls, so the screams of the damned could be heard by all.

After I’d been sitting in the Chair of Dental Pain for a while, the somewhat enormous doctor waddled in with his nurse, who was equally large, but she was pregnant, so that was okay. He told her that they had to install fillings in teeth 3 and 18, and then, talking as if I wasn’t there, he informed her that he would do number 18 without anesthesia.

“What?” I said, noting that he wore a mask, making it impossible to identify him in a lineup.

“Oh, it’s a small job,” he said nonchalantly. “We don’t need anesthesia. If we use it, you’ll be numb and won’t be able to eat for three hours.

I guess as far as he was concerned, excruciating pain is better than not being able to eat. I didn’t happen to agree, but I always respect the opinions of those with sharp, electric objects.

Number 18 was a small job; I left only a few tooth marks in his hands, which is pretty good, considering he had seven or eight hands, all of them crammed in my mouth. Then he moved to number 3, which was a bigger job. It was so big, in fact, that before he began drilling and filling, he put a clamp around the tooth, presumably so it wouldn’t run away in fright.

But all my fears, all my stereotypical jibes about the dental profession were put to rest when, as he was working on number 3, the nurse handed him a tool, and he said — this is a quote — “What is this?”

It turned out that he was LOOKING AT THE WRONG END. Whew. That’s better.But everything worked out in the end, and I’ve gotten over my fear of dentists, because, after all — dentists are people, too.

Technically, anyway.

Ugh. You know how you hear about C.E.O.s and big-time business executives whose very first jobs were working at McDonald's, or a gas station, or something? I think for a humorist, having to write pieces about dentists, airlines, and dumb TV commercials are the equivalent. It's all part of payin' your dues, kid.