Dead Caterpillar

The universe is a vast cosmic conspiracy ...

Reflections, sitting in the dentist chair

Monday, Jul 19th, 2010

Where do I look? Do I focus on the half-blinding light overhead? Do I stare deep into Dr. Choi’s pitch-black almond eyes? Do I look at my teeth through the reflection in Choi’s glasses (he’s Chinese and educated so he has glasses of course). Perhaps I should stare to the left, at the face mask of the nurse which was bobbing up and down on account of the fact that she was chewing gum?

The internal conflict was having an effect on me. My eyes were going all over the place. My fingers were twitching. I could not settle on an awkward-less place to rest my eyes. And because my brain was so busy trying to solve the eye problem, I had difficulty obeying the dentist’s two simple commands: “open more” and “close more.”

Then I had an epiphany. Why not close my eyes? The revelation was brought about by a splash of cold water to the face by the water drill which forced my eyes shut. Afterwards, I kept them close.

“You must be tired,” Choi said about a minute after I closed my eyes.

“ah huh,” I responded.

After all, with all the foreign objects in your mouth, what else can anyone enunciate but “ah huh” at the dentist? When the dentist does something painful I usually clench my fists or wiggle my toes vigorously (don’t worry, they couldn’t see this child-like reaction because I was wearing shoes). But if the dentist saw, out of the corner of his eye, me clench my fists on the armrests he would ask if I was okay. In which case, mouth still full of objects, I would respond with a simple yet pointed “ah huh.” But even if I were physically capable of enunciating something beyond the length of one syllable, what could I possibly say?

“Yes Dr. Choi, that hurts.”

Would Choi then put down his tools and call it a day? Somehow I think not. After the roller coaster takes off there’s nothing much “stop the ride Dad!” can do. I learned that valuable lesson early on in life at the seemingly innocuous Runaway Mine Train ride at Six Flags, New Jersey.

I used to ask for the laughing gas, primarily because it feels like breathing in heaven. “Sweet air,” some people call it. I just don’t see why God couldn’t have mixed a little bit of that stuff into the atmosphere. Then maybe people wouldn’t be so uptight all the time.

I’ve learned the art of faking masochism while at the dentist. In my head, I scream things like “oh yeah,” “MORE,” and “bring it on” when Dr. Choi does something painful (e.g. violently sticking a 10-inch needle deeper and deeper into my gum and not stopping even after 10-Mississippi). Unfortunately, no matter what I do to mask the pain, my tongue always gives me away. My tongue seems to be in the habit of doing a little dance every time a large amount of pain is inflicted via my mouth. I know this because I witness it through the reflection in Choi’s eye glasses. I swear that little thing has a life of its own.

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