Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dental Tales

My dentist bit me.

He had his reasons.

It was my first trip and my mom had calmly explained that the dentist's job was to make sure my mouth was healthy, which meant that he would be putting his fingers in my mouth. My mom firmly instructed me not to bite him.

I hadn't planned on biting him and I was a generally trusting kid. But since my mom mentioned it...

"What happens if I bite him?" I asked.

Here, my mom had many options. She could have reminded me that you should not bite anyone, or she could have threatened consequences. Instead, she looked at me slyly and said, "He'll bite you back."

This was unexpected. "Really?"

My mom kept that sly look again.

The dentist's office was really marvelous. The crazy cool chair like a giant banana, little spit toilet, the tools, and the statues of teeth all over the place - it was a wonderland.

So the dentist began poking around and, curious, I took - well not really a bite - more of a nibble. (Dentists taste latexy.)

Next thing I knew my nose was in the uncomfortable grip of a disembodied jaw. It was a pair of the tooth statues wired together. Later I learned they were the plaster impressions used to make the terrible headgear I had to wear throughout high school.

"Don't mess with the dentist!" he smiled.

I later learned our dentist had been a ragamuffin with my father in their misbegotten youth. My mom had set me up. (Again I am grateful that YouTube was decades away.)


Years later I witnessed a bar scene. A bunch of Marines were razzing a guy a bit. The guy was definitely losing face was with a date. Not something for yours truly to get involved with. But I ran into the guy in the men's room and said something supportive. He smiled, "I'm in the Navy - a dental tech. I make Marines cry."

Glad I learned my lesson early.

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