Yesterday I wheeled by my office to complete an important task, and then I headed over to Mesquite. I used to live in Mesquite, from 1985 to 1991. It's a small suburban city which features an internationally-famous rodeo, an Opry where "regulars" sit in the same seat each Saturday, munch popcorn and listen to silly but not off color jokes between covers of Patsy Cline songs, and my dentist maintains his office. It's only about ten minutes from my work, and therefore it's perfectly convenient.
When I had gone in February to the dentist, I discovered that while in general all was quiet on the western front, some needful matters did require attention. My dentist is a good fellow. We actually went to high school together, back on Tattooine. He was the sort of fellow who played on the football team, while I was the sort of fellow who ran unsuccessfully for election as president of the chess club. He's the kind of dentist one wishes to have, offering very little in the way of histrionics and a great deal in the way of directness.
My morning began with an appointment with the new dental hygienist, who proved to be from Magnolia, roughly thirty miles from the town in which I finished high school. We were nine years apart in age, which proved to be just enough distance that she did not know the people I knew in Magnolia.
She had moved to Dallas a few months prior, as her husband is now attending Dallas Theological Seminary, our local conservative Baptist institution. As it is perhaps good that the cat sometimes survive curiosity, I believe it a virtue that my teeth were distracted with various things polishing, whirring, and dancing upon them. Otherwise, I might have been tempted to quiz her about how one makes the choices to attend a fundamentalist seminary at the age of 36.
I am still scarred, perhaps, by the small home-church I attended with friends years ago, in which, despite the fact that the church clearly needed financial support and had only a few members, rather clueless seminary kids from that institution thought it a wise practice to consume most of the service seeking to extract money, like molars, from the few and proud church members, in pursuit of missions to countries that do not really want to host missionaries. Quite judgmentally, I thought to myself then that the woman who quit her accounting job because of a deep desire to smuggle pamphlets into Uzbekistan might have done more good by getting a day job and tithing to this small home church. Take it all around, I am glad I was not free to express my jaundiced view, freeing up more time for the kind hygienist to point out ways in which I could be less wicked about my teeth.
I liked the woman who cleaned my teeth, as she reminded me of so many women among whom I grew up. People from south Arkansas have an understated something about them I cannot quite name but always enjoy experiencing. I even let her sell me the thermonuclear fissionable electronic toothbrush she was selling, notwithstanding that it cost a pretty yen and that it did not, unlike my battery-powered dollar store usual brushes, feature the Tasmanian Devil, an anonymous astronaut or Tweety Bird on its torso.
Our lecture went well, as she only had to break out the model teeth for brushing exhibitions once, and then I was freed up for the main event. Soon I was ushered into another chair, where the charming Candace awaited. Candace is a dental assistant, and her simple friendliness always appeals. The last time I visited, she told me about her impending wedding, and we discussed potential honeymoon locales. This time, though, the only transport involved nitrous oxide.
Laughing gas is flavored these days, which seems to me in the main a good thing. The flavor yesterday hovered somewhere between lemon and almond, though, when it is my own belief that the scent should be something along the lines of cherry pie or blackberry cobbler. I must confess that I am one of life's immune people, although I am not immune in a "been down so long it feels like up to me" sense, but merely in the prosaic "sedatives usually don't make much difference to me" sense. But yesterday, I breathed deeply of the nitrous oxide, in a transparent attempt to avoid feeling much of the proceedings.
I'll skim over, if you don't mind, the various actual procedures, as, really, they only amount to the patient to a series of inconsequential sounds, extractions and whirrs. The dentist grasps the thorn by its particular nettle, and soon we have moved from
procedure to aftermath. I spent some ninety minutes in a kind of relaxed euphoria while armageddon gave way to judgment day and promptly passed on to harp-playing in Heaven.
When the dust had cleared, and Moloch and Ragnarok had been banished back to the stanzas of "Howl", my wife (who had come in for a routine cleaning, as her teeth, like rocks of Gibraltar, rarely need revision) and I received a two page instructional sheet which may be summmarized as "no solid foods for a day and go home and don't drive after you take the painkiller". I drove home, did some light work on the computer, took my painkiller, and did not drive. I write a review of an archive.org album by an on-line friend, and then worried that my overall positive review had nonetheless too much of the frankness that a religious conversion or wisdom tooth extraction can inspire. I played with Beatrice the dog and Teddy the dog. I watched "The Apprentice", and felt badly for the fellow whom everyone disliked, apparently because rather than swimming with the sharks, he seemed devoted to not being one. I got a good night's sleep, and awoke to kind words from the fellow whose record I reviewed, thanking me for my honesty.
I will eschew my raisin bran in favor of another of the "meals in a can" that so enlivened the last evening, head to my office for a productive day, and be thankful that I have a dentist who can drill down to the core of my psyche without quite causing me pain.