I can’t think of a better way to spend a morning than to hang out in the dentist’s chair. Oh sure, being kicked in the head with a golf shoe or repeatedly jabbed in the eyeball with a porcupine quill comes close, but for the monetary investment, you really can’t beat the professional abuse at a dentist’s office.
I’m quite grateful to have dental coverage…there was a time during my seminary days when our family had no dental plan, because my seminary job consisted of wearing a polyester uniform and guarding computer parts at a warehouse. (“Stop, thief…or I’ll tell you to stop again!”) Our dental plan back then consisted of, “Chew on the side that doesn’t hurt.”
Anyway, back to the molar patrol…I believe one of the oddest things about the dentist is that you openly, willingly do things that would be socially taboo in any other public setting. Never once have I walked through Target and thought, “You know what? I could use a good swish-n-spit right now” and proceed to fire one off on the office supplies aisle. But in the dental chair, it’s suddenly okay to swish to my heart’s content. And spitting? They invented a new device during my seminary off-years that vacuums the spit right outta there. Now that’s a job that’s worse than being a seminary security guard…the spit vacuum repairman.
Here’s yer problem right here, lady. You got a big wad of saliva lodged in the intake manifold. I’ll have that out in a jiff.
Dental visits are weird because nowhere else can you have a more one-sided conversation that when you have a mouthful of spit vacuums and someone else’s hand. Think about it: you’re captive to someone who (a) asks questions they know you can’t answer, but (b) you’re afraid not to answer because they have pointy metal tools.
“So, beautiful weather outside today, huh?”
“Mfrtv uhjsrt baew quil.”
“It looks like this weekend will be warming up quite nicely.”
“Nopt brlitgarf orfrever du.”
“Really? I hadn’t heard they were in town.”
All of this happens with the dental hygienist, which is a Latin term for “person who does all of the work before the dentist comes in and pokes around a little more.” When the dentist finally shows up, I always get the weird handshake. It’s the handshake that happens when you’re lying flat on your back and sense that someone is standing behind your head. Never do I feel more dyslexic than the dental chair handshake. “Did I just shake his hand or rifle through the sample toothbrush drawer? I don’t know what the heck is going on back there.”
Add to the fun mix that my dentist’s name is Will Turner. Like Orlando Bloom’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean. So in addition to the handshake, I have to fight the urge to greet him with “Doctor…William…Turner…” very slowly in my best Jack Sparrow accent. But I always say it in my head because it’s so dang funny. To me, anyway.
Dr. Turner’s job in a nutshell is to make fun of my teeth. If you’re a blog reader who has never met me in person, suffice it to say that I never had braces as a kid. I have teeth that allow me to eat corn on the cob at a 90 degree angle. I have an underbite you could hang a jacket on. But Dr. Turner went to school for bazillions of years to basically insult me in such a way that I would still like him when he was finished.
“Danny, it appears that you have the teeth brushing skills of an embryonic fetus. I found remnants of a Bojangles biscuit that we traced back to the Reagan administration, so I’m going to have to jab you with this metal torture device as punishment. But tell me about what’s going on at your church…I’m hearing great things!”
But the really amazing, completely spectacular part is that after the bright surgical spotlight is turned off and the spit vacuum is removed and I’ve picked all the flecks of plaque off of my shirt, I walk right out to the registration desk and sign up to do it again in six months. Because that’s just the way I roll.
And Dr. Turner, in case you happen to read this, know that I think you’re my favorite dentist ever. Especially since you’re still holding on to the pointy jabby things.