• Christine Merser

My New Dentist

My new dentist is the most expensive dentist on Earth’s surface. One recent tooth cost $3,200 and it wasn’t even implanted. I look up at him in wonder. I have no idea what he looks like. His eyes are covered by the same thing the guy in Silence of the Lambs wore so he could see Jodi Foster in the dark. And, he wears a mask over his mouth so I don’t give him cooties. And, I still gave him $3,200 for one tooth.

Actually, I love my new dentist, even though by virtue of the fact of what he does, he stands for pain.

I don’t make excuses about not going. With my new dentist, I don’t call up on the morning of the appointment and pretend I have no voice which doesn’t fool anyone at all, especially the people on the phone who have heard it all before. I do wonder at the fake way in which they always answer, “We’re so sorry. Feel better!” Ha! We all know my line is a lie and so is theirs. Why not just tell the truth? I could call up and say, “I can’t bear the thought of the needle that you pretend to hide, which is two feet long, and is headed to my fragile, sensitive pink gums, and so I’m not coming today. Sorry.” And then they could answer, “No worries, we book two people for each hour because we know the attrition rate for attendance is about 50 percent.” It’s time we all start telling the truth. Isn’t that what Biden was saying this week? “Let’s say out in the open what we say in private.” If it’s good enough for the insurrection and covid, it’s good enough for my dentist.

My new dentist is different than all the others.

My new dentist has great music playing in his torture chamber. He sometimes sings to it which makes me nervous. Just focus. F-O-C-U-S. But he seems to get it right even though he’s clearly multi-tasking. There is a TV above the chair as well. Sometimes I just watch it and can actually not be there while he’s working on me. I know he’s a Republican because it’s always tuned to Fox News. I actually commented on it once, and they offered to change it but I’m sure they would not have been willing to change it to MSNBC and reruns of Rachel Maddow. When you pay someone $1,600 an hour you really should get control of the channel before you walk in.

I found out he spent a year working on his 38 year old car (ok, not a car, a Porsche) and making it electric. He told me with great excitement (hard to actually see the excitement because of the mouth mask, but I could hear it) that the car will go 100 miles on an electrical charge. Maybe he should be doing something other than dentistry?

I asked him if he cared about my teeth as much as he cared about the car, and he said, “Yes, actually I do.” And, he meant it. It’s hard to find people who care about the service they provide with such force and voracity. My hairdresser definitely doesn’t care about my hair so much. My butcher – no way. And, let us not get into the Gynecologist because it’s so not his fault, but rather mine.

Awhile ago, he asked me about my discomfort in his office – sort of implying that he had given me no reason to hate coming, which was true. I responded, “I have two words. Marathon Man.” That was the end of that conversation.

I realize that a fear of something that consistently hurts you is not a phobia at all but rather self preservation. This fact means it’s ok to have ambivalence about my dentist.

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