The other day I went to the dentist. This isn’t that unusual in and of itself. I am the proud owner of teeth that range from bad to worse so I go a lot. Don’t let my white, straight, shiny, picture-perfect smile deceive you. If my teeth aren’t already rotten to the core, they will be soon.
As much as I would like to ignore the various aches and pains and intermittent crumbling that come with a mouth like mine, I’ve heard how much grumbling my family does when my Grandma refuses to put her big girl panties on and let the dentist fit her for dentures. I mean if they can talk about a sweet (if exceedingly irrational) old lady like that, Lord only knows what they would say about me. Also, my dad always recalls that scene from the Grinch where he has cockroaches in his smile, like he brings it up a lot. And if that doesn’t scare you straight to the nearest toothbrush, nothing will.
So I go drive over and park in the awkward parking lot, knowing that when I leave I’ll consider it a good day if I only have a few near-misses backing out, and I always pull open the door to the foyer too hard so it makes a lot of noise and all the old people in the waiting room look at me and glare. Then I check in with the evil receptionist Marilyn, and I tell her “I’m Lauren” and she says, “I know“, because I’ve been here at least 25 times in the last 3 years. But I tell her anyway, because she needs to earn her keep. Then I wait in the waiting room and pray that I don’t get the hygienist who always forgets to wipe up all the drool my overactive salivary glands inevitably produce.
That day my prayers were answered though because lo and behold, I didn’t get the forgetful hygienist! This hygienist was young and new, and when I rattled off the laundry list of all the new irritated spots I had and exactly which tooth was sensitive to what, she looked mildly taken aback.
Amateur hour is over, lady. You’re in the big leagues now.
So she gets in there and starts scratching all the plaque off my teeth, which I hate, but I could also hear the unmistakable sounds of someone getting the drill the room over, so at this point I’m thanking my lucky stars. Then she finds a burn which I didn’t even know I had by poking the roof of my mouth so hard I almost throw up. I almost start wishing for the drool-bucket hygienist.
Luckily her time was up and she leaves me to wait for the Dr. to come in. It’s not too bad waiting though, because right in front of the dentist chair in these rooms are big picture windows that used to face a dump but now face a nice lawn and pond and island. I’m sitting there surveying the nature scene when there’s rapid movement at the bottom of the window that my eye is drawn to--it’s a moth flapping viciously against the glass. I leaned forward out of the chair to try and see better what it was and why it was so intent on getting into the room, and it made me think of the famous short story about the moth and the candle, and my junior year English teacher telling our class that the greatest ruminations of life and death can come from something as mundane as a moth and a candle. And I’m wracking my brain, thinking, come on Hobs, think of what this could mean! I was in and he was out, but he wanted in and I wanted out! What could it be? But then it floated away, and before I could finish or even develop a real thought, the Dr. came in and told me my x-rays looked great and that molar wasn’t going to need a root canal after all. I could come back in December for another cleaning, but that was it, other than that I was free for 6 blissfully dentist less months.
It wasn’t until I had already backed out of the difficult parking lot, narrowly avoiding a Chevrolet Coupe, and I was sitting at a stop light that I thought about the moth again. Maybe he just liked the light over the chair. He was probably just doing his moth thing, what moths have been doing forever. A moth flapping and not meaning anything at all. What a relief. Just a moth. Then it occurred to me that I probably just had a dentist appointment. At last, a normal day at the dentist. So much time spent thinking about a dentist appointment that was just a dentist appointment, dreading the parking lot, and the door, the old people, the receptionist, the hygienists, and even the Dr., who would of course, tell me they had never seen that before. That day it was just a normal moth and I had a normal mouth.
But don’t even get me started on my haircut appointment.