The Crowned Prince

Like most people, I don’t like going to the dentist.

People often say after some bad experience that it was terrible….like pulling teeth. You try and get your kids to do what you want them to do or to persuade your boss to follow a different path. Pulling teeth is an apt description. 

This week I had to get two crowns and a cavity filled so I knew that I would be in the dentist chair for quite some time. I put this off as long as possible and finally set a date. I entered the office filled with fear and high anxiety. My jaws are clenched just thinking about this again. 

My new BFF

I now realize how much I enjoy nitrous oxide. It is truly my new best friend forever.

Self-portrait while enjoying time with my BFF
The hygienist fit me with a nifty nose cap that gave me a stream of oxygen along with a nice vanilla scented blend of nitrous oxide- happy juice- taking the edge off. For me, you cannot take enough of the edge off when your mouth feels like a construction site with clamps, tubes and all kinds of chazerai (Yiddish for miscellaneous stuff). 

I also got to wear a set of sexy Stevie Wonder-like sunglasses that must keep some kind of UV rays away from my eyes. 

I was stylin’. I felt like I was at a dentist’s beach party and all I was missing was a speedo, SPF 30 and a drink with a fancy paper umbrella.

Barry White Teeth
As I start to go under, I hear the dentist and the hygienist trying to figure out who was singing in this deep basso voice on the XM radio Pop 70’s channel piped into the dentist office. They kept saying it sounds like Isaac Hayes but it has to be someone else. Marvin Gaye. No. Who is it…who is it?

I knew the answer but with a mouthful of drills and drains, I couldn’t speak. It was as if I was on Jeopardy and Alex Trebek would call on me but I had a gag in my mouth and couldn’t speak. Alex, dental history for $500. Arrhgggg.

“Barry White I tried to say…Barry White.” Unfortunately what came out of my mouth was “Bare ass Wide”. I figured I should keep my mouth shut. Well, I figured I should keep my mouth open but not speak.

Dental Delusions
As I am under this mild sedation and floating around on the ceiling, random thoughts start dancing in my head. How will Fanny’s audition go in Hollywood? Did Sarah’s trip back to Punahou go okay from the school’s weekend camp? Did I buy the right albacore tuna in water last week at Harris Teeter for Ra El? Who played drums in the Zappa’s Mother’s of Invention Band? (Answers: fantastic, no problem, yes and Jimmy Carl Black)

I get lost on another tangent in my dental purple haze.I start thinking about all of my photographic albums that my grandfather made for me and the myriad of photos I have taken in my life. I wondered if there are any family events where we never took even one photograph. 

Bar Mitzvah - check. 
Birthdays -    check
Weddings -    check
Beach Trips - check
Millburn Deli- check 
Funerals -      nope
Dr's visits -     nope

I know that we would never bring a camera to a funeral or unveiling as it would seem disrespectful. But who decided that? At my Dad’s funeral and then again at his unveiling it seemed odd that no one had a camera because the Slaters were always taking pictures. Jack would have been the first one to throw a camera in the car…just in case. Poppa George didn’t have any rules about a no camera zone.

I tried to take my picture but missed
As the drill is whirling away, I realized that I don’t think I have any pictures of me at a doctor or dentist office. Not with Dr.Jules Baime our pediatrician from the sixties, Dr. Bert Kaswiner our dentist or any of the other medical helpers. I don’t even have a picture of myself with Wally Kleinman- our neighborhood pharmacist and both my sister Diane and I worked for him yet we always brought a gift for Wally from all our vacations. But no Wally photos. 

In a sudden moment of lucidity, I realize I have had my picture taken at the dentist as they now include it in your digital file. I have also had x-rays taken like everyone else. But these aren’t the type of pictures anyone posts to Facebook. I want some pictures of me in the chair.

In my stupor I think- wait a second, I have a camera with me on my phone. What am I waiting for? It is never too late. So I rinsed, spit and started clicking away.

Chomping at the Bit
I extract my phone from my pocket and I struggled to figure out how to take a few pictures of myself while lying down a little blitzed? Should I ask the hygienist to help or should I just do this surreptitiously. Keep in mind that I am brushed with a mild buzz and it feels like the parts from a 67 Chevy are in my mouth. While the dentist and the hygienist are out of the room, I quickly take out the phone, click the camera button and begin to shoot some photos.

The dentist showing patience
I am usually a pretty good photographer and love to get exactly the right composition and lighting. But in this situation, I knew I would have to take whatever I could. Finally I take out the camera and tell Dr. Schmorr to smile because I am taking our picture. 

It is a good thing she has a sense of humor but I know she had no idea what I was doing. 

What did I learn from this week's adventure? Well, life is short and there is no reason to wait for new experiences. I also learned that if you have an empty space or a cavity where something is missing, you need to fill it.. 

I also learned that if it ran for office, I would vote for nitrous oxide to be President. 

So open wide. Smile. And don’t forget to floss.

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