Random Thoughts
This is just a drill...
By Tina Stanley

My mouth is one of those things that gets me in a lot of trouble, but conversely, it gets me out of a lot, too. It is both my greatest asset and my most tragic flaw. Is it any wonder, then, that I have some apprehension about submitting it to the tender touch of power tools?

I am an expert dentist-evader, but things recently reached the point where I could no longer put off the inevitable. Last Friday, with rosary beads clutched firmly in hand (I'm not Catholic, but I figured I could use all the help I could get), I submitted to my first dental appointment in five years.

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After a mercifully short time in the waiting room, I was shown into what I can only surmise was a room from the eighth circle of the ninth ditch of Hell. I was directed to a device which, to my fevered brain, somewhat resembled the electric chair, and was left there to contemplate my sins as I awaited my fate. What heinous deeds had I committed in a past life, I wondered, that required me to pay off my karmic debts in this manner?

I was soon to discover that not flossing is, in fact, the eighth deadly sin.

Unfortunately, my wait in the examining room was not as brief as my stint in waiting room had been, thereby giving me ample time to study the paraphernalia with which I was soon to be on intimate terms. There were, of course, the requisite sharp appendages connected to power cords, as well as cleaning devices, polishing devices, drills, pliers, jackhammers, sandblasters, a nuclear fission device....

I noticed an odd-looking tank in the corner, which I took to be laughing gas. Didn't matter. Nothing about this experience was even remotely funny.

I stared at the Dixie cup that they euphemistically called the "rinse sink," and looked away with a sigh. No way was that thing big enough to hold my lunch, which was considering an unscheduled return visit.

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I was interrupted from my reverie by Torquemada and his henchman, the hygienist. I think her name was Bubbles, though I'm not sure. I had a tough time understanding her over the buzz of a chain saw from the next room and the cracking of her gum. At least I hoped it was gum and not my jawbone.

What am I saying? Of course it was gum. Trident, probably -- as four out of five sadists recommend to their victims who chew gum.

They began the torture subtly, telling me that they first wanted to take x-rays. This most subtle terror started with the insertion of plastic tri-folded objects between my teeth; objects which have the texture of cardboard, the taste of an empty gun barrel, and the flexibility of a concrete divider. To add insult to injury, they then told me to bite down.

This is a bit like telling Bill Clinton to go vegetarian. In the vernacular, it ain't happenin'.

Unfortunately, I was in no position to argue. I had a mouthful of plastic.

[  bounced back  ]

At this point, they asked me if there were any chance of pregnancy. Puzzled, I wondered what this had to do with anything. My sister-in-law was pregnant; did that count? I tried to ask, but quickly realized the futility of that maneuver and simply shook my head. She probably meant me, anyway; after all, my sister-in-law wasn't covered under my dental insurance. However, the question did raise some nasty suspicions in my mind.

My eyes had been shut for some time, as in times of stress I subscribe to the philosophy that if I can't see it, it can't hurt me. They snapped open, however, when I felt the twenty pound weight on my chest.

Somewhat startled, I looked down to see that they had placed a sheet over me that rather resembled a suit of armor made of Kryptonite. I became even more suspicious when Bubbles smiled encouragingly at me, cracked her gum, then ... gulp ... left the room.

For a moment, I was bewildered. Could the building be on fire, and they didn't tell me? That would be convenient, I thought wildly. If I died, I wouldn't have to come back in six months for another cleaning. Perishing in a dentist's chair, however, did seem a rather ignominious way to go. But then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it. Right next to my face, big as life.

A Star Trek phaser.

I squeezed my eyes shut again, hoping against hope that the dilithium crystals would give out or something, and I would be spared. And then ... the phaser fired.

Gradually, cautiously, I opened my eyes. The phaser had evidently been set on "stun," I decided, because I was still breathing. I sighed in relief. A reprieve.

Unfortunately, the reprieve was but a momentary one. Moments later, they were back in the room, removing the sheet from my frozen and motionless body, and prying my jaws apart to remove the now-mangled plastic things from my mouth.

"If you had that much trouble with the x-rays," the dentist tsked at me," you're going to love what we do to you next."

Great, I thought. A dentist with a sick sense of humor.

If they hadn't stunned me, I would have shot out of the chair like a cannonball the moment I felt the thing moving under my backside. I realized that a great deal of thought had gone into this session, and I briefly admired the dentist's foresight in having me immobilized before continuing with the treatment. Suddenly, my head was lower than my feet, presumably to keep me from passing out when I saw the implements they were about to stick in my mouth.

by Craig Constantine
Bubbles and Torquemada bent over me, power tools in hand, gleams in their eyes. My heart began to pound as I heard the juice beginning to flow through the equipment, the needle-sharp points and razor-sharp edges beginning to vibrate with evil intent. My mouth was suddenly dry (due in part, I admit, to the intrusion of a suction device under my tongue), my eyes wide with terror. I opened my mouth to scream, only to have cotton shoved unceremoniously between my cheek and jaw. Still under the effects of the phaser, I realized it was pointless to struggle. I could only swear years and years of divine rectitude to whatever gods were still listening, if they would only deliver me from my tormentors. My last conscious thought before I gave up the fight was that at least I would die as I had lived. A coward.

Mercifully, I blacked out.

"There, that wasn't so bad, was it? Now rinse, and you're all done."

I blinked slowly as I returned to awareness, trying not to stare in horror at the blood-spattered forms of the dentist and his assistant. Time had passed; that much I knew, but I was afraid to find out just how much. Gingerly, I sat up, hands and legs shaking. I had survived.

Hard on the heels of my relief came another horrifying thought. All those promises I made.... Good lord, did that mean I had to reform?

"Stop and see the receptionist on the way out." the dentist said. "She'll schedule you for your next appointment."

Next appointment? Are you kidding?

I stumbled out of the examining room to the front door before a wide smile spread over my face. If I had to come back, I figured that let me off the hook as far as divine bargaining went. A return visit definitely qualified as breach of contract.

It was with a lighter step that I left the dentist's office and headed for home. Now, if I can just survive my gynecologist appointment next week....

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