For weeks there has been a coupon clipped from a recent Sunday newspaper on my desk. With colorful pictures of seafood the promise of $3.oo off any two lunch entrees from the Red Lobster made me aware of the end game that awaits when a series of dental appointments concludes.
At the age of 49 one of those dental emergencies happened that some may have just accepted, but I could not abide.
So Houston, we are just six days from launching a new smile. And having some crab cakes!
I told James when I saw the coupon, knowing the general time frame for the completion of the dental work, that this outing was going to be our reward. There had to be something special at the end of this dental process, as going to the dentist is not my favorite activity. No one likes going, but I have had so many trips to a dental chair since a boy that I have a right to clip a coupon and plan an outing for compensation.
I was not blessed at birth with a dimple in my chin or upper body strength. But I did come with plenty of teeth. My first dentist, Doctor Garrow in Princeton, told my parents when I was a young teenager that I had 10 pounds of teeth in a 5-pound sack of a mouth. My jaw was small, and yet all the teeth wanted to come in. Lord, they came in everywhere! As a boy I even had two teeth that came in behind my front teeth, in the roof of my mouth!
I am not joking when talking about dental chairs and the drama that unfolds in them for me.
With a gag reflex second to none I have made more than one dentist mighty nervous. None more so than Garrow who found out I was serious about the limits of his antics in my mouth when as a boy I vomited on him. Since that day I always boycott food prior to seeing anyone wearing a white frock.
Doctor Garrow was a strange man in that he always wanted to plant his far-right-wing politics into my head. Even as a young boy I knew there was something unsettling about his pleas for the last white man to bring the American flag with him when leaving Miami. That wasn’t why I threw up on the poor man, but in later years there was a certain humor to it when reflecting on his politics.
My dad would drive me to Princeton and I still recall my deep dread as we neared the outskirts of that town. I can still see the landscape in my head with the barns and cows grazing so peaceful, and hearing my dad tell me that everything would be fine and in an hour we would be headed home for lunch.
I recall one of those homeward trips and the news of Howard Hughes’ death being reported on the car radio. The reporter announced the strange ending to Hughes’ life, including his notoriously long fingernails. I remember my dad asking how he drove a car that way, and how we laughed over what that might have looked like. It has always been comforting to me that I had many ‘radio moments’ in the car with dad. As I get older those stand out more and more.
The most horrible experience with Garrow was the pulling of one of the ‘roof-top’ teeth. That night back home the bleeding would not stop, and it was so bad that very early the next morning a call was placed to the dentist and he greeted us as we entered his office. Whatever Garrow shoved into the hole to stop the flow was perhaps the most pain I have ever felt in my entire life.
Is it any wonder I now pop a Lorazepam before seeing a dentist?
After exiting the dentist office yesterday I thought about the light-hearted skip in my walk. It was akin to the way I felt as a kid once I got out of Garrow’s office and went down the little incline of a hill to where my dad had the car parked. All was right with the world.
Just as lunch awaited for Dad and me back home in Hancock those many years ago, James and I went home and ate lunch around our table.
There is comfort in continuity.