Friday, May 19, 2006

"Just a friendly reminder..."

I got to thinking this morning about going to the dentist. No reason in particular, it jus came to mind.

What is it about going to the dentist that really freaks everybody out? Most of the time they count all your teeth to make sure you haven't lost anymore since your last visit, and if you have, they just clean any that remain. So what's all the anxiety about?

Well, when I was little, I went to Dr. Griffith. I considered him to be sort of an odd man. His uniform always consisted of a tight white dentist shirt cover that had buttons running diagonally up from waist to collar with a pair of plaid pants. I'm not sure if they were the same pair of pants, but all plaid kind of looks the same.

He was thin and tall and didn't have much to say. Any time my mom took me to see him, his wife/receptionist would always lead my to a back room with a brown vinyl reclining chair, open a drawer, and take out a peice of paper towel and a chain with two pincers on the ends. She'd clip one end of the paper towel and run the chain behind my neck and clip the other side, making a bib. I always wondered what the point of that was, why a chain and paper towel? Why not a terry-cloth bib with velcro, or maybe one of those plastic ones you get at a restaurant when you eat lobster- maybe instead of a lobster there could be a characature of a big healthy tooth holding a toothbrush and wearing sunglasses...or something along those lines.

Anyhow, it was always the norm. Every single strange ritual that was preformed didn't seem so strange. It was the same scene everytime. It was worse than deja` vu, only because there were weird things happening, but I never bothered to question it. Until now.

Why the paper towel and chain? Why the scary looking drill with a rubber suction cup bit on the end? It's pretty frightening looking. And how exactly does it clean your teeth? They've always got that little tiny paper cup, it looks like the same ones that you squirt ketchup into at Wendy's. And in that little tiny paper kethcup cup, there's about a teaspoon of grainy blue paste. They scoop it out with the little suction cup drill bit and turn on the "vibrate" and rub it all over your teeth. How's that going to do anything? Seriously, everytime I leave the dentists office, I've got all that blue grit stuck in between my teeth. My mouth does not feel fresh and clean, it feels like a bit into a big blue sand sandwhich and I really ought to go home and floss. There is no way to rinse that stuff out enough, even with the dixie cup that automatically refills itself with water. You need a hose with a power spray, or you might even need to break open a fire hydrant and stick your face in the geyser.

Whenever Dr. Griffith finished up with me, he'd either call my mother back into the room or he'd lead me out to the waiting area. I never knew which was coming. If I had a cavity or a clean bill of health, he never gave me a clue. But I do know that you always feel like you're in a little bit of trouble when you go to the dentist.

I mean you're in that chair, laying back, you've got people shoving their big hands into you're mouth. You have to remain submissive and let them do it, there's no choice in the matter. Where else in life do people make you lay back, crack your mouth wide open, stick wads of cotton in and then shine a big hot light in your eyes and force you to answer questions? Then they start in with that evil hook and scrape around your teeth and no matter how "careful" they say they'll be, they always catch your gums and cause excessive bleeding. You feel like you're being interogated and tortured with midevial instruments and then obligated to thank these people and come back for another round a few months later.

I need to make an appointment. Really, my six month checkup has come and gone, I should go. I've had that postcard pinned to the fridge for a while now. You know the one. The reminder card. "Just a friendly reminder..." it says on the front. I also recieved a reminder from my OBGYN's office, although that came enclosed in an envelope and read like an old wired message, "Our records show that you are due for a Pap Smear [STOP] Please call to make your appointment [STOP]" That's not one to look forward to either, but I must say that a gynocologist tends to be a lot more gentle and sensitive, a dentist knows that you know what you're in for and you anticipate pain and dicomfort, he feels under pressure to deliver. But at least there's no paper bibs and chains.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"I'm living in a fish bowl!!!"


Me: I believe the question is, "What did Grandma shriek out when calling Mom early in the morning?"

Alex Trebek: That is right.

I suppose you thought I'd take this opportunity to have a little fun with the David Blane special. Special. It sure was. An entire two hours of prime-time television dedicated to all things special and David Blane. But, I'm not going to tell you a bunch of things all those late night guys already said. Well, I don't know what they all said since I go to bed at ten, but let's move on.

I will say that the title of this stunt was more than brilliant. David Blane: Drowned ALIVE! That's right, David Blane....drowned.....ALIVE! Well, let's just talk about what an amazing feat that is, not only will he be drowned, but he'll be alive when it happens. Who knew? I thought that it was only possible to drown whilst living and that once someone dies of drowning they're considered drownED, as in, "The cause of death, well she was bobbing for apples, never came up for air, and she drowned."

Why, wasn't the whole point of it all to actually just hold his breath and not drown? Holding your breath for nine minutes has almost nothing to do with drowning, when you think about it. He didn't even have to be under water to do it. He could have held his breath sitting in his living room an egg timer. Oh, but we had to be all dramatic and go into a big plexi-glass bowl full of cloudy looking water and get our hands an feet all nasty and water-logged. And we had to have chains and handcuffs to undo on top of all that. Oh enough, already. It's his own fault he didn't make it. He should have stuck to the basics, just run of the mill holding his breath underwater for nine minutes. Hop in, pinch your nose, and make big cheeks until time's up.

Looking at him in that tank left me tempted to shake some fish food onto the surface and tap on the glass. I would have like to have gotten him a treasure chest that periodically flipped it's lid to burp some fresh air bubbles. He needed some colorful aqarium pepples on the bottom or something, the way they were keeping him, he might as well have been in that big plastic baggie from pet store.

But try, if you will to imagine what it would be like to live in a fish bowl, with the whole world watching you float around, and how exposed you would feel. I couldn't quite grasp what the saying meant when the phone rang early one morning. My mom answered in a voice that sounds close to Andre the Giant's which is what she ussually sounds like if she hasn't had enough time to wake up.


"I'm living in a fish bowl!!!!" a small, scared voice cries. It was Grandma. Apparently sometime after she woke up in her studio apartment , the curtain rod to the one very large and only window gave way and took all her privacy down with it. She was still in, what she would call, her dressing gown. She knew that everyone who happened by Solon Road or the complex parking lot would surely be looking up at the top floor and find her indecent. For her, this was an emergency, of course second to her having only three packs of cigarettes left in her carton of Belairs.

The whole world was watching as blue curls of smoke framed a tiny woman, shaking in her nightie as she peered down into the parking lot below, waiting for her daughter's car to pull in.