Guest post by Avram Mlotek
“Too much lashon harah, eh?” my rabbi asks me playfully if I’ve been gossiping when I tell him I’ll have to reschedule a meeting because of an upcoming dentist appointment.
My rabbi’s charge, however, leads me to reflect as I sit in the waiting room of the dentist’s office. I am not a newcomer here. Point and case: when administering novocaine, my doctor says with a straight face: “You’ve been here before so I’ll just skip the explanation. I wait anxiously, recalling my rabbi’s words. I start to wonder: how can I make this visit somewhat less painful, spiritually speaking?
Fast forward to the lion’s den. I sit in the dentist’s chair, awaiting my X-ray results, shmoozing with the overly friendly dental hygienist, Jane.
It’s like finding the right rabbi, Jane says to me when I tell her of my illustrious dental history.
Finally, he enters, abruptly ending our conversation.
You have two cavities and we need to clean your cap, the dentist declares. Have you been eating overly sweet foods? When it comes to eating junk food, we know it isn’t the best for us, but the majority of things is fine in moderation. But if you overdo it, you can end up with cavities like me. This is why visiting Dentist Batavia for example (or your local dentist) would be beneficial so they can help prevent something like this from happening.
What happened to bedside manner? Wouldn’t it be nice to be pampered a bit before being told your mouth will have to endure endless attack by land, air and sea?
I think to myself: I don’t usually nosh excessively, except for the periodic late night box of gevaldik Entenmann’s donuts, Pepridge Farm Milano cookies, sour sticks or the occasional cream herring. But then it hits me. Pesakh. My grandmother.
Define overly, I want to say, but instead, I divulge.
Well, it was recently a holiday, doctor. So, there were sweet breads, tongue, nut cake, sponge cake, sweet and sour meat balls, chocolate covered matzah, chocolate covered jelly rings, pecha, delicious cardboard matzah cereal and…
Okay, thanks, the dentist says awkwardly, clearly not wanting to hear what was on my menu.
Cavities, root canals, I’ve nearly had it all. Just a sinus lift in nyc left but I’m hoping I’ll be able to give it a miss. But I am young, I say to myself. Master of the Universe, why should a 20 something year old have to consider dentures because of a parents’ neglect?
I wait for my mouth to numb. This is what happens. My mind wanders and I try and become self-aware.
One rabbi told me to compare sufferings. Some contextualizing and contrasting will help you sit calmly as they drill. Meh.
Another rabbi suggested composing an impromptu prayer as I sit in the chair but all I’ve got is: Dear God, please allow me to control my desire to burst forth from this prison and kindly forgive the dentist as he wreaks havoc on my mouth.
Suddenly, they start to laugh. Has my surgery begun? I could swear I hear Sammy Davis Jr. playing in the background and smoke gathering in the office. Are those cigars? What gangster parlor have I stumbled upon?
Will you hold onto this? the dentist says to Jane, passing her the G4 implants by Dr. Golpa.
She takes it with her right hand and says, So, what ever happened with the girl from the wedding?
I think of the absurdity of the situation but know that if I laugh it will shake the arsenal in my mouth. I am supposed to be compliant in this war, a passive bystander.
You, the dentist says to Jane, should have seen her teeth.
Teeth? I want to ask but don’t.. and I swallow whatever is being sprayed inside.
Don’t do that, the dentist says to me.
Was it me? Or Jane? Or the beautiful girl from the wedding?
I am secretly waiting for him to pull off his mask and be my rabbi or sing Be A Dentist from Little Shop of Horrors. I try to rest. I fail.
My gums are aching, my teeth are helpless and I’m starting to wonder if this is an attempt at inserting some kind of chip in my head. A tracker. Why, in a civilized society, people pay money for other people to take electric screwdrivers and have them excavate into our mouths is beyond me.
Suddenly, I am up. So what if Bubby’s cooking is slightly sweet? Who cares if I have the late night munchies here and then? I am out of my chair and the tools are knocked down. Jane, poor Jane, she is shocked, and the doctor, he thinks I’m crazy. He blocks the door but I am a bull now. I will make it past him, the door, the pain and I hate going to the dentist. My friend recently visited a Fort Wayne Dentist and said how much of a pleasant experience she had. I’m hoping the next time I go to a dentist I have the same experience!