Thursday, March 29, 2007

When I Wake Up in the Morning and it's Quarter to Seven

A couple weeks back, following a string of drinking events in which friends' Flickr accounts are more likely to be categorized as "evidence" than "nostalgia," I decided to take a night for laundry and self-improvement , which for girls means painting your toenails. As an added bonus, I also decided to floss my teeth, which is something I don't do very often, and of course, should. To make the world's most mundane story short, I did, my gums spat in my face , spun around on one heel, then spread vicious rumors about my performance in bed, and now I'm left with a toothache on one side. Having been without dental or medical insurance for the first 25 years of my life (though in possession of it now), and being a ridiculously healthy individual, I've been following the "Wait and See" track of treatment, in the hopes that if I ignore it, it will go away, but unfortunately, it's a no go. My one bout of dental responsibility unleashed some sort of beast, and I suspect I'm going to have to do something about it. It's not that I'm particularly squeamish, and a high tolerance for both pain and drugs means that unless my dentist is the Marathon Man, it won’t hurt that much. It's that I have no doubt that if I were to go to a dentist, my mother, ten hours upstate, would somehow, some way, find out.

I make no secret of the fact that my mother is both a dental hygienist and certifiably insane. Having my married my dad, who, thanks to an unfortunate birthing incident involving two things that should never be used in conjunction, one of which you typically use on salads, has what are medically referred to as "fucked up teeth", well, she knew a lost cause when she saw one, and so was able to channel her full oral neuroses onto me. I am certain that when I sprang forth from her womb, it was Down's-be-damned, the first thing she had the doctor count was teeth. Anyway, amongst the other dental crimes committed against me--Mentadent users, be grateful that for every minty mouthful you spit into the sink, there was a 12-year-old guinea pig out there who, upon trying the prototype formula, was somehow able to make her searing, abraded lips formulate the words "IT BURNS SO BAD"--I was also subjected to harsher than normal standards for oral hygiene, including but not limited to random plaque-stains, flossing under duress not by my own hands, rejection of romantic others on the basis of "bad teeth", and several occasions in which I was pulled out of a group of friends, handed a toothbrush from the secret flap of skin that my mother had installed for just such a storage purpose, and told to "go brush".

"It was inspiring."--My mother

My mother was also responsible for cleaning the teeth of a large portion of the village and town in which I grew up; a naturally chatty woman, I would dread my friends going in for cleanings, as they would inevitably come back with some personal information that she had spilled in the interest of full disclosure of her teenage daughter’s most secret shames. When the guy that I had a crush on for three years came back all pearly white and informed me that my mother had let loose that I both drooled in my sleep and liked the taste of communion wafers—two points that to this day, I cannot possibly connect in any sort of logical, linear conversation—I had to lay down the law about what was and was not OK to talk about to other people, which was Nothing and Everything, respectively.

Well, you know, with peanut butter on them.

When I return home for Christmas, my mother still checks my toothbrush at night to see if it is wet so that she will know if I have brushed, and if I have forgotten to brush/wet my toothbrush, I will be pulled out of bed and made to do so. Once I reached college age, I was able to assert myself enough in the bathroom to refuse to brush in front of my mother, who keeps a running color commentary on stroke methods and the latest research in brushing technology. The only thing more disappointing to my mother than when I got my first of many cavities is when I finally came out and admitted that I prefer manual toothbrushes to the myriad state-of-the-art electric toothbrushes she had been providing me with over the years, and that I had even been using a regular old Oral-B under her roof.

Nature did not intend me to stick that in my mouth.

I have sealants on teeth that were not meant to be sealed, and probably are not sealed on any other human in existence; if mine is the body they find encased in ice 150,000 years from now, it will seriously fuck up anthropology. These came during visits in which my mother would keep me in the chair for multiple hours under the guise of “just trying something”. I still go through the “treasure chest” in her office to take my prize when I get my teeth cleaned, not because I’m not stocked on Super Balls and fake tattoos, but out of spite for those children that get to sit in her chair and not get sworn at/have facial imperfections pointed out. I used to open my Christmas stocking and find the latest high-tech flossers and toothbrushes; I once received a care package at college that contained a giant, Goldbergian device with a post-it note that read “The Rolls Royce of tongue scrapers! Let me know if your friends want one.” I did not have braces as a child, due to lack of funds and the geographical reaches to which one must travel in order to find an orthodontist office in Northern NY; instead, I was given a tongue depressor and weekly checkups at the LaZBoy, then told which teeth to “pull” and which to “push” as they came in. Despite losing my final two canines at the not-in-the-least-bit awkward age of 16, they’re actually almost perfectly straight, and when I look back on old pictures, I’m able to cringe myself in half for dozens of reasons other than a metal mouth.

A fondness for fabric paint being one of them.

The point is, if she finds out, and she will, oh yes she will, it won’t be pretty. I'm sure it'll go away.

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At March 29, 2007 10:25 PM, Blogger JMH said...

My buddy had the same problem, except that his father is a proctologist.

At March 30, 2007 9:40 AM, Anonymous chinese eric said...

good god. the pushing and pulling teeth thing in lieu of braces? were you also put on a stretching rack each night during in lieu of growth spurts?

At March 30, 2007 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blogs keep getting better & better, and you have now officially passed Margaret Cho as the funniest girl in the universe. Keep it up.

At March 30, 2007 12:45 PM, Anonymous will said...

i'm also from northern ny (go red raiders), and after getting a new dentist upon my arrival in the boston area 10 years ago, i realized that my dentist for the first 22 years of my life was obviously self-taught, if not completely blind and lacking all motor-function. consider yourself lucky.

At March 30, 2007 1:01 PM, Blogger Lexi said...

I feel your pain. My dad is an OB/GYN and 1) always asks me about how my appointments go, 2) regularly asks me about my birth control regimine (this is much easier now that I am living with someone and engaged, but was very very very uncomfortable before) and 3) for my first few years of requiring a GYN, he made appoitnments with someone in his practice, and there is nothing weirder than being 18, and having to talk to your dad mere seconds after you have just had your first GYN appointment.

At March 30, 2007 4:12 PM, Blogger kat said...

i once threw up on my dentist (an incident that was immediately preceded by his saying to me, "let me try something", and then trying to shove an entire wicker handbasket into my mouth. or at least, that is what it felt like). anyway, after said incident i always thought i'd achieved the crowning glory of bad dental experiences, but now i know that i was wrong, and you are king.

At March 30, 2007 4:14 PM, Anonymous dfl said...

Yeah Red Raiders!

Also, a funny post

At March 30, 2007 4:44 PM, Blogger Lori said...

I've gotten both hit on and felt up by two different dentists - in the past year. I'm about to give up on dentists altogether.

At March 31, 2007 12:51 AM, Blogger mist1 said...

Good Lord, I love posts about oral hygiene. I have to go floss now.


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