Yesterday I went to the dentist.
It was just for a check-up and clean. I was quite pleased with myself because I was not too worried. I felt virtuous since I had got my electronic tooth-brush for Christmas and hoped to use it to fend off the need for false teeth.
I have always had a morbid fear of getting falsies. I had always believed that false teeth were thrust onto us, when we were in our mid-forties, that suddenly our teeth fell out at that age. That was the age that my parents got theirs. Even as a child I remember my parents clacking their falsies around in their mouths. I shuddered when I came upon the teeth nestling in their own private little bath, sitting on the bathroom bench. Grinning up at me like some dental nightmare.
I had visions of shooting my teeth across the room when I sneezed, sucking on my gums as I anticipated a lovely glass of wine, or just plain losing them and painfully finding them later when I sat down on the couch.
When I was a teenager we had a 100 year old lady stay with us for a few months. I remember once she was sitting there clacking her falsies and contemplating a nice cuppa.
"Can you hold these for me," she said to my mum.
Mum held out her hand, expecting the handkerchief in her hand, and was rewarded with a handful of drool-covered grin.
Needless to say, the only reason I keep attending the dentist is to prevent this for as long as possible
My dentist is an angel and treats me like the on-the-edge, nervous looney that I am - I call him Super Dentist. The latest thing when I visit is for me to be sent to a different room to visit the 'dental hygienist' for the clean, when he used to perform this as well as the checkup. It costs more $, but I don't complain, as nobody else would take on a nut job like me.
The dental hygienist was a polite young lady, I could tell straight away that she was nervous. I lay down on the chair and began my nervous, uncontrollable quaking. She started the cleaning and for a moment I wondered if there was an earthquake. Then I realised that she was shaking too. I mean really shaking - we were at the same vibration level.
I began to panic. My shaking increased three-fold. The dental chair turned into a vibrating massage chair. The dental implements on the little table attached began to dance a not-so-merry jig.
I remembered that I still hadn't made my will. I pictured large slashes in my gums, and inside my mouth.
After a few minutes, she stopped and left the room. My dentist appeared in the doorway and I heard her murmur that she wasn't ready yet.
Then he took over, and I could have jumped out of the chair and squeezed his delicious self. At the end he declared himself pleased with me, and said that I would get a lolly, and also a stamp on my hand.
As for the dental hygienist, I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for her. I saw in her a fellow awkwardist and shy person. I know what it's like to be placed in a situation that puts you somewhere new and confronting - that suddenly tests your carefully set limited boundaries. My automatic response is just like hers. The vibration lets us know we are still alive, it is built within us and we have no control over how our body reacts.
In telling this story, I do not intend to demean or make fun of her in any way. Cudos to her, I say. She should be so proud. She tried, and she accepted that she wasn't ready yet. I was chuffed to meet a fellow awkwardist, and also in the way Super Dentist smoothed the way for her. I got a warm fuzzy feeling. It was almost a Hallmark/Dental moment.
I had obviously had the honour of being her first ever real client. I made sure to thank her profusely when I left.
I shook my way out to the car and drove home. With me inside it, my car was doing the Harlem Shuffle down the highway - it was probably an awesome sight to behold to the other drivers on the road.
Halfway through my drive home, I realised that I never got my lolly or the stamp on my hand for being a "good girl".