I have this weird thing about dentists. I have always taken extremely good care of my teeth because my dad always told me the story of national health care in England. When he was a kid, the dentist had come to the school to work on the students' teeth. My dad had to have a tooth removed, only they didn't give him enough anethesia and he woke up during the procedure. They couldn't give him any more anesthesia so he had to suffer through the removal without drugs. Plus, he had a removable bridge that he would shove out with his tongue and terrify me. I never wanted to be able to do that.
When I was a teenager I went to a very nice dentist in Worthington, OH. Worthington was the hoity-toity sister of Columbus, straight up High Street but a totally different world. It was a very old-money kind of place and I lived in a house on the corner of 161 on the last official block of "Old Worthington". That meant something in that town at that time. "Old Worthington" residents had to be rich (we weren't, of course, but my dad was a well-known scientist so it was okay). Ted Sorenson's niece lived down the street from me (JFK's Speechwriter) and the busiest Dairy Queen in America served blizzards to all of the teenagers who snuck out of the high school at lunch time. The kids were all sons and daughter's of CEO's and corporate big-wigs who partied hard and drank to get drunk. Alcoholism ran rampant among my class because liquor was just so damned accessible. Ma and Pa Richie Rich would never think of locking their liquor cabinets. The little Lords and Ladies would never, ever drink, would they?
But I digress, I am talking about my dentist. Anywho, the dentist office was just up the street from the town square. Not quite in "Old Worthington" but still in its protective shield where "nothing bad could ever happen here (at least not that you would know)" and the man was quite nice. One day I had an appointment for a regular cleaning and as I sat in the chair singing through a musical number in my head, I was very surprised to see the most gorgeous man EVER enter the room. My jaw actually dropped open and I started to stutter. The doctor introduced himself as the new partner in the practice and asked if it would be okay if he took my appointment today. I was really uncomfortable with this incredibly sexy man being so close to me, but what was I supposed to say, "Um...you're just too damn hot to have your hands in my mouth?" So I agreed and he was very professional and thorough. But I left wondering what happened to my old dentist.
Later that week the story broke that my dentist (the original one, not the hottie) was in jail awaiting sentencing. It seems that he had agreed to do some cosmetic dental surgery on his mistress. Only his mistress was cheating on him and he had found out about it. So, when he had her under anethesia, he maimed her in such a way that she was left with permanent nerve damage in her face. Worthington was stunned. It was so inappropriate to air your dirty laundry in such a fashion.
But it has left me with this odd, lingering fear of getting dental work done. The one time I have ever had to have a cavity filled the dentist had to give me two stress balls to hold because the sound of the drill made me shrivel and writhe nervously. Last week I had an appointment for my regular cleaning. The dental hygenist was friendly and chatted while she worked. But in the 30 minutes that she worked on my teeth, she never told me there had been a change in the dental practice. She rang for the dentist and instead of my normal dentist there was a new man, not a hottie, but the change made me wary. Then he discovered that the one cavity that I had had sealed was leaking and I would need to have it fixed. I was stunned and nervous and felt my blood pressure rising. Suddenly, out of my mouth popped, "I'll need some squishy balls." And I started squeezing my hands open and shut rapidly to show him. I don't know why.
The dentist's eyes got very large as he warily watched my hands do their squishy ball dance and he said, "Excuse me?"
"Squishy balls...I need them for the procedure to squeeze. They keep me calm." I responded, still pumping my hands just in case the term squishy balls didn't cue him to my impending sense of doom.
"STRESS balls," the hygenist blurted out, "she means STRESS balls."
The dentist told her to schedule the appointment and left the room. But, amazingly enough, when I went in for the procedure, I had my old dentist back. I guess the new one felt the need to protect...something.