Out of breath I put on my mask, press the door bell then stand back two meters and wait. I check my phone. I don’t want to be too early or late. Like Goldilocks I am just right. The door opens to reveal a masked face. I’m invited inside. I haven’t stepped over the threshold of anywhere but my own home in weeks.
Directed to a mat, I stand on it and am squirted with hand sanitiser. After being peppered with questions a white plastic gun is pointed at my forehead. I imagine the red tracer jittering over my damp skin. Will I trigger an alarm and be pinned to the ground by burly men in aviators and wearing earpieces? No. I’m waved through.
In another time this would be the cold open for an espionage thriller and I would tear off my face to reveal I am actually Tom Cruise. Fortunately I am not Tom Cruise. I am taller and I am not here to download secrets to my thumbdrive while evading security.
I am at the dentists for the second time in several weeks.
The first visit was prompted after eating a toasted bagel and discovering a significantly sized object that was neither tuna nor cheese nor bagel in my mouth. It was almost a quarter of a tooth. That begged the question of if it was my tooth or someone else’s and if it was someone else’s would that be worse than if it were mine.
A quick probe with my tongue revealed jagged new terrain that confirmed it was mine. I groaned.
The offending toasted bagel
I am a big whiny baby about the dentist. Even the prospect of an appointment makes me sweat. I don’t like needles. I don’t like drills. I don’t like the sound of drills keening in my mouth and I don’t like the smell of drills burrowing into the buttery remnants of my teeth. I don’t like drills anywhere near me while I am conscious, basically. Certainly not in my gob which is chock full of sensitive nerve endings.
Marathon Man is not a movie I ever want to see again.
It is times such as these that I wish I was Wolf Watson. Impervious to pain or gentle reflection, he would decline any sort of anaesthetic and tell the dentist to do her worst. I imagine him lying there completely relaxed while humming along to the whine of the drill and that song by Train that is always playing in the background. Isn’t the needle in the gums bad enough without throwing in Train? More likely he would skip the dentist altogether, whip out the Donkey Friend and…and that’s about as far as I want to go with this sentence.
My first visit to the dentist resulted in a patch which avoided the need for needles and drills. The only pain was upon receiving the bill. A week later the patch fell out while I was eating a sandwich. It wasn’t even toasted.
A month after that and I am back in the dentist’s chair digging my fingernails into my sweaty palms. A tray of instruments is laid out next to me. One of the instruments is a needle. I am going to need a filling.
Fortunately my dentist is very gentle and seems to have picked up on my nervous state. Probably it is part of being very good at your job to be sensitive to your patients. Or it could be that my daughter once told her I was scared of the dentist back when we used to go to appointments together. I imagine there is a post it note stuck inside my file that simply reads: wuss.
My dentist informs me that nine out of ten times a patch works.
I’m just lucky, I guess.