Friday I was back at the dentist yet again. I've had a lot of dentistry in the last year and a half. This is mainly because I had no dentistry at all for the six years previous. (Let that be a lesson, blah blah blah flosscakes.) I've had several new fillings, several replaced fillings, a root canal, and then, when the root canal tooth got brittle and broke, a crown, which then chipped after three weeks and had to be replaced. Hopefully I'm done for a while. My co-workers were beginning to tease me about having a thing for my dentist (so not true!) and it's been rather expensive.
Whenever I'm there, though, I tend to think about how oddly intimate the experience is. It's not just having people's fingers in your mouth -- it's having your chest used as a shelf for instruments, people's hands squashed against your nose, covering your eyes, having your head jammed up against the dentist's middle. It's probably just as well you can't carry on any conversation because how awkward would that be?
The medical intimacy we're supposed to ignore, not form relationships around, unlike the grooming intimacy of hair stylists and the like. I wonder why that is. Maybe because grooming is a usual thing, evolutionarily speaking (so why don't we do more of it?) and medical things are invasive. So to keep it from bothering us, we have to almost pretend that it isn't happening.
I've had so much dentistry that I'm worried that it's getting too familiar. That I'm beginning to enjoy it in a twisted way. Do you remember Little Shop of Horrors? In one scene, Steve Martin is playing a sadistic dentist. Then in comes Bill Murray, the masochistic dental patient.
"I think I need a root canal," he says. "A long, slow root canal."
I hope it doesn't come to that for me. I just don't have the money.