Crown No. 14
I sat down brusquely on the dentist’s chair feeling I was about to get routed in some manner. Mint green all about the place. The trickling of water somewhere by my knees.
“Do you want the serial bicuspid?” he said, holding out what seemed to be a verdigris premolar.
“No, I want tooth number 14, for goodness sake,” I said.
“Do you have a nightclub act?” he said, and quickly came at my face with a syringe.
“Listen,” I said pulling at the bib on my chest popping it away from the clip. “I’ll be back. I have to go to the restroom and stare at my penis in the mirror for 23 seconds. And then I need to hear the cantering of calico ponies before I can submit to crown number 14.”
He said he would accompany me to the restroom and do the extraction while holding up my shirt, but he was by no means going to look at me, or any other part of my anatomy, but my mouth.
“It’s not about that,” I said. “This isn’t a sexual thing. But listen, why don’t you wear your surgical mask over your eyes while you extract my tooth? I’ll guide you by tapping out in Morse code where you are relative to tooth number 14.”
“I don’t know Morse code,” he said. He grabbed a handful of sharp implements from the tray and led me down the hall toward the restroom.
“All the better,” I said. “I don’t know Morse code either, but I’ll moan you through it. Maybe you’ll take out a couple of the wrong teeth, or maybe you’ll accidentally chip a few teeth. I’d like that.”
He stopped short by the fish tank. I could hear the hissing of the aerator. All the tropical fish were gone; only the aquarium snails were visible lined up on the inside glass in a formation that spelled “NO.”
“Do you realize that you’re the only patient that comes in to have his teeth ruined?” He took a handful of small blue rocks from the aquarium floor. “Blueberry bubble gum rocks,” he said, and popped them into his mouth.
“That’s me,” I said. “Eight shows a week, two on the weekends. I like to stand out from the crowd. Why do you think I wear these mesh tank tops given the awful shape I’m in — to show off my deltoids or pectorals?” I slapped at my gelatin chest.
“No. I want everyone to enjoy these rolls of fat.” I reached down and grabbed three spare tires muffined over my belt. “Ridge upon mighty ridge. I want to set my jiggle to glory!”
“You are quite unique in all the most unexpected ways,” he said. “Do you do a nightclub act? Do you know any Englebert?”
“Let’s go, doc! Put that mask over your eyes and let’s extract this sucker.”
“The traumatic event itself, however horrendous, had a beginning, a middle, and an end, but I now saw that flashbacks could be even worse. You never know when you will be assaulted by them again and you have no way of telling when they will stop.”
— Bessel Van Der Kolk / The Body Keeps the Score