Wednesday, May 30, 2012


It happens to everyone, but we never talk about it. It’s something you won’t even share with your most intimate partner, something so dark, so completely painful and terrifying that it just doesn’t get mentioned in polite society. Even the fearless talking heads of the news reader shows won’t say a word about it. And if you think for a second gangs or serial killers, foreign dictators or world annihilation are the scariest things you can face you are so wrong. I have a dentist’s appointment this morning.

Now facing the dentist is bad. You know that the reason you are going there is so shameful it can’t bare talking about, cannot be condoned or admitted, there’s something wrong in your mouth.

Even in the waiting room people don’t speak. Why would you? You know that everyone there has some lurking horror in their mouths. And there’s no way to alleviate the tension, the waiting room is stocked with magazines so old that the headlines read, “Will Clinton Beat Bush?”

Then there’s the art. Or can you call it art? Ships in gray seascapes with gulls and maybe a playful otter, and I have nothing against furry sea mammals or boats, but they are presented in such a way as to offer no offense to anyone. Can anything designed to be completely neutral be exciting, eye-catching or compelling?

So there you sit waiting to go back and have the techs fill your mouth with tools and then ask conversational questions. Try to answer intelligently with a scaler in your mouth.

And then the dentist comes in and starts to cluck cause you know you haven’t done all of the things they told you to do the last time you were there. Or, there’s something really wrong and it needs to be fixed.

Fortunately modern dentistry has come up with the prefect anesthetic, shock. When you find out how much it is going to cost to fix the problem in your mouth you will curl into a fetal ball and slip quietly into a coma.

Now my dentist is a good guy, who actually listens. There are medical folks who by virtue of their vast education and extensive schooling have lost the ability to hear. They nod and tilt their heads and you think they are listening to every word and then they go and do what they were going to do in the first place.

Which is a good thing cause I don’t actually know a lot about dentistry and I find it particularly hard to work inside my mouth while lying on my back and I don’t know much about drugs except for that time, ten or so years in the Sixties, but then maybe because of the drugs I don’t have much recall from that whole decade so maybe it’s a good idea to have someone who was too young to enjoy the Sixties and was in school learning all that stuff and might actually have access to a PDR, (Physicians Desk Reference) which is a much better way to learn about the effects of drugs and their interactions than by trail and error and the evidence of Keith Richards and Steven Tyler should be plenty to scare anyone straight, so a trained dentist is the way to go, but maybe you should use your own skills to do something about their office?

While they were up to their elbows in receding gums and questionable teeth you were out gathering images and experiences to make into undying art so it seems reasonable to let the dentist do the dentisting and you do something about the horrible, boring, ordinary art in their office.

There is nothing that will make going to the dentist a pleasure trip, there’s no cruise director Julie on the dock and Tatoo won’t come running in screaming, “De Pain, de Pain…!”, sorry dentists are now painless, but if you compare it to something really awful like being eaten by a shark or an IRS audit going to the dentist starts to look really good.

And you can help your professional service provider by offering to share your art in his or her waiting room. They do things you can’t do to keep you doing the things that you can do so why don’t you do the thing you can do to make their thing doing an exciting experience for those trapped in a waiting room?

Want a really challenging idea for a reality show, put a dozen dirty people in bikinis in a waiting room and tell then if they can’t find one article more current than the end of World War II, an unpaid intern borrowed from the oyster farm will do their fillings. Now that my friends is a real Survivor challenge!

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