Friday, April 17, 2009

Getting Cleaned


This column won 3rd place in America's Funniest Humor Writing Contest and has since been published in several Dental Association magazines and newsletters throughout the U.S. and Canada.

I was working hard at home, in the middle of a difficult task in my office, when I was distracted by the business line ringing. I paused my game (ahem) and answered the phone…

“Mr. Crawford, this is Ilsa, ‘She-Wolf of the SS’ calling from the dentist’s office, with a reminder that you are overdue for your teeth cleaning. Again. Please report to the office immediately or we’ll burn down your house.”

I’m just kidding – she didn’t really say ‘report to the office’.

So I prepare for my date with destiny two days hence. This means brushing one’s teeth so violently that your spouse suspects you have come down with a virulent new strain of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

“You’re not fooling anyone you know,” my wife said. “And don’t floss so hard either – look at all the gunk on the mirror. It’s disgusting.”

I brush and floss sixteen times per day, unlike my usual two. Well, four if the hygienist is asking.

This attempt at atonement is akin to hitting the gym nine times per day, beginning two days before your Caribbean cruise departure. Or driving conservatively when the gas gauge in the car is nearing empty.

The Day arrived.

I found myself deep in enemy territory, resisting their clever interrogation techniques. I surrendered only what is allowed under the Geneva Convention - name, address, dental plan number.

In the waiting room, I frantically ate an entire bag of Oreo cookies in a show of defiance to my captors. As my cheeks bulged, The Torture Beast herself, wearing a perky red jumpsuit, no doubt to hide the blood stains, emerged from her lair.

She smiled charmingly, spittle dripping from her fangs as she grinned her evil grin, and dragged me by the hand into the nearest chamber.

There, armed with the tiny, hideous metal implements of her trade, she tirelessly poked, prodded and scraped my mouth back to a condition of hygienic perfection unseen in years.

I nearly bled to death.

At some point in this process, punctuated by her cries of “Please stop screaming Mr. Crawford!” and “Security, tighten the straps!” she ushered in the great man himself.

The Dentist.

He was wearing a mask (as all professional torturers do), and proceeded to open my clenched jaw by asking me an innocuous question about my golf game, then plunging his fingers into my mouth when I attempted to answer.


Using the little magnifier thingy’s on his glasses, he examined my teeth and called out strange coded messages to his assistant, Igor.

“Number 28, Stan Musial on third, humidor molar…”

“7th at Belmont, 25 on Bicuspid to win…”

Something like that anyway.

After more poking and speaking in tongues, he said “Everything looks good I’ll have to take some x-rays and everything you need done will be ten thousand dollars rinse please!”

I may have passed out at that point.

After he had his way with me (so to speak), I didn’t think I could endure any more, brave though I had been up to that point. Alas, my story doesn’t end there.

I still had to survive the Getting the Teeth Rubbed with Gritty Mud Technique, and the Mouthful of Minty Foam Procedure. All the while they were plying me for information – knowledge about the weather or my business or my children.

I resisted as best I could.

I’m not clear on how I got away. I remember brief flashes of things - running with the paper bib flapping around my neck, leaping over a waiting room coffee table, writing a cheque – it’s all a blur.

I have recovered for the most part. I still get the odd flashback, but I’m fine. Really. Thanks for asking.

Just remember to keep some floss in your Escape and Evasion kit. It is useful stuff when you need tripwires or booby traps.

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