There's not much worse, in my opinion, than sitting for 4-1/2 hours (count them!) in your dentist's reclining version of Dante's 9th Level of Hell (Click here for a test to see which level of Dante's hell you'll be banished to). My dentist warned me that it might be a long visit and said I might be as long as 3 hours -- the big fibber.
So on Tuesday I went prepared with things to keep me busy. I brought two novels, C.S. Lewis's Literary Essays, my Alpha Smart, notebook paper, notes from my work in progress, and even a Land's End Overstock catalogue.
The first hour passed rather pleasantly. I finished reading the first novel and cracked open the second. It seemed familiar. By page 3 I realized I'd read it two years ago. The catalogue only held my attention for about 5 minutes until I realized that all the sizes were far too small for my soccer-mom body. Next I began reading C.S. Lewis and while I am fascinated by his essays, even in the best of times (and the dental office is way below worst of times) I have to do mental gymnastics to keep up with him. Wasn't gonna happen.
After 37 shots of novocaine (okay, it wasn't really 37, it just seemed like it), the second hour passed with hair-raising accoutrements being crammed inside my pea-sized mouth, then being forcibly evicted -- like a tenant who has overstayed his lease.
During the next break, my brain was in no condition to return to good ol' C.S., so I then opened my book notes. I'm writing a romp, but couldn't feel less romp-like, so I discarded that idea as the dentist returned and ripped my lips from my face (well, that's what it felt like).
I needed a different story. Perhaps I should write something involving a serial killer with a tooth-fetish? A Frankenstein-ish creature with a drill? A beach-bum hopped up on nitrous-oxide?
When I was given a break after the third hour of agony, I ran for the bathroom, locked the door and wondered what they'd do if I refused to come out and return to the torture recliner?
The cute dental assistant Intern tapped nervously on the door after about 15 minutes and asked if I was still conscious. I assured her I was (earlier I'd assured her that I wouldn't bite her but only kept that promise for the first 2-1/2 hours, so I'm not sure she believed me this time). She asked if I planned to come out. Now this Intern was really sweet, really young, and this was her first day ever working in a dental office after 8 months of schooling. Could my conscience handle the responsibility of scaring her off the job? Ohhhh, yeah. It could. I truly thought about opening the door and running for the exit.
The problem was that my tooth had been readied, but my temporary crown was not on it yet. Once the novocaine wore off, I'd regret skeddadling before the dentist finished with me. With a sigh, I agreed to return to the hot seat.
Another hour and a half later, I finally got to leave, but was hell-day over yet? Not by a long shot. At the desk on my way out, I was forced to pay big bucks for my anguish.
I plan for revenge, though, because I managed to plot a new story with oh-so-coincidentally a villain whose first name is identical to my dentist's. The last time I had a long visit like this one, I ended up plotting (and selling to a confessions magazine) a short story about an evil dentist. Pay back can be lucrative :D -- Kathy Carmichael