Saturday, January 07, 2006

i salute you

Before this morning, I was ready to consign all dentists to my hate list. That was before this morning.

Since Wednesday, I was having this terrible toothache in the evenings. Nuts to that toothache. I couldn’t do anything but stare at my television and pity myself.

For the lot of people who have had toothaches, they know that a toothache is one of the most tormenting pains in the world, almost at par with your basic heartache. Of course with heartache, you can’t cure it with a pop of ibuprofen, or mefenamic acid. The rub is, with your garden variety toothache, while it subsists, you can’t just honestly ignore it. You have to suffer through it.

Maybe I can dishonestly ignore it you say? Yes, well, while I was in a bout with the frigging toothache last night, I honestly wanted to smash my chin with a hammer. Right on the spot where the offending tooth is. Dishonest, because I would be robbing the dentist of expected income; and also because it was the kind of fix that would probably be gratifying only in the split second that the hammer’s head hits my poor jaw. Dishonest, because I would be robbing myself of several sets of teeth; and, maybe, even a jaw.

Tonight, I’m enjoying a nice cup of tea and wondering what my molar, the one the dentist removed, is doing. Probably grinding it out with the other molars in the dentist’s office. (Get it? Grinding it out…. Okay. Hey doc, am I still high on morphine? I'm not? Can I be?)

Okay. Maybe it’ll be best to tell the tale by rewinding to the start of my morning.

I woke up at 0700h, prepared to brew my daily pot of coffee (4 cups). I dialed myself online so I can read or download the day’s newspapers. (And yes, because reading the news is injurious to my blood pressure these days, I’ll often just download them from their websites, upload them on my Palm, and erase them in a week, so that I can claim some more storage space for next week’s papers. [I’m too cheap to buy a bigger multimedia card.])

My brother stopped by to say Hi at around 0800h- and to remind me that I'll be paying for his wedding’s video coverage. (What? I specifically said that I’ll take care of the Invitations. What? Somebody’s already signed a contract with a printer? Fine, I’ll handle the video coverage. What? The food too? No-uh. This is the reason why I’m not getting married. Too many expenses. I can’t even buy a bigger multimedia card.) He went out of the house laughing.

Anyway, before he dropped the bomb of the video coverage, I was asking him where I could find a good dentist- a good dentist who’s not expensive. (I can’t even buy a bigger multimedia card.) He told me that it just so happened that our father had just taken him to his dentist early this week. Where was that, I asked. At the Royale Place, in front of the Ever Gotesco Mall. Okay. I know where that is. Thankyou. What? I have to pay for the video coverage…?

So I sent my dad a text message, warning him that I’ll be going to his dentist before lunch. He answers, Good. They’re okay. Here’s their number.

Then he adds, “Tell them that I’m your father. They know me.”


The last time I gave that I’mthesonofMr.Mercadospeech I was met with responses of, “Hunh?” And probably with thought bubbles of, who cares? I’m not going to use that speech later. Though I did use it. Okay, I told. But only because I was scared.

A secret technique that was used in Vietnam… and this is the first time that this technique will be revealed to the whole world: The reason why the Vietnamese beat the Americans in Vietnam is… when they captured an American, to prod the American soldier to confess, and generally blab about state secrets, what the Vietnamese do is… they wave dentist’s tools in front of the American GI while he’s strapped in a dentist’s chair.

My battalion? It’s over there, it’s over there!

Yes! Yes! The moon landing was staged. It was a fake! Just… please… don’t hurt me…!

So anyway, yes, I was scared of going to the dentist, but so were the Americans.

But my tooth was really hurting. Should I go? Maybe I can learn to live with a toothache that was there only in the evening? I asked God for a sign.

I switched on the teevee to look for an NBA game. What was on was… the Utah Jazz versus the Memphis Grizzlies.

Okay. I drove to the dentist’s.

I asked for references (to a dentist) because if there was the distinct possibility that I was going to have my tooth pulled it wasn’t going to be pulled in a holeinthewall.

Anyway, I knew that any dentist won’t give me the option of pulling out my tooth because they’d have to get rid of the swelling first.

“We’ll have to pull the tooth out.”

“What? Aren’t you going to give me something for the swelling to go down?”


Is he on to me? Does he know that once I’ve inveigled from him the name of the drug that’ll bring down the swelling in my tooth, he won’t ever see me again?

“Are you sure?”


The crappy thing about having a tooth pulled when you’re in your late twenties is that when it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Sort of like virginity.

Wouldn’t it be fun if we could be virgins as many times as we have teeth? (I once knew this girl who goes on pretending to be a virgin. Men aren’t that stupid, I’d tell her. In my head. How do you say that to someone, and not lie. Men are stupider.)


As I was contemplating teeth and virginity (See? Stupider), the dentist was already sticking a needle in my mouth.

“Wamoooltenten deehyoooda?” I asked.

“Dentists only use topical anesthesia for milk teeth. Yours is more complicated, so I have to inject you with this.”

“Yeeeeebah ee sill huh?”

“It won’t hurt.”

After that brief exchange, my anxiety level eased somewhat. This dentist had obviously topped his class in dentistry classes. He could understand me! How cool is that? I should be in safe hands.

“Aww ooooo eeee eykkkk?”

“Maybe I should inject you with anesthesia twice more so you can stop talking.”

(Ouch. Ouch.)

The dentist finally pulled my tooth out, after wrestling with it for more than an hour. And to think that among his first words to me were, “I have gentle hands.”

Yes, I felt his gentle hands for an hour. They were grasping pliers. And the pliers were grasping my tooth. The pliers, I will have to tell you, don't have "gentle hands". Come to think of it, our earlier exchange probably consisted of him saying, "I have gentle hands (winkwink)."

The result of everything is that I am now pain free. Except, that is, for the nagging void in my gums where my molar used to be.

There is also a nagging void in my pocket, where my wallet used to be. (Almost grappled with that one too.)

All in all, I don’t know how you dentists do it, to stick your hands in other people’s mouths day in and day out, and actually help people. I salute you.



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