I started this morning off swimmingly, with a trip to the dentist. Let’s call him Ned.
My first in six years, folks. I’m not ashamed to say it. Listen: that crap’s expensive. On the list of things to pay for as a young, struggling, adult larva, having a middle aged white guy scratch at my enamel with a metal hook and give me a live demonstration on how to pull string through my teeth isn’t at the top of them. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important. It’ s just that when you peer inside the wallet of a mid 20-something, you don’t find much. All of it has already been wrestled out of our grimy little clenched fists for things we never knew we had to pay for before. Like car insurance and oil changes and work clothes and groceries and appliances. Some of my most sobering moments in life have been those in which I have to purchase something that is absolutely unexciting but necessary to higher adult functions. Like kitchen sponges. Or batteries. Or a brand new shiny set of car tires, when I’d rather spend that money on an iPad. Or a kiddie pool full of long noodles.
Yesterday Dave bought a new white board for us and I convinced myself that it was the most romantic thing that had happened to me in our entire relationship. I cried. There were real tears.
Anyway, adulthood is expensive. And I haven’t even started to have babies yet. Lord help me.
So I’m sitting in Ned’s dentist chair, trying to figure out what I’m supposed to infer from his handing me a cup of water and holding a funnel beside me (it’s not really intuitive, folks), when he begins to make me feel like a terrible person. He starts to tell me how people die from bad teeth, how it’s linked to many diseases and deaths, and that he’d like to talk to me about my process. All this in spite of the fact that I didn’t have a single cavity or much plaque to speak of.
My brother got me an electric tooth brush for Christmas (also a clear indicator of adulthood). I expected him to give me a certificate or something. I guess they only do that for kids, which I think it preposterous. Excitement over receiving certificates knows no age limit.
So then the Nedster starts going on about how the real goal after I eat should be to get rid of any of the food that’s left in my mouth. You know, the little bits and pieces you savor as they swim around for a bit. He believed that every time I put something in my mouth, drink included, I should then rinse or brush whatever is remaining away. In fact, he so believed that this was necessary to my dental hygiene that he said I should steer clear of any “hard to clean foods” like cookies.
He went straight for the cookies. Heartless.
Oreos, he said, are the worst. Because even if you rinse afterward, you only get about half of it.
I can tell you right now, I’m not going to do that. Get all the food out of my mouth after I’m done? What about aftertaste, Ned? What about relishing? What about the sweet satisfaction after you’ve had a nice portion of something you’ve been craving for a long time. What, am I just supposed to sprint and brush away the satisfaction? Good God, man – don’t you have a heart?!
I ate a small Dove chocolate square about ten minutes ago and my tongue can still remember the silky milk goodness on its surface.
But then I realized he’s playing a trick on me. He probably loves Oreos. If I would have looked closer, I might have even found a few crumbs lingering on his eye teeth. But he’s realized that telling people to floss just isn’t working. People will always do ever so slightly less than they really feel they should. So he’s decided to change the game and tell people to do more. If I’m busy feeling unhygienic and sad because I’m not rinsing and brushing after every snack, I’ll tell myself that I should at least floss. I mean, I’m already slacking in the rinses – I don’t want to risk death because I also didn’t floss, do I?
I admire his wit. I do. I recognize this tactic from my childhood: asking to stay out until 10 because then I’ll get to stay out til 9 and all I really needed was 8? Yeah, I remember that. It’s very effective. Nicely done, Ned! No wonder I bought your services instead of a pool full of noodles or 18 cases of chocolate milk that I’d have to brush away after drinking.
Speaking of which, I should probably go floss some of this Dove chocolate out of my mouth. ◊