For now I relax. Or try to – my mouth has become a construction site, as the doctor moves on to removing the last of my ancient fillings from the Land of Metallica and replacing it with a crown. Singing under his breath, “Hold me closer tiny dah-han-cer,” he’s pushed the heavy drilling equipment up to 11, a cloud of fine tooth bits is spattering everything within a three-foot radius, a hot, iron smell fills my nostrils, and over the heinous high-pitched sound my stomach growls. My brain has been tricked into thinking it’s snack time by the sluice of water, metal and mmm-mmm calcium and my stomach responds with a roar like it’s never been fed before. I’m embarrassed at its gullibility.
I’m left alone while the gloppy mold of my new tooth crown is setting, and close my eyes. My teeth are clenched down in a bite, and I do some deep breathing for five minutes, until I feel something wet trailing down the side of my neck and realize I’m so numb I’ve unwittingly drooled Niagara Falls out of the side of my mouth. I’m busy cleaning myself up with my completely useless bib when the assistant comes back in. She gets busy inserting a cord around the remaining bottom of the tooth, which apparently proves difficult.
“Your tissue is very buoyant.”
“That’s what she said!” I couldn’t help but reply. In my head.
When I'm finally done and checking out at the receptionist’s desk, I try to apply some tinted chap stick but my upper lip is still numb, and I fear I’ve smeared it all over my face. I smile sheepishly as I leave, but when I get to the car and glance at the rearview mirror I see nothing but a palsied sneer, a lame Elvis impersonator in the driver’s seat. With a sloppy pink clown mouth.