If I had been drinking anything, there would have been such a spit-take. That’s when the babbling and crying, which has literally never, ever worked for me, yet I continue to try it, begins. “Dr. Mandy, I am an actress. I don’t have this kind of money. I wait tables to make ends meet. I don’t know what to do.” As my eyes got wider and wider and sadder and sadder in my best attempt to look like the cutest darn pro-bono tooth case ever, the receptionist ran in with a payment plan and a credit card application. This was not exactly what I had in mind, but, resigned to my fate; I left my trendy little cloud of a dentist’s office and walked out into the sun.
“Mama, Dr. Mandy said it had to be done.” I’ve got my lip stuck out into such a pout, I’m sure my mother could hear it brushing my knees through the phone as I told her my sad, sad tale of what happens when you let too many years get between you and a check-up, secretly hoping she will coddle me and send me a million dollars.
The thing about Southern mothers is that they do not play. My mom loves me as much as Michael Bay loves explosions and misogyny, but she was not going to take me to her bosom and offer me the moon. “Baby, I believe in you and I know you can find a better deal. Teeth are expensive, but you are smart, resourceful and you can do this.”
Dammit. I hate when my mom believes in me in a way that forces me to be independent. It usually leads to me finding inner strength and bravely heading into a long, painful process that helps me gain character and wisdom. This instance was no exception.
After many long, mentally anguished weeks, consisting of hours of googling and phone calls and even contemplating going home to North Carolina, where my procedure would have been half the price, plus the cost of at least two round-trip plane tickets and several missed days of work, making it basically the full price, I made the most difficult decision a young, uninsured person can make: Dental School.
My first foray into dental school was so efficient, lovely and innocuous, that it is boring. I had a lovely endodontist take great care of my teeth. She was nice, she was pretty and she was honest. She helped underprivileged kids have healthier teeth on the weekends. The end.
….Of the first part of my dental school story.