Teef, Part VIII

Drum roll, please. I am finally going to tell the story of the night that I got measured for my crown. I was on my second month and seventh visit to the Dental School. I was ready. After this visit, there would only be the quick and painless installation of the crown. I had grown too wise and too weary to be suckered in by these promises, but I still felt a little flutter of hope inside my chest that one day, I would be crowned and released back into the urban jungle, free to roam as one of its many, many princesses.

The way they measure for a crown is by using these tiny strings that look like really strong blue dental floss. After about an hour of measuring around the base of my nubby tooth, I got the sense that something wasn’t working. Timmy had to call over a grad student, who was more available than Dr. Shoe Polish Hair, the supervising professor of the evening.

I usually tried to tune out when two dental students started talking because they use a lot of words that I don’t understand or want to infiltrate my brain and take up space in my already crowded and confused lexicon. But as I was accepting my Tony from a crying and congratulatory Audra McDonald, the word scalpel pierced my consciousness.

“Scalpel?! Are you guys going to cut me open? Timmy, what’s going on?”

“How does she know this word? Are you a medical student?” asked the grad student, whose first language was not English.

I never mean to be a bitch, but sometimes my face just reflects too clearly what’s going on inside my head. It’s part of what makes Timmy so afraid of me. I’m thinking thoughts and they are projected from eyebrow to jaw. I gaped at the grad student as though he had just asked the dumbest question in history.

“How could I not know what that word means?”

He stammered something about most people calling it a knife, or something and how I must be very smart, as though “scalpel” weren’t vocabulary I could pick up from watching Grey’s Anatomy, or  even an episode of Looney Toons where Bugs Bunny pretended to be a surgeon. Either way, this conversation was getting in the way of my finding out exactly what they were planning to do with that scalpel.

Apparently, they were going to cut my gums all around my tooth so that they could get a better measurement for the crown. This was the only time that I cried in the dental school. Not sobs, per say, just tears rolling out of my eyes as Timmy smacked strawberry gum against my forehead and four dental students looked on. It was a black day.

As I left that night, I felt a weight lift. I was almost free. Tiny angel voices sang in my ears and I picked up some sushi to celebrate. Though my jaw was throbbing and my eyes were swollen, I could imagine a time when I wouldn’t have to leave work early once a week to see Timmy and have him violate every personal space boundary I’ve ever held dear. Things were looking up.


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