Thursday, August 13, 2009


Did I mistype the title? Did I break 3 fingers, inhibiting my ability to type coherently? Or perhaps I’m studying Mandarin Chinese… Nope, none of the above. In this entry, I will tackle one of the greatest, most infamous problems faced by not only Americans, but people of all nations. A problem that has confuddled the greatest of wits, stymied the most brilliant minds, and driven the coolest intellects to the brink of madness. And no, I haven’t proven the Riemann Hypothesis yet. That’s next week.

You see, today I had to go to the dentist for a cleaning and checkup. First, let me pose a valid question brought up by my ten-year-old brother today as we all climbed into my mom’s minivan. My mom had asked him if he had brushed his teeth today, and he replied, “I don’t understand why if we’re going to get our teeth cleaned, we have to clean them ourselves first.” This, to me, is quite a legitimate question. It actually brought to the surface other such situations. For example, during my time working at the bank, the cleaning lady came every Friday night. So, before closing on Friday, we all had to double-check that our counters and floors were completely cleaned. Then you’ve got the people who spend money to hire a maid and freak out an hour before the maid comes because their house is a mess. They proceed to clean it spotless, leaving the maid the afternoon to kick back, relax, maybe watch some TV. (By the way, the Patriots are winning right now 24-6!!!!!! Great way to start off the preseason!!!) So I just don’t understand such things. The insight of a ten-year-old…

Our trip to and arrival at the dentist’s office was uneventful. I was called into the hygienist’s office so that she could clean the teeth that I had thoroughly cleaned myself not an hour earlier. And I’m obviously doing a good job since I’ve never had a cavity. For a long time, from ages 5-12 or something, I was a proud member of the No Cavity Club. Yeah, that’s right. I’d post my membership card on here if they gave me one. Instead, all the awesome members of the No Cavity Club got their names on a poster on the wall of the waiting room. As the years progressed, more and more names were dropped from the wall as the truly worthy were identified. Now I’m too old so it doesn’t even matter.

The hygienist and I talked for a bit before beginning, with her asking me about college in the fall. I told her where I was going and then she put the paper towel thing over my front. I’m going to refer to it as a paper towel thing because that sounds more mature than a bib. But it takes longer to type… Fine, she put my bib on, presumably in case I began drooling in the middle of the cleaning process. Why I would begin drooling I have no idea. So I figured that with the bib on, my mouth open wide, and her now cleaning away at my sparkling-clean teeth, she and I had an understanding that our conversation would not be able to continue for the obvious reason that I couldn’t speak. I guess I shouldn’t assume anything.

“So, have you done Orientation yet?” she inquired, her voice muffled behind the mask she wore that resembled that of a welder.

“Nghuhnm,” I replied. Unfortunately, I was unable to elaborate on that point.

“I was thinking,” she began, her voice again muffled. I waited patiently for her to continue. My mouth was minty, thanks to the mint toothpaste I had selected. She didn’t continue. That’s odd… I thought.

“Did you get your dorm room?” she asked. Ah, a coherent question. This I could deal with.

“Ngmghguhmmg,” I replied. She smiled and switched to floss. I began to wonder if she actually understood what I was saying. Perhaps all dental hygienists were required to take a class in understanding people trying to speak when their mouths are open wide with tools shoved into them.

“Well maybe,” she began again, her voice muffled. Again she didn’t continue. At that point, I understood that these two beginnings were actually misinterpreted questions! Great! I thought. Now she probably thinks I’m rude! I mean, what kind of awful person wouldn’t respond to a question when a) They have no idea what the question was. b) Their mouth is open and filled with toothpaste, water, and being flossed. And c) The asker of the question just snapped the floss in so hard that the victim- I mean, patient- feels blood begin to gently dribble onto his tongue.

“Well good luck at MIT!” she said after giving me some bottled water. She gave me bottled water to rinse with because the town’s water was infected with E-Coli. Wonderful.

“Thanks!” I replied, trying not to smile too widely so as not to reveal the blood coating my teeth.

She smiled again and then left the room, leaving me to ponder the eternal question: why in the world are dentists so intent on holding conversations with people who can’t talk? Dentistry really is a strange profession; they clean teeth that are already sparkling and speak to the only people in the room who can’t talk. The people who really need their teeth cleaned are the ones that don’t go to the dentists.

I left the dentist’s office that day with no cavities, but much more philosophical material to contemplate for the rest of the day. And in case you were wondering, the Patriots are now leading 27-22. Yikes. That’s what happens when you take Brady out. Whatever, it’s just preseason anyways…

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