Time flies in between dentist appointments

March 07, 1998

Terry TalbertTime flies in between dentist appointments

A friend insists that I need to explain something about my personal hygiene.

In my last column I described the mental anguish I went through in deciding whether I should first take my mouth or my cats' fangs to the dentist. I said I chose to take my mouth, out of fear all my teeth would fall out if I didn't, and I felt I would look infinitely worse gumming it than the kitties would.

"That was gross," my friend said. "That's not the kind of thing you tell the whole world. It sounded awful. It has to do with your ... personal hygiene!"

"But I'm a fanatic when it comes to toothbrushing," I said. "I must brush my teeth eight times a day. I brush my teeth after I eat a piece of candy."


"Yeah, well you never would have known that by reading your column. It was disgusting". There was a pause. "By the way, how'd it go when you FINALLY got to the dentist," she asked.

"Well, first I found out how long it had been since I was there," I said. "I couldn't believe it. I had no idea it had been that long. No idea!

"Well?" she said.

I grimaced, and then spoke softly and very, very quickly in hopes she wouldn't quite catch what I was saying. "Eightyears?"

"WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?" she said slowly in an awed and very loud voice. (Sometimes she adopts a motherly attitude. When she does that, she makes you feel excruciating guilt. I don't think it's intentional. She just can't help herself.)

"WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?" she reiterated.

"Well ... the only reason I knew it was that long was because the dental hygienist told me she was pregnant the last time I was there. She showed me a picture of her son. He's eight now."

"WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?" she repeated.

"Time flies, doesn't it?" I offered.

She groaned.

"I thought the dentist took it real well," I said. "All he asked me was whether I'd taken my cats to get their teeth cleaned yet. He knows I was severely traumatized as a child by a dentist who used to leave me in the chair for hours with huge hairy wads of cotton in my mouth, while he chatted cheerily with adults in the waiting room. My dentist understands it takes me a little while to get up the courage to make an appointment."

I think my friend was in shock, because her response was the same. "WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?", she asked. She was really getting on my nerves, which were still jangling from the sandblasting I underwent in the dentist's office.

"Wait!" I demanded. (I was hoping that would jolt her out of shock). "I haven't finished yet. I haven't told you what they told me."

My ploy appeared to have worked. She uttered new and different words. "I can only imagine what they told you," she said, her voice dripping with disgust. "I'm not sure I even want to know."

"Well, they said ... ."

She interrupted me then.

"God, Terry, don't tell anybody this," she pleaded. "Please don't tell the whole world it's been EIGHT YEARS since you've seen a dentist."

"Well, If you count the times I went for emergency service, it really hasn't been eight," I said.

"Eight years ... ." She was mumbling under her oh-so-fresh breath - something about the fact her five year old had seen the dentist more than I have.

I was getting sick of it.


That yanked her back to reality.

She listened.

"Sink your teeth into this. They told me I brush my teeth too hard. They told me I had scrubbed the enamel off my teeth, and that's not good. They also told me I have no new cavities," I said.

She just stared at me.

I wanted a reaction.

"LOOK MA, NO CAVITIES," I yelled, opening my mouth to cavernous proportions. "DID YOU HEAR ME? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO NEW CAVITIES!"

There was a moment of silence before she spoke.

"WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?" she asked.

Sometimes you just can't win.

Terry Talbert is a Herald-Mail staff writer.

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