Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Meet Dr. Den Teen

The minute I bit down onto the
hard kernel of popcorn,
I knew that damage had been done.
It was just a small chunk of filling
that rolled off my tongue,
but substantial enough to mandate
a dreaded trip to the dentist.

Looking back at my calendar,
it had been quite awhile
since I sat in an hydraulic chair
with a paper bib tied beneath my neck.
In fact, years had passed
since I last wrote out a check
for my life savings
to Dr. Den Teen.

For weeks I dreaded the appointment.

...Remembering the waiting room
with it's Field and Stream magazines,
stained carpeting,
a bright yellow corner filled with
screaming kids and tons of toys.
...The smell of antiseptic
and spittoons
and tire-scented latex gloves.
...The sounds of buzzing, drilling,
cracking, and scraping.

Dr. Den had moved his office
across town, which only gave me
extra time to fret.
When I finally arrived, I wasn't
sure I had the right place.

It was a sleek, modern building,
not unlike a spa or resort-
large glass windows
and cobblestone walkways
and landscaping straight from
Better Homes and Gardens.

Entering the foyer,
I immediately felt under dressed.

I was almost positive the
reminder card I got in the mail
didn't say anything about formal attire
or to wear pearls and heels.

Above me were crystal chandeliers.
Below me, pristine hardwood flooring.
In front of me- a beautiful woman
dressed in a tight black skirt,
white silk blouse,
and a mouth full of neon-white teeth.

She flashed them as she introduced herself.
"Good afternoon. I'm Nadia.
I'll be your receptionist today.
Have a seat in Waiting Room North
and the doctor will see you shortly.
Would you like a sparking water
while you wait?"

I took the water, hoping Nadia
wasn't expecting a tip.

The North waiting area
was plush and perfect,
with gold brocade curtains,
micro-fiber sofas with satin pillows,
carpet three inches thick,
a burled walnut entertainment center
with a sixty inch flat screen.
And the supply of magazines
stacked neatly in their chrome holder
was tremendous.

Tall scented candles burned in tortoiseshell
holders, making the room smell heavenly.
There were leather theater chairs with
cup holders and a lady giving
pedicures for $75.

I looked around.
No children. No Little Tykes mowers
or vacuum cleaners or freakin' Legos.

About that time Nadia appeared and
explained to me that the children were
all in Waiting Room South.
There they had a clown making
balloon animals
and a wall of video games.
(Later I found out they were
serving sushi and lobster
in Waiting Room East-
for loyal customers only-
those patients/friend/pals
who begged for routine
three month check-ups and let
the doctor win at golf.)

"Do you need any help?" she asked.
I was sure she would have turned the
pages of my magazine for me
if I had asked her to.

She told me about the vending area
and I had to see it for myself.
Rows and rows of healthy drinks
and sugar free treats lined
the copper-papered walls.
One machine offered bubble-gum
flavored floss and single dose mouthwash.

I could have waited there all day
and not complained a minute.
But soon I went back to see Dr. Den.

He showed off his toothy smile-
like all good dentists do-
and shook my hand.
The chair he led me to looked
like a space-age Lazy Boy
and the flat screen TV
he pulled in front of me was
showing a video of a cracking fireplace
with soft music playing.

He clipped a soft combed cotton bib on me,
slapped on his sweet-smelling blueberry gloves,
and quickly repaired my tooth
with a silent drill
and minimal poking.

"All Done," he announced, removing his gloves
and fastening his Rolex back on his wrist.

I paid Dr. Den Teen and instantly needed
another doctor for my blood pressure.
I knew who was paying for this dental resort!

"Nadia," I said, with a tad bit of snottiness,
"since I paid for this visit in full-
I think I'll hang around a while longer
in Waiting Room North.
They're showing a Grey's Anatomy marathon
and it's on another four hours.
And, oh-I'll have a sugar-free Ginger Ale, please."

Now, if you think I have made all of this up,
I want you to know:

It's the tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth!