I always feel like they're setting me up for a hell of a ride when I'm being directed to one of the dentist seats.
They usually put me in front of the window, so I can look outside while waiting for the supervising orthodontist to check on my teeth. After some waiting, the assistant looks at my chart, spits out the obligatory "How are you doing today" and hurries off to get the tools that the doctor will be needing for my treatment.
There's one thing that stares at me every time I take a seat; a pair of black plastic protective glasses.
You can tell these are worn by every patient visiting this chair because of the fingerprints and greasy residue that's left on them. Unfortunately, the liability policy states that every patient needs to wear these protective glasses. I usually don't put them on until the very last moment. I wait until the assistant says "here we go", as if pushing the automatic seat reclining button is going to shoot me into the sky. That is my signal for obscuring my vision with the greasy glasses (I call 'em GG's).
What bothers me is that they usually start chit-chatting about what happened in the news or ask if I saw the latest episode of their favorite sitcom. They become inquisitive about your opinion on things in life and you try to answer everything by nodding your head, suppressing tongue spasms, avoiding sharp metal objects hovering over your face, hoping the subtle head movements you make will be interpreted as some useful answer to their questions.
And they actually understand what you're saying, too.
Sometimes they stab me. Every time one of their pointy tools digs its way into my gums, the assistant yells in my ear. "Oh my god, this has never happened to me before, I'm so sorry," and I think "yeah right, that's what you said last time, A-hole." Oh yes, the assistant is a dude. That's what makes it even less bearable.
My supervising orthodontist then takes over and starts talking to me as if I'm her best buddy; she asks me about my life in California, about what life's like in Belgium, what my future plans are and where she can find those delicious Belgian chocolates. And sometimes, instead of lying on a dentist chair, I feel like I'm having a session on a couch with a shrink. I mean, she asks me things I thought a dentist wasn't supposed to ask.
One time, she put the seat up and looked at me with her big brown eyes. I guess some people would give a hug or burst out in tears after what she was about to muffle through her blue mouth cloth. But all I could do was swallow down chemical residue and smile sheepishly.
She said: "Never forget - there's always a way.. OK?"
I'm really going to miss these visits.
PS. Here's a bit of Alex Agnew's stand-up comedy tour, talking about going to the dentist. I think it's hilarious: