Dentalaphobia

She was terrifying.

The dental hygienist was a size zero but her protective gear doubled her weight. She wore a weird combination of hazmat suit, welder’s gear, and executioner’s hood. Her breathing would make Darth Vader proud. 

The dental chair jerked back as she thrust the interrogation lamp inches from my face. 

“Shall we begin?” she asked in a creepy whisper.

“Ok,” I said tentatively. 

She switched on the lamp and my face was enveloped with a zillion lumens of light. My eyes started to water. I wiped them quickly, hoping she wouldn’t think less of me.

She ignored my uncomfort and picked up an old spear from her rusty pile of tools on the floor. 

“Open up!” she commanded with the authority of a drill sergeant. 

I opened my mouth nervously and tried to move my lips and gums away from my teeth, even though they’re attached.

She laughed and shouted, “Wider!”

I may have pulled a muscle somewhere in my face as I obeyed. I opened my mouth wider than ever and then doubled it. I’m not sure because I was blinded by the light, but she may have actually stepped inside my mouth for the remainder of the examination.

She began the exam by jabbing the gums surrounding each of my teeth with a javelin used in the 1988 Olympic games. Then I was forced to remove all moisture from my head and upper torso by closing my mouth around her industrial strength straw vacuum. After using what sounded like a spin saw to coat my teeth in gritty goo, she rinsed my mouth with at least 20 gallons of water. Fortunately, she removed it once again with her liquid sucking torture device. Finally, she pulled out a large rope salvaged from the Mayflower and used it as dental floss. She jammed the rope (and probably a few chains) back and forth through the rows of my teeth as I wept silently and gripped the sides of my chair. 

Then, her verbal assault began.  

“You haven’t been flossing. You know you can get floss anywhere. Pharmacies, grocery stores, Walmart, Walgreens, Dollar General, they all have it. Even some gas stations sell dental floss. You have no excuse… No excuse.” 

Finally, my punishment, uh, exam was over and I was able to close my mouth and breathe normally. 

Suddenly, I heard upbeat 80’s music and the dentist popped in. 

“So, how’s it going, my man?” he asked too energetically. “Open wide and let me peek inside.”

I opened my mouth as before and he examined my teeth for approximately 8-10 seconds. 

“Looks great!” he cried as he shoved a plastic bag in my hand. Inside I found 6 inches of dental floss and a firm toothbrush that we’ll probably use to clean the grout between tiles.

“Thank you,” I replied to thin air, not realizing he had disappeared.

I crawled to the checkout desk and paid my copay, the most enjoyable part of my visit.

“See you in six months!” cried the clerk as I limped away.

I vowed at that moment to switch dentists, but I’ll probably forget, just like I forget to floss.

*Special thanks to Jonathan Borba and Unsplash for the image

Bougie Foods

Every so often, my wife proclaims that we (meaning me) need to eat healthier. This mostly happens on New Years Day, my birthday, our anniversary, and every morning. These proclamations are followed by conversations about water, produce and a lack of taste. Often, to help us (me) on our (my) journey to better health, we visit new grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and organic centers where you lose weight by spending all your money at the checkout.

Recently, we visited a bougie chain grocery store fairly new to our area. I learned the term bougie (also spelled bougee, boujee, boozhee, boojee…) from a coworker while visiting a local overpriced, groovy smoothie shop. I feel old and stale for writing this, but I learned more about the term from an old USA Today article. It comes from the word bourgeois and describes assumed high end tastes like driving your Tesla to get Root of Eggplant Juice after your Aqua Shiatsu massage. 

To protect the bougie store’s identity, we’ll call it Tater Toes.

After a short wait which stretched across the front of the building and halfway to the back, we entered Tater Toes. What we found amazed us:

  • Mashed Cauliflower
  • Banana Date Nut Bread Crisps
  • Organic Teriyaki Seaweed Snacks
  • Blood Orange Chocolate Chip Ricotta Cheese
  • Sriracha Air Fried Organic Avocado Bean Sprout Tomatillo Vegan Chicken Flavored Wafers on Dill Pickle Flavored Black Forest Grown Sticks.

You know, interesting things you wonder about but don’t buy unless someone makes you.

After walking down every row five or six times, we found two items we actually wanted to purchase: bananas and blueberries. We pushed them in our almost empty cart across the immaculately clean store to our enthusiastic cash register/checkout specialist. This guy was so friendly that I’m sure he must have turned down a management position at the Magic Kingdom in order to train for this job. After complimenting my wife’s jacket and offering to do our taxes, he asked if we had found everything we were looking for. 

“Yes,” said my wife as if our cart was full. “But I was also wondering about your seasonal food products.”

He smiled in an understanding way as if he had just learned that we were raised by wolves in Canada’s northwest territory and didn’t understand how human society works.

“I’m sorry,” he replied. “Our seasonal items are so popular, you should probably buy them nine months in advance. The good news is that they’ll be on our shelves in a couple of months.”

We walked out, produce in hand, feeling like cave people who just encountered the wheel. We’re determined to learn the ways of bougie food grocery stores, even if it takes several more visits. In the meantime, I guess I’ll be standing in line outside of Tater Toes and eating a lot of organic bananas and blueberries.

*Photo courtesy of Utsman Media and Unsplash