GIF: Jim Cooke (GMG)

I absolutely recognize that I am fortunate when it comes to dental health. No cavities (yet), no root canals (yet), no dentures (yet), no glasses of milk (yet)—I don’t even have to use Sensodyne (yet)!

I do grind my teeth at night. I use a night guard. The teeth grinding has given me fissures (small cracks in some of my teeth). I am always assured it is no big deal, but eventually they will need to be filled.

A couple of months ago, I visited the dentist. Per usual, my visit was great and my teeth were deemed PERFECT. No cavities! HOORAY! The dentist and I agreed that I would come back in two weeks to get molds made of my teeth for a new night guard and to fill a couple of the fissures.

That brings us, dear readers, to Monday, September 24, 2018.

I got to my follow-up appointment three minutes early, feeling great about life, having brushed three times. I was excited about my new night guards and only marginally nervous about what fissure-filling entailed. The receptionist greeted me with a smile (it is a dentist’s office), she signed me in, and almost immediately had a dental hygienist escort me through the lobby and into the back of the office to the examining room.

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As soon as we started moving through the interior of the office space, the faint sound of a grown ass man SCREAMING in pain revealed itself. I immediately thought: WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON IN THERE??? This guy is probably getting his fissures filled.

WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY DOING TO THIS GUY!

(SCREAM)

OH GOD!

(WAIL)

MY FISSURES! HIS FISSURES!

(HOWL)

ABORT! ABORT! ABORT!

(CATERWAUL)

EJECT! EJECT! EJECT!

We continue past exam rooms, up a short flight of stairs—and this dude keeps getting louder. I don’t know if the hygienist is ignoring the groans to avoid freaking me the fuck out (too late) or maybe she is just accustomed to this. Maybe this is par for the course on “filling-fissures-Mondays.” Either way, I am shitting my pants.

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We get to exam room number 15: it’s me, the dentist, a hygienist in training, the hygienist who walked me to the room, and trays of recently sterilized sharp objects that are about to go into my mouth.

Who is in room number 14?

The guy who sounds like each one of his teeth is being pulled out with a wrench (no anesthetic) while getting punched in the face? THIS GUY IS IN PAIN AND HE IS MAKING SURE EVERYONE KNOWS IT!

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The room is quiet other than the man next door SCREAMING. I attempt to lighten the mood by making a joke: “WOW, it’s not going very well for that guy.”

The dentist looks at me from behind his glasses, taps his front pocket (checking one’s phone is now an autonomic response), and says, “It’s not mine.”

It was the light tap on his front pocket that made me realize: it was mine.

My phone, a Pixel 2, in my back pocket, was playing a video of a (beautiful) grown-ass man being pounded out by another (beautiful) grown-ass man.

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Volume: 100 percent.

I reached to my back side and pressed every button on the phone I could until the ululations stopped.

The room was silent.

I smiled, sat down in the chair, looked at the three of them, and asked, “OK, is this going to hurt?”

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More of Victor Jeffreys’ work is here.