“If you don’t tell anybody, no one will ever know,” the dental hygienist said to me as we walked to the appointment desk after my visit.
“I have to tell my Mama. I tell her everything,” I replied.
My bi-annual trips to the dentist have always been two of my favorite days of the year. There aren’t many things in life that feel better than running your tongue across newly cleaned and polished teeth. I’m always hesitant to eat or drink for a few days after. It seems like such an abomination to dirty my fresh pearly whites.
I called Mama after my visit, still sitting in my car. I was kind of numb. I’d always taken great pride in that I’d lived more than three decades and never had a cavity. So, I called Mama for comfort and a little sympathy after the dentist confirmed I had my first. She had none. She laughed before calling me names like “Rot Tooth” and “Meth Mouth.” She’s not evil we just love each other that way. Still, she laughed.
So, I called Chris.
“If that’s the worst thing you have to worry about, you’re doing just fine,” he said.
What in the hell is wrong with the people I love? I’m devastated. This is a big fucking deal – to me, a tragedy, yet they have no pity. Zero compassion. No condolences. Nothing.
With less than an hour left in my work day I didn’t have to go back to the office, but still in search of even the tiniest bit of sympathy, I went back and immediately announced my plight to my contemporaries. Know what I got there. Blank stares.
“You are supposed to feel sorry for me,” I said to one of them. “Well I don’t,” she replied.
These people have no fucking souls.
The cavity is small, per my dentist; between two teeth. I prompted the hygienist to take an unscheduled x-ray when I complained that food was getting stuck between the two teeth frequently. She knew I had a cavity as soon as she saw the picture but waited to let the dentist break the news to me. I wasn’t embarrassed when tears welled up in my eyes.
“We will have you back next week, clean it out really well, and fill it with a tooth colored composite,” the dentist explained. “You’ve had a really good run. It’s rare that I see someone your age who has never had a cavity.”
Oh okay. Like that’s going to make me feel better? I feel like the entire cast of LaLa Land at this year’s Oscars – except my plight is much worse. They had the trophy for 15 seconds. I had the trophy for 30 plus years only to have to ripped from my hands.
Could it be the Coca-Cola I’ve been binging on over the last few months? Has my Crest toothpaste finally failed me? Did I get a cavity because I shamed those two girls in Walmart last week who were opening every tube of lipstick and color swatching their filthy hands? Was it because I tricked my most naive co-worker into thinking we celebrated her birthday while she was on vacation, posting pictures on the office bulletin board of us wearing party hats and leis? Is this payback for the time I stole that pack of Bubblelicious Watermelon bubble gum from Winn-Dixie in 1986? (I returned it. Mama made me. I apologized.) What have I done to deserve this? Does one cavity turn your mouth into a hotbed for more to develop? Will my entire mouth soon be filled with foul smelling brown and purple rotting teeth? I cannot believe this is my life. My real life.
That night thunderstorms ripped across parts of Georgia and South Carolina. I scrolled through Facebook before going to bed. A local news channel posted to their page a viewer video of hail pouring from his gutter’s downspout. Hail piled into a large mound near his front steps. I drifted to sleep listening to the thunder and soon fell into a dream. In the dream, I was the person taking video footage of the hail pouring from the gutter’s downspout except it wasn’t hail. It was teeth. Teeth were forming a large mound near the front steps. Teeth were falling front the sky – millions and millions and millions of teeth.
I’m not scheduled to have my cavity filled for another week. The dreams have turned into nightmares. I’m having them nightly. Waking up with gummy bears where my teeth once were. Going into the dentist only to come out with my teeth filled into vampire teeth. My teeth falling out as I am eating, only to realize it once I’ve finished chewing them down to dust.
Some bad things have happened to me in my life. I’ve been divorced. I have been fired from a job. I had a lady back into my car once but she told the police I hit her. I walked around summer camp once with dirty panties hanging from the leg of my shorts. I have family and friends with no souls. But this cavity thing is, by far, the worst.
So, I am going to need you to feel sorry for me now.