I went to the dentist yesterday to have a cavity filled, because I am an adult and I do adult things.
This is a relatively new strategy for me—in the past, my dental strategy was to ignore my teeth for over a decade until a piece of tooth actually physically snapped off in my mouth, which even the most lackadaisical person has to admit is kind of a big deal (truth: I specifically remember staring down at the tooth fragment in my cupped hand for a good long time, contemplating how far I could make it in life as a toothless hobo). When I finally relented, I made the mistake of going to an Aspen Dental—lured in by their convenient after-work hours and low, low prices, I was willing to overlook the fact that my dentist was actually a chimpanzee whose credentials were ordered from the back of a National Enquirer.
Nine fillings, one pulled tooth, and one (I found out later) completely unnecessary root canal later, I was willing to concede that, not unlike Wu Tang Clan, dental health ain’t nothing to fuck with, and I have been religious about my cleanings ever since. My new dentist, in addition to being an actual human and not a sadistic murder-y monkey clown, is also a teeny-tiny lady with the hands of a baby, which is a definite plus when her entire job requires her to jam one or more hands into my open maw.
Yesterday’s filling was actually a throw-back to my carefree, reckless Aspen Dental days—she was replacing an old filling that was just haphazardly slapped on with Trident gum and a frayed piece of twine. The whole thing was relatively uneventful—I awkwardly looked up her nose for 45 minutes while the smell of burning tooth permeated the air (you know, the usual Monday evening stuff). I came home numb and self-satisfied that I had actually done the right thing and could be counted on to make smart decisions.
It wasn’t until five hours later when, still completely numb and desperately trying to gnaw down a slice of pizza without turning the inside of my cheek into hamburger meat, I wistfully looked back at what my life as a toothless hobo might have been. Being an adult is great and all, but so is mac and cheese, and you don’t need teeth for that.