A Trip to the Orthodontist

March 24, 2010
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“Katherine?”

I look up from my Sports Illustrated magazine, glancing around the small waiting room for the poor person who had just been called. It takes me less than five seconds to realize something. Oh. That’s me.

My “real” name is Katherine, but I’ve always gone by Katie. Always. All the time. Everyone who knows me knows me by Katie. Well, except the dentist, the doctor, and the orthodontist.

I force a grim smile at hearing the strange name. The only other place I hear that name is if my mom is mad at me. Bad memories right there.

I get up, putting down my magazine with a sigh. I wish I could have finished that fascinating article about Tiger Woods. Oh well. I get up, slowly following the lady in scrubs who is carrying a paper. I know that paper. It has all my records of every time I’ve been to the orthodontist. I’ve been there many times over the past four years.

The paper also contains a terrible picture of me from the X-rays I got before the braces. I remember that day well. It was like 100 degrees outside, and I had my hair pulled back for some bizarre reason. Now that picture haunts me. I catch a glimpse of it, always shuddering at the hideousness of it.

Also on that page is some info on my family, like that my 12-year-old sister is 4 and my 4-year-old brother is 12. Sigh. The least they could do is get my siblings’ ages right.

ANYWAYS, back to the point. I follow the lady in scrubs that are way too bright and enthusiastic to the back room. Why does it have to be a back room? Back rooms are scary. I notice the orthodontist off to the side. A shudder goes through me and my eyes widen in horror. His head is ginormous, a boulder sitting on top of broad shoulders. His hair, oh his hair! It’s like a mop on his huge head, flowing down into his eyes.

Fear paralyzing me, I quickly look away from that monster of a doctor and slip into the green examining chair. I can hardly breathe, and the walls are definitely closing in around me. I feel like I’m going to suffocate, but then I notice something. Something…a big box-shaped contraption on the wall. And it’s right there in front of me. A smile creeps onto my face as hope rushes in. It’s a TV. And miracles of all miracles, the channel is set to ESPN.

Instantly, I forget the creepy orthodontist, the place I’m in, and what I’m doing there. All I see is that TV, the channel that shows nothing but sports, sports, sports. It’s the sports fan’s dream.

It wasn’t long until my euphoria is disturbed, though. All too soon, it all comes rushing back. I’m in the torture, uh, examining chair. The lady glares at me, not saying a word, forcing open my mouth and jabbing cold, sharp objects around. My eyes cling to that TV, drinking in the sports and trying not to think about what is going on inside my mouth.

I see baseball, basketball, football all passing before my eyes. But then the doctor looms into my view, completely blocking out that ray of hope. It’s like a shadow has covered the earth. I suddenly feel a chill run through me. My eyes widen in horror. He smiles, a very strange smile. I can’t see his eyes, but it’s kind of obvious that he can’t see me very well. This is the worst part.

He sits down on the chair to my side, mumbling something about the weather. I nod slowly, pretending to know exactly what the forecast is for the next two weeks in Cambodia and Russia too. Then he fumbles around in his little drawer, triumphantly pulling out a pokey tool and that little mirror thingy. I gulp nervously.

“Let’s check out those teeth!” he said, the light turning on in his eyes. I can barely see them through the hair, but I know that he’s finally in his groove. I hesitantly open my mouth to the prodding of the doctor. Even with all that hair that’s completely blocking his view, he sticks his metal tools into my mouth.

“Looking great, Katherine!” Ooh, that name again. My eyes dart to the side, looking at him strangely. Then I look back to the TV, which was now in clear view. Oh, look, one of my favorite baseball players!

Then the doctor’s talking to the lady, something about lowers and other orthodontist nonsense. He stands up, brushing his shaggy hair out of his eyes. “OK, everything looks good, Katherine.” (shudder) “We’ll see you in seven months.”

I glance at him suspiciously. What, that’s it? I’m free? And I don’t need to come back here for SEVEN months?

Excitement fills me. I leap up from the torture, er, examining chair, quickly saying thank-you and grabbing that paper with the terrible picture of me. I rush out to the front desk as swiftly as I can.

The lady at the desk takes that paper. “OK, we’ll send you a card in seven months then,” she says sweetly. I nod, already flying out the door.

I take a deep breath as I slam the door behind me. I brush myself off, trying to get rid of the orthodontist feel.

I survived! And it really wasn’t that bad, was it?

Just don’t call me Katherine.





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