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Dental adventures

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Marisa
The twitching started, along with the nervous eating and the sweaty palms. My parents told me I had a dentist appointment two weeks from Tuesday. When the day arrived, I sat down in one of the ugly, brown waiting-room chairs as my mother signed me in. My leg wouldn’t stop shaking. I had to keep my eyes looking down at my lap because the video about what happens when you don’t brush or floss your teeth always scares me. Since I had no dream of becoming a dentist, I never found it necessary to watch. Also, I didn’t think the dentist would appreciate me vomiting out of disgust right before going in to see him.
My head was pounding from the lack of sleep. “Before” and “after” posters on the wall that showed what happens when you don’t wear your retainer after you have had braces wasn’t helping my nerves or my mood. Believe me. If you have ever had braces, you know you have to wear your retainer unless you want everyone in the world to see you with hideous teeth. I’m obviously meant for the big screen, and I don’t plan to have someone like RPazz seeing me with ugly teeth. I mean, come on! His teeth are not much to look at, but…I at least have some expectations. I do want shiny white pearls—but I’m not always willing to take on the work that goes with it.
Teeth and I have a rocky relationship. Maybe it’s the fact that my parents were idiots and gave me too much juice as a kid, which made my teeth soft and caused lots of cavities. Or maybe I’m a little too much like my dad—I’m thankful that I got his height and perfect olive skin tone, but it doesn’t help my acting career that I am missing the same two teeth he is. Or maybe the problem is my overbite and the gap between my two front teeth, which only braces can fix.
I then heard the one thing I dreaded most; the hygienist calling my name saying the dentist was ready to see me.
Timmy
“I hate my job,” I said over and over, smacking my head into the desk. When I was little I wanted to be an astronaut, then a scientist. Finally I realized it didn’t matter. I was doomed to this job from the day I—and she—were born. I was the control systems operator for Marisa’s frontal lobe, which is a fancy way of saying that I got to process every movement that Marisa’s brain told me to. I wish it were that simple, though. Maybe if she was a little two-year-old again who didn’t yet believe she was destined to be a star, she might be somewhat manageable again. Instead, my job turned awful when she turned 12—or became, in her mind, “pretty much an adult.” (I think she’s still learning her numbers; apparently actresses don’t need to know how to read, write, or count.) After age 12, I got to deal with her insane reactions: such as when she found out that John liked Ashley and not Samantha and of course HAD to throw her chocolate mocha frap on the ground and cover her hands with her mouth.
But my favorite part of the year had to be when Marisa got to go to the dentist—which meant lots of freaking out, constant gagging, and waving her hands in the air when the dentist didn’t tell her EXACTLY what he was going to do next. And what else did I get to do? I got to do EVERYTHING her brain told me to do. The most recent appointment was the worst of all.
Marisa
“You are amazing, you are strong, you are totally beautiful!” I said under my breath in my best actress voice as I walked into my exam room. The ugly hygienist who walked in front of me told me to sit on the awkwardly positioned and unnaturally shiny blue reclining chair. I gave the chair a quick look, then looked back at her and shook my head. I had a sliver of a smile on my face—making sure that the message in my eyes would be read loud and clear. I wasn’t the type of person who took orders from anyone who wore more lipstick on her teeth than on her lips.
“Sweetie, just take a seat,” she told me again. “We promise not to hurt you.” I could see her waiting for my eyes to look away so she could give the ceiling a dramatic eye roll.
“Maybe I’m waiting for my mommy!” I snapped at her. I made a point of not being seen with my mother in public since I was eight (Who would blame me since I was practically a teenager?). But I realized that the hygienist might actually think I was waiting for my mother—all I knew was that I didn’t want to sit in that chair.
“Fine,” she said. “Let me go find the right hygienist for you.”
By which I knew she meant ‘Let me either find a syringe so I can sedate you’ or ‘You’re a pain in the neck and I don’t want to deal with you anymore.’
“Thanks so much,” I told her crossing my arms over my chest and taking a seat in the dentist’s shiny blue chair.
Timmy
“Cross the arms! Add sarcasm to the voice! Sit in the blue chair. No! The other blue chair!” I barked orders at my employees who were frantically pushing buttons and pulling levers attempting to keep up with Marisa’s brain. Marisa dreamed of being a famous movie star, but she’d have a hard time getting any serious parts. Honestly, I could have sat on a comfy couch with a bowl of popcorn and watched the ridiculous movie of her life like it was one of the funniest comedies ever made. Her dramatic moments were so overplayed, and her funny moments so heightened, I sometimes thought she believed a camera was focused on her face 24/7.
“And STOP!”
I yelled the order at my crew and flopped back down into my chair. My bright red hair hung over my face. Marisa had finally stopped smart-mouthing the hygienist, and while moving her hip up and down for dramatic effect, decided to sit in the dentist chair in a sassy pose instead. As long as she wasn’t moving or speaking, I was fine. Which meant I was usually in a constant craze. You should have seen me when Marisa had to do the mile run….
Marisa
I waited about a billion minutes before I got up, stuck my head out into the hallway, and shouted, “I’M STILL WAITING.” Finally I saw my dentist poke his head out of the exam room two doors down from me and say that he would just be another minute. I should just “take a seat and wait for a second or two.”
“So my dentist is a bit mouthy,” I thought to myself as went back and took the seat where the dentist sat.
I would say I waited a least another three hours before he finally came in. When he set foot into my room I was instantly distracted by something on his shirt. I yelled “yuck!” and pointed to it.
“What?” he said to me. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh my God, there is blood all over your shirt!” I wailed. “Did someone just die in the room next to me? What If the devil picks me up while he is picking up that other body? My crazy youth group leader at church told me they don’t have ice cream in H*ll! I LOVE ICE CREAM. Dude, I gotta get out of here!”
I said all of this in one breath and attempted to push past him and get out into the hallway. I hoped I could convince my mother that my dentist had gone crazy and killed a person, and that none of us should ever go to the dentist again.
“Hold on, Marisa,” he said, blocking my exit into the hallway. “I had a Jell-O cup with my lunch and I just got a little stain on the corner of my scrubs. I left my extra pair at home—I didn’t think I would need them today. So calm down! The man in the other room is fine. He’s nowhere near dead, though you sure are the same old Marisa.” He said this last line with a chuckle.
“Yeah, well dead people freak me out,” I said, tilting my head to the side making myself look more innocent than crazy. It’s like just too much deadness for me, ya know what I mean?”
He smiled and nodded. “Well, how about you just take the patient’s seat and we get started?”
“Errrrr, ummmmm…Would it be possible for me to stand instead?” I asked, “It hurts my feet to sit down.”
“I’m sure it does,” he said dryly. So how about we make this go as fast as possible, so that neither of us ends up in too much pain?”

Timmy
“Arm team: hold still, leg team: keep em’ moving! They should be seated in that other chair in exactly 1.43 seconds! Mouth team: WHISPER any comments about his beard; you don’t get to shout again for 6.79 minutes.” I was out of breath when I finally stopped telling each team what their assignment was. Everything had to be precisely timed; nothing could be even a beat off. What would Marisa’s brain think if we were slacking? Her brain’s 20 times more demanding than she is. You have no idea how many stupid ideas and crazy comments get hung up at the filtering station before she actually sends me a command to do something.
“Now those are the guys I feel bad for,” I thought as I waited for her next command. The guys at the station must be up all hours of the day trying to sort through and filter her impulses and thoughts. Now that was a full-time job! At least I got around six hours off every night while she slept. Good thing she slept like a rock. She moved enough during the day.
Marisa
“Now, Marisa, sweetie, I just want to check out one of your teeth, okay? I need to do an X-ray of it. Do you remember that we did that last time too?”
“Whatever,” I said, trying to remember. “Hey! Can I get some of that special gas?” I asked him.
When I had finally agreed to sit down on the patient’s chair he put a small mask over my nose and told me to breathe in, and that if I did, all of my pain would disappear. He said I would feel like I was doing forward rolls up in the sky with the clouds, like where the Care Bears live and drive around in their cute little cloud cars. For some reason, he felt the need to say this every time he gave me gas; maybe so I wouldn’t remember to ask him what every one of his instruments was and how it was used. I needed to know.
He draped a hideous tarp of some sort over my torso. “I’m just going to stick this little chip between your two teeth and step into the hallway for a moment, okay?” he told me. (I’m really not THAT ugly to look at, I thought).
“Fiii---ee,” I said with the hard chip in my mouth. I started to gag.
“Just breathe through your nose!” he said from the hallway.
I finally heard the beep that indicated that the X-ray was over and that the chip could be removed from my mouth. He took it out and I clamped down.
“Hold on one second,” he said as I took a long deep breath. I prefer my fingers still attached to my hands!”
“Whatever. So am I free to leave now?”
“Not quite yet. I want to see how this X-ray turns out. There was a tiny soft, dark spot on one of your back teeth and I need to see if we need to fill it in.”
“So you mean I might have a cavity?”
“I don’t know yet, Marisa. Let’s both just wait and find out.”
So I just sat there, deadly silent, hoping that he knew that cavities were no longer an option for me.
“I thought that you stopped getting cavities after you turned 10,” I said, breaking my silence.
“Who told you that, Marisa?” he asked, as if I had just told him I accepted candy from strangers as a hobby.
“I just figured, God, sorry!” I said, adding one of my signature hair flips for good measure.
“The X-ray should be done by now,” he said. “Let me go take a look at the results.” He quickly left the room, like it had just burst into fire and he needed to be the first one out.
Timmy
“I said she wanted a brooding expression on her face, not one of anguish! There’s a difference!” I said as politely as I could to my crew.
Would this appointment end sometime today, I wondered, while Marisa was waiting for her dentist to come back with the verdict. It had only been around an hour and a half since she walked into the dentist office. But as always, with Marisa and a doctor, one hour felt like 10.
I looked up at the giant flat screen wired to Marisa’s brain and saw the dentist walk back into the exam room.
“Show time!” I told everyone “Here we go….”
Marisa
“That only took 12 light years,” I said when he finally walked back into the room.
“Well, your X-ray looks fine,” he said. “I’m just going to make a note on your chart to re-visit the same tooth next time. But it looks like I don’t have to see you again for another six months.”
“Don’t sound so happy, doc,” I said. “Maybe I’ll show up tomorrow so we can spend the whole day bonding.”
“Hmm,” he said. “Bonding a tooth can take several appointments.” He winked at me.
“How about this,” I said. “See you in six months!”
I got up from the blue plastic patient’s chair and went out to the waiting room where I found my mother reading a magazine.
“Mom!” I went over to sit next to her, “I was perfectly well behaved, just like you told me to be!”
“Good job, sweetie,” she said, still reading her magazine.
“So when do I get that puppy you promised me?”
She finally looked up from her magazine and said, “Now that, honey, is another adventure.”





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