Adventures in Erotic Dentistry
I get a cleaning from my dentist — or, more accurately, my dentist’s dental assistant — twice a year. Prior to about 10 years ago, I hadn’t visited a dentist for most of my adult life unless I absolutely had to, and I never absolutely had to. My teeth, thankfully, are one aspect of my body that seem to be able to take care of themselves. If only my feet could take a lesson from that.
I don’t generally have any more anxiety about a dentist visit than I do about, oh, going to the corner coffee shop or out to a movie. That is to say, I always have some anxiety about doing pretty much anything, besides watching TV or sitting here in front of my trusty, silent computing friend. But given the alternatives, I suppose I’d rather do almost anything than sit in the dentist’s chair, as comfortable as it is, and have someone else staring into my open gob while wearing magnifiers as they insert surgical steel instruments and… do things to me.
For one thing, I never know where to look. I certainly don’t want to stare into her eyes. For one thing, I can see my own mouth in the reflection of her glasses. It’s a red gaping maw filled with coffee-stained buds and a fleshy tongue moving almost constantly, and the whole thing is bathed in a glistening coat of saliva and mucus. How (or why) she has decided that this is how she wants to spend her afternoons is anyone’s guess.
So I can’t stare at her, and since there is no wide screen LCD attached to the ceiling showing me my favorite movie or an Xbox game or something equally diverting, I find that I am simply staring at the blank ceiling. My dentist moved into new offices about a year ago and the new ceilings are extraordinarily dull. In the old offices, they had those ugly black-pitted acoustic tiles lining the ceiling and I could amuse myself looking for patterns in the chaos.
I always assumed that the tiles’ seemingly random array of dots wasn’t random at all, and that possibly there were four or five different sets of tiles and they were set into the grid at different angles and associations based on nothing at all. Did the installers care about the patterns as much as I did? Did they realize and care that a series of patients would be forced for an hour to do nothing but stare up at them? Were they amusing and surprisingly bright ceiling installers, or perhaps they were chaos statisticians on holiday, and that is what chaos statisticians on holiday do. Then they go away and sit by themselves staring at, I don’t know, different kinds of flower stamen while smiling inwardly at their own carefully planned chaotic dental jokes, happy in the knowledge that someone, somewhere is stuck in a chair attempting to figure out their patterned jokes.
The new office ceiling has no such amusements. Like God, it simply is. A blank, off-white canvas with occasional creases in the plaster. Still, my eyes searched its surface for some sort of something to latch onto besides the constantly staring reminder that someone is inside my mouth.
Is there anything more intently personal than allowing someone else to stick things inside you? No, there is not. Plus, in this instance, you can’t exactly see what’s happening but you can certainly hear it and, occasionally and shockingly, you can feel it.
I’m glad that the outsides of teeth don’t feel things. I mean, normally they don’t. Heat and cold, of course, but the rubbing of rough metal against them, not so much. Yet they transmit every notch, nick, slip and metallic scrape with more power than a Pete Townsend power chord. So here’s another thing to try to ignore. All that noise.
I’m also acutely aware of my tongue, and I wonder if other people are like that. I try to relax it so it’s not in the way, and I also try to breathe only through my nose, because only God knows what’s lodged in the folds of my throat at any given moment that I might exhale into the face of the woman I am trusting with the open exposed flesh of my mouth.
While I am doing all of this, concentrating so hard on not doing things, I will sometimes return to my body’s other many parts and discover that while my attention was diverted to everything above the neck, everything below it was going about the business of living.
I had a hard-on. Don’t even ask why. I don’t know. I certainly didn’t feel turned on. And I instantly hoped that I wasn’t, because this would be an extremely expensive and potentially dangerous fetish to have. I also hoped that it wasn’t as obvious from outward appearances as it felt from my prone position. What, I thought, would this woman think?
Probably the same things I was thinking, namely “what the hell is going on and why the hell do I have a stiffy in my pants?” Though, you know, she would’ve thought “…in his pants,” or at least one hopes that to be the case, because otherwise…
Anyway, now it’s time to shift the concentration downstairs and calm the little guy the fuck down without drawing undo attention to it. It’s funny that, even as I travel through my 40s and near a half-century of living on this planet, I can still be undone by my penis.
I can’t take a deep calming breath because there are sharp, pointy things near my gums. I can’t shift myself out of whatever caused this unintentional erection because I don’t know why it’s there in the first place. I can’t distract myself with the ceiling tile game, because there are no ceiling tiles. Just then, she says, “turn your head toward me,” because, I assume, she wants to start digging in even deeper, and as I do so my salvation comes into view.
On the wall, mounted near the spit-sink, are a pair of cardboard boxes that look like facial tissue containers, but instead of facial tissues they hold rubber gloves. There is a box of right gloves and a box of left gloves. And down at the corner of each box, a simple phrase causes my brain to discover someplace else to go besides the land of erotic dentistry.
“50 COUNT BY WEIGHT”
And I think, “the hell?” Count by weight. Count by weight? Count is counting, and weight is weighing. How does one count by weight? And 50 gloves by weight. How much does one glove weigh? And how much does the box weigh? Is there a machine that pours the raw gloves into the box and then it thinks, “I wonder if that’s 50. Shit, I should have counted instead of wondering about those ceiling tiles. Hmm, I wonder how much one glove weighs. I bet I can figure out how much 50 gloves weigh, and then weigh the box, and then I’d know if I need to add more gloves!”
As that imagery goes through my imagination, and of course the machine is a kind of Rube Goldberg robot with arms and fingers and a blinking light where its brain should be, my eye falls to another piece of information on the glove boxes, and the simple application of the two letters sends my feverish, eroticized brain into another spin.
Extra small gloves? Rubber gloves come in sizes? But they’re rubber! They stretch! How much bigger is an XL left rubber glove than an XS left rubber glove. How many sizes are there? Is there a weight differential between an XS left rubber glove versus an XL left rubber glove that would need to be compensated for when weighing a box of 50 to be sure that there are at least 50 in there? Would it matter if there were 51? And why are there left and right gloves? Couldn’t you just flip a left over and have a right? I look at the dental assistant’s rubber-gloved hands. They look like ordinary rubber gloves. Why the big production? Is there a rubber glove conspiracy going on?
My eyes go back to the glove boxes and I notice something else. The left rubber glove box says “50 COUNT BY WEIGHT” but the right rubber glove box says “100 COUNT!” How do they know? Oh my God, they have to count the 100-count boxes but only weigh the 50-count boxes! There are some people in a factory in China being paid 2¢ an hour to count rubber gloves. But only the 100-count rubber gloves. There’s not enough profit in a 50-count box to pay anyone to count them!
People are brilliant!
Thankfully, my travels down the path of rubber gloves, robots, Chinese labor and the subtle differences between one’s left and one’s right hand (though remind me to tell you some day about “The Man With Three Thumbs”) has allowed my burgeoning manhood to succumb to boredom and I can once again concentrate on the important matters at hand, like where my tongue is and why they still use that same aquarium screen saver on the computer in the waiting room.
I mean, really, what’s that about?
July 23, 2008