My new dentist is thorough. She and her assistant had me chair-bound for an hour before they cleaned my teeth.

The dentist took an inventory of my mouth, relating everything she saw to the assistant who took it all down in a shorthand that sounded like “XB1fused, TR7exploded, MN2A galvanized, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, go long on hut hut hut.”

The dentist apologized for being a fast talker. Her assistant talks fast, too. Talking over me, as I lay poised for blast off to the moon, they sounded like human machine guns. I caught every 52nd word.

Most of what my dentist told me about my teeth I already knew. My other dentists have kept me well-informed over the years. The thing with dentists is they can’t keep a secret. They see something in your mouth, they tell the first person they see which is you.

Not this dentist but another dentist had a hygienist who told me things about patients who’d blasted off for the moon earlier in the day. I forgot everything the hygienist said before she finished saying it.

When I’m at the dentist, I think one thing, “Oh, how I want to be driving away from here.”

Among the many questions I answered while applying to become a dental patient were these: Has anything ever happened to you at the dentist that made you scream for your mommy?

“No,” I lied.

“If your answer was a lie, how old were you the last time you screamed for your mommy to hurt the dentist?”


“Do you want to keep your teeth the rest of your life?”

I took liberties with the first question. The second question is verbatim.

I checked the box “Pretty much.”

While spraying words over me and grabbing my tongue, my new dentist saw something she didn’t like. Darn.

I spent part of the next day’s lunch hour at the oral surgeon. He congratulated me and most of my teeth for staying together all these years.

I had the feeling, maybe, I did not have advanced mouth cancer that had spread to everyone around me.

“The thing under my tongue?” I asked.

“Bruise,” the oral surgeon said. “Contusion. Come back in six weeks, and I’ll tell you the same thing. It is what it is.”

See, my tongue attaches to the floor of my mouth on a short leash. Sticking my tongue out at my grandson, which I only do if he sticks his tongue out at me, might have caused the bruising.

“What else?” the oral surgeon asked.

“You’re a hell of a guy,” I said. “Last one in the parking lot has bleeding gums.”

So far, I’ve kept all the promises I make when the Reaper doesn’t see me hiding behind the water cooler.

I haven’t followed my wife around the house turning off the lamps. I keep the door closed to the living room so the cat can’t run in, puke and run out. I flossed after dinner and put my teeth guard where I’d be sure to see it as I climbed into bed.

Who knows where I put the night guard?

I’ll find it, surely I’ll find it, before the cat does.