So, I went to the dentist today.

Bet you didn’t think that’s where this was going….but at least now, if you were hoping for something a little more x-rated, you can return to your search without having wasted too much time here.  You are welcome.

Anyway, if I were to rank medical services in order of those I like least, the gynecologist would be first, followed closely by the dentist.  In both cases, you are supine on a table with an orifice wide open and on display….and does anyone really like that?  As I get older, I suspect the butt doctor will also make the list.

If I’m being honest, it’s not entirely because of the services they perform that I’m loath to go.  I’m not afraid of the doctor and I have a relatively high threshold for pain, so it’s not White Coat Syndrome that’s the problem.

At some point in my life, I developed a bizarre sort of inferiority complex when it comes to interacting with certain people.  Like….country club members, golf course pro’s, sales personnel in high-end stores, spa employees, desk clerks at really nice hotels, hair dressers at really nice salons and medical professionals…..among others.  Perhaps it’s just a facet of my overall social awkwardness, but for some reason, I always feel like a Hefty bag disguised in a Nordstrom shopper.

Why?  Beats the hell out of me.  Maybe it’s because I lack the charm school breeding that makes knowing which fork to use common knowledge.  I grew up somewhere between the upper tier of the lower class and the lower tier of the middle class.

Having not grown up on the ritzier side of life, being able to afford certain indulgences from time to time now, feels great, but also a little foreign.  I’m certainly not complaining, not one bit, but still….I always wonder if people see me coming and assume I won big on a scratch ticket and decided to treat myself before heading home to tend to the tire planters decorating my dirt yard.

Regarding medical professionals specifically, I see them as being among the class of people who are comfortable and feel at home in the environments where I feel like an imposter….and so we are not equals.

All of this, by the way, I do recognize as being completely and utterly….ridiculous.  People are just people, right?  This is true….as it relates to everyone, but me.

As people go, my dentist and my gynecologist are both quite lovely and they have been looking after my body parts in the north and south for awhile now….so you would think there would be a certain level of comfortable familiarity associated with these visits….but you would be wrong.  I tend to treat every exam like it’s a first date that could end up reaching third base and I want them to be impressed, instead of disappointed, by what they find.

As it pertains to the dentist, I typically start flossing with a bit more regularity about a week or so before the appointment and then obsessively rinse my mouth raw with extra strength Listerine….as if this will trick my Ivy League educated dentist into believing I have been flossing all along….or brushing all along…..because I’ll admit there are some mornings I’m so strapped for time….I just chew gum with extra-whitening.

This is not to say my teeth are all 50’s European like.  Overall, my dental health is just fine.  Yet, I still can’t help but feel like I’ve failed some life exam after every visit….thanks in part to the sludge the hygienist has wiped across the paper bib draped over my chest….but also because I am the type of person with whom nearly every conversation has two layers….what the person actually said and what I heard.


What the hygienist said during my cleaning:  “Have you been flossing daily?”

What the hygienist meant during my cleaning:  “I know for damn sure you don’t floss every day….because I’m pretty sure I just removed a portion of last year’s Thanksgiving dinner from between your back molars.

What the hygienist said during my cleaning:  “See this?”  (holds up something small and gross on the tip of her pick)  “This is an indicator that you might not be getting to those hard to reach places with your toothbrush.  Just make sure you focus a bit more on these areas.

What the hygienist meant during my cleaning:  “See this?  It’s pretty much mouth poop.  Ick.”

What my dentist said when he came in for the exam:  “Judy (hygienist) says you’re doing a great job with your brushing.”

What my dentist meant when he came in for the exam:  “Judy has always been a liar.  In fact, she’s in the bathroom right now taking a bleach bath in the sink.”

After the exam, I do the walk of shame to the receptionist desk….clutching my goodie bag with a new toothbrush, dental floss and small tube of toothpaste inside….and I imagine the hygienist and dentist shaking their heads at my back as if to say, “What a waste….she’s probably not going to use any of those things.”

Imagine then….if you want to….but you probably don’t….the neurosis brought on by my gynecologist.


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