Friday, May 1, 2009

My Hiatus Roadshow At The Dentist's

Having time off to explore with my hiatus has really been something. Today off on another motel excursion, taking a bite out of time.

I found another great theme room motel and today I'll be staying in a room with a most curious theme, that of dental history. The room is made up like a dentist's office except of course it has a bed.

It's a great theme, dentist offices through history and the modern office. I might have to reread McTeague, because there's some mentions of this book. He was a dentist with a big huge tooth for a sign. Some great dental comedy was provided by the Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy. I think Moe, just to take an example, had more teeth accidentally pulled in his career than the typical mouth even sports! And not little baby teeth either, but big ones, with roots like aspens.

There was all kinds of "painless" dentistry advertised around 1905 or 1895. Which ... I'll bet! Since it was still painful when I was a kid and that was since 1905. They probably used a mallet to whack you in the head, like Moe. Or some kind of anesthesia that carried weird side effects, like complete blood poisoning.

Back then the old doc was up the stairs, across from an apartment with immigrants, a mother and children crying all day. The husband was out selling cod to passersby. The children's cries muffled the patients' screams and various noises of the dentist's pickax.

Later, the electrical drill added a lot to the dentist's efficiency, but mankind's anxiety level sped up to match. You hear one of those drilling on a dry tooth, unable to dodge a nerve, and you see or smell the smoke rising, you know you'd leave in terror if they didn't have you strapped down. The way it is, if you can pass out simply by willpower you're a lot better off.

This is some room, boy, with a plush dentist chair that they must have gotten at the Dental Surplus Store. Some doc went out of business. Maybe got a divorce and his wife was an equal partner. She was mad and wanted to drive him out of business so he wouldn't remain rich. He didn't fight because he knew it'd all come out in public. The affairs he carried on with the assistants and patients. So he lost his practice and then his chair. Little sinks, little faucets, little mirrors. Everything we've known and loved over the years.

Laying on the bed I look up at the posters the dentist likes to keep your mind occupied with. Including movie posters, Olympic gymnasts, and woodland scenes. The old campfire is smoldering while a bear picks through the cooler.

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