The waiting room in Jefferson Creek Dental is cold and sterile, and the receptionist at the desk smiles at you when you walk in. Her hair is blonde and sits like a helmet over her head. She assures you that it will only be a few minutes to wait, and even though you made the appointment for three-thirty, at three forty-five you are still waiting. When you look over at the receptionist laughing on her phone you are overcome with the overwhelming need to take a piss.
The men’s restroom at Jefferson Creek Dental is a perfect example of a restroom that is only ever seen in a dentist’s office. The walls are pink like gums and the urinals are shaped like teeth, so that as you relieve yourself, the stream of yellow urine seems to burrow a whole into the tooth that reminds you of your three cavities that need filling.
When you come out of the restroom, an assistant dressed in pink scrubs is waiting at the other end of the waiting room. You follow her down the short hallway and try not to look at the other patients as you pass them. The whirring of dental tools fills your ears. You overhear a dentist saying, “Hold still, now.” It takes a supreme effort of will power to stop yourself from leaving right then. You reach the end of the hall and take your seat in the plastic-lined recliner.
The blinding white overhead lamp is stretched in front of you, and to the right of your vision, Fox News is playing on a suspended flat screen television. A pale blue cloth is draped around your shoulders, and the cleaning begins.
Immediately, you can tell that the assistant is new to all this. The hooked needle pierces in between your gums and sends a lancing slice of pain through your mouth. All you hear is a giggle and a “Whoops,” from the dental trainee as she digs in again. You brace yourself through the rest of the cleaning until the dentist comes in for his mandatory appearance.
He stretches out his hand and asks for your name. The assistant left the water and air nozzle in your mouth, so your answer is garbled, but he doesn’t blink. “Nice to meet you,” he says. Then he sits down and pokes around in your mouth a bit before getting up and leaving again.
The assistant comes back and tells you your cavity fillings have been rescheduled and sends you back to the front desk. The receptionist smile stretches taut as she informs you that your insurance hasn’t come through yet and you owe one-hundred and fifty dollars for today’s visit.
You leave Jefferson Creek Dental with a sore mouth and a light wallet. Then your mother calls and asks you how the visit went.
“Fine, mom,” You say. “Just fine.”