I am not easily intimidated.
That shouldn’t be at all surprising-I never have been. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a sort of reckless, unquenchably defiant streak that’s landed me in some rather sticky situations over the course of my twenty-three years. One November at Thanksgiving, as my family sat in a circle and one-by-one answered that age-old “what are you thankful for this year?” question, I crossed my wiry little arms, jutted out my chin and adamantly refused to say a darn thing. [Silence has always been a rather noteworthy phenomenon around me, thus I instantaneously captured the rapt attention of each person sitting around the dinner table that night.] When questioned as to the cause of my uncharacteristically sealed lips, I replied that I didn’t think the Native Americans who had their land shamelessly stolen in exchange for smallpox infested blankets could possibly have been thankful at all, and announced that as a show of solidarity I had decided not to be thankful that year.
The point here is, even as a child, it was nearly impossible to make me feel like a child.
Which brings us to last Thursday afternoon-just another endless, hazy summer day during which I found myself trapped in the dentist office.
I confess, I was mildly petrified to visit the dentist at all, given the deplorable state of my teeth over the years [an
unfortunate phenomenon that I attribute to ghastly genetics and an insatiable love of chocolate], and the fact that Ryan Cash got back from Senegal only to discover that he had acquired five [count them, kids!] cavities over the course of his African hiatus. I was somehow certain that mine would be a similar fate, and anticipated spending the most of my Thursday in that dentist chair having smurf-sized holes drilled in my teeth.
Momentary panic threatened to overwhelm me as my sweet dental hygienist walked in and started asking me all of the usual questions.
Dental Hygienist: Do you floss?
Now, hold up right there. The time has come, friends. It’s high time for us all to drop this absurd façade and admit for the very first time that we don’t floss. It’s true. You don’t floss-I know you don’t! You may floss once a blue moon, but there’s no way that you floss every day-much less the recommended twice daily. And that’s okay! I think we should start a support group for “non-flossers” anonymous.
…and while we’re at it, I think we should also start a support group for people that habitually lie to their dentists.
Dental Hygienist: Do you floss?
Me: [Contemplating the miles of room for interpretation in that loaded question] I…have flossed before.
What is it about the dentist that causes a twenty-three year old woman to instantaneously feel like a petulant five year old?
Dental Hygienist: [With a decidedly disgusted air of chagrin] What are you supposed to do every day?
Me: [Quietly, as a very telling red flush began to creep over my face] Floss.
Dental Hygienist: And what are you going to do twice a day from now on?
Me: [Mildly ashamed] Anything you tell me to.
Sadly, it was painfully obvious that I have not been flossing regularly since I was born. I made it out of her office amidst a flurry of impassioned promises to floss every half hour and spend my weekends teaching underprivileged children the benefits of good dental hygiene.
…unfortunately, given the fact that I didn’t have any cavities, my motivation for changing my dental habits rivals my excitement for watching paint dry.
[And I’m out of floss.]