Thursday, August 08, 2013

nothing but the tooth

I've been going to the same dentist for the last 12 years, even though I moved 15 miles away in 2005, because I tend to stick with what I know, even when it doesn't make sense anymore. (See also: relationships, jobs) Plus he offered evening hours, which was good because I didn't have to take time off work to see him. But he changed his hours, so I decided to go ahead and book an appointment with Dr. Hirakawa, who is conveniently located halfway between home and work. That's not his real last name, but I chose it to put across the point that he's Japanese-American. This will be relevant shortly.

Fast forward to yesterday, when I showed up to Dr. Hirakawa's. I checked in, and my ass had barely hit the waiting room couch when the dentist came out and led me to a chair. We made small talk as he put on his gloves and mask, and then he began working.

Now, I usually put my cell phone on silent when I'm in a doctor's office, but I forgot because they ushered me back to the chair so quickly.

And it went off.

And my fucking ringtone is that glorious 80's ode to masturbation*: "Turning Japanese" by the Vapors.

Dr. Hirawaka paused briefly in his ministrations, and then continued without comment. My face burned and I said, "Sorry about that, I meant to turn it off." (Actually, with my mouth full of gauze and assorted dental tools, it sounded more like "sawwy bow dat, ah men to turn ih off". But I think he understood.)

"No problem," he said calmly.

The rest of my appointment went smoothly, aside from when they started playing "If You Leave Me Now" by Chicago on the Muzak and I wanted to jump through the window. That is by FAR my least favorite song in the world, and it's not just that I hate it, I have an actual visceral reaction to it. It actually makes me nauseated. I have been known to leave restaurants where it was playing and wait five minutes in the parking lot until I was sure it was over. Hearing it when I cannot easily escape, like in a dentist/doctor's office or when I'm getting my hair cut, is literally torture for me. (Oddly enough, my brother has a similar, though not nearly as strong, reaction to it.)

Eventually, Dr. Hirakawa passed off the rest of the work to his hygienist, a very cheerful Japanese-American woman he introduced as his wife. Afterwards, she asked me, "Do you floss?"

"Uh, nowhere near as often as I should," I admitted, and she actually looked heartbroken.

"Oh, no!" she cried, clasping her hands in front of her chest. "Please, you MUST floss!"

So these are the things I must remember before my next visit in February:

  • Floss
  • Wear earplugs to brace against potential Chicago assault

* An explanatory note for those of you too young to remember the days before political correctness: "turning Japanese" was slang for masturbating because of the face a man would allegedly make at the time of climax. Another, more frequently used expression (and I am in NO WAY condoning the use of either of these terms, only explaining) was "bucktoothed Chinaman". Man, kids in the 80's were racist. I blame Blanche Knott.