A Lighter View… Who is that masked man?

A Lighter View… Who is that masked man?

By Karen M. Morris, Humorist

I carry three things in my purse: needle-nose pliers, scissors to cut my kids’ food (the 19-year-old is starting to complain when we eat in public), AND floss. When it comes to my teeth, I have a severe case of separation anxiety…I don’t want to lose them.

For years, Dr. Moe Lars was my dentist. He had a spit bowl that looked like a miniature toilet constantly flushing, and his hygienist was also his receptionist, and accountant. Dressed in colorful alpaca sweaters, Dr. Lars hummed show tunes while he worked. The man was a genius; he knew the songs to every Broadway musical.

During a routine amalgam filling, Dr. Lars told me I was a tooth grinder and said that at the rate I was going, my teeth would be the size of Tic Tacs by the time I was old enough to vote. Overwrought, I missed the spit bowl. “Karen,” he said wiping my drool off his shoe, “don’t neglect your teeth.”

I’ve never forgotten what Dr. Lars told me. I have every flavor of floss except “low-cal chocolate.” I get my teeth cleaned three times a year and demand a full set of mouth X-rays, even if I’m only stopping by to pay my bill. At my wedding, I wore a plastic mouth guard. My tongue hung out and I whistled when I said my vows…but I still had all of my teeth.

When our family moved, the first thing I did was look for a dentist to get my teeth X-rayed and measured. I’d heard about a man with a reputation for being on the cutting edge and the best in the tooth biz…a Dr. Whitey Choppers. We had a “get to know you” appointment, and I was impressed. He had everything you could want in a dentist—comfortable waiting room furniture, current issues of People magazine, and small hands.

Weeks later, I woke up with a sick tooth. She was all achy, refused food, and screamed when anything touched her. By all appearances, I had either lockjaw or mercury poisoning. In a state of panic, I raced to Dr. Chopper’s office and told the staff my diagnosis. They told me to take a seat and the doctor would see me shortly. So, I curled up in a ball and moaned. Then, I laid across three chairs and thrashed. Finally, I kicked the gentleman next to me and whispered, “Help me” to an elderly woman across the room. The other patients insisted the doctor see me next.

A hygienist named Lisa called my name and had me follow her to a small cubicle with a motorized chaise lounge. I hopped aboard the leather bull, and tried to start it up. Before I knew it, the chair was spinning.

“Please don’t do that,” said Lisa. “Why don’t you lie back and get comfortable while I get your chart?”

I liked Lisa. She had great hair. When she came back, Lisa found me hovering near the ceiling. She slowly lowered my chair and smiled. “Here,” she said, handing me a paper cup, “swish this around your mouth.” I swallowed it and handed her the crumpled cup. “That was mouthwash; you weren’t supposed to drink it.” I told her I was hypoglycemic and consumed it for medical reasons.

Next, Lisa tried to put a bib on me. I grabbed her hand and yelled, “I can’t breathe! It’s choking me!” She pointed out that she hadn’t hooked it up yet and I could resume breathing. Everything was going well until she lowered my head. Being short and slightly overweight, I started slipping down the chaise lounge. I tried to stop my descent, but, within five minutes, I had skidded out of the chair and back out to the waiting room.

Lisa retrieved me and put me back into the chair. Before I let her look in my mouth, I asked for a shot. She said it wasn’t routinely done for a visual exam, but she’d mention it to the doctor. When she tried to pry my lips apart, I started to gag. I told her I had a “trigger throat” and asked for a shot, again. Lisa smiled and said she would get Dr. Choppers.

I was trying to access my Hotmail account on the cubicle’s computer when I heard raspy breathing like Darth Vader. I turned and saw someone in more protective gear than a Mercury astronaut. He had booties, a plastic face shield and glasses with magnifying tentacles. Frightened, I pointed and screamed, “Who is that masked man!”

“Don’t be a fop,” replied Lisa, “that’s Dr. Choppers.”

Choppers discovered a hunk of floss embedded near a molar. Lisa gave me some mouthwash in case my blood sugar dropped again. And I went home with all my teeth.

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