You look back on your childhood and remember all those times you got cash for teeth. Nostalgically you reminisce about the gap toothed smile, putting your teeth in a jar, making little tribal aboriginal necklaces out of your kid molars. Alright, maybe not everyone makes the necklaces. But you thought it was all over. You thought losing those beautiful bicuspid pieces of your mouth-soul was a thing of childhood. Then you grow up and it’s time to get the wisdom teeth out.
I don’t think it will be a big deal. This is the encouraging thought that runs through my head as I lay in a sterile operating room, persuading myself that it’s not a big thing to have a strange man drug you, prod metal tools in the darkest recesses of your mouth, and rip out teeth by the roots like tearing pulled pork from the bone.
But at least the hospital people are nice, right? The surgeons and nurses always act so nice to you even if they’re secretly grumpy. They always smile and act like you’re eating lunch together, not participating in a hand to mouth torture extraction. Nice people, nice people. That’s what I’m thinking, and then the surgeon walks in.
Looks normal enough to me, white smock, whistles while he enters, and is that…is that a lazy eye? Oh no, I’m gonna die.
He whips around and I think both eyes are looking at me. I can’t tell. “Howdy kid! Ready to get your teeth ripped?”
“No, not really.” I pull the death letter from my pocket. It’s not a big deal. Just in case. “Can you give this note to my friends if I die? I’m not scared, just cautious.”
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that.” He plucks up my note and drops it on the counter. “I haven’t lost a patient in oh, a good two weeks.” He chuckles. “I’m just messin’. I like to joke, set the mood.” He snaps on some gloves. “But seriously.”
“You’re a real surgeon, right? You’re not like, a Danish hitman dressed up as a doctor for killing purposes?”
“Nope, I’m as doctor as they come. Went to online college for nine months to get my oral degree.”
“Oh, that’s crazy, bet it was real tough to get in that college.”
“So I see your name is Langhorne. You like movies, Langhorne?”
“I like movies.”
“Open your mouth for me, please?” He sticks to fingers in my cavity and probes around. “Yeah, I love movies. Hostel is my favorite, and Saw. God, I love the Saw movies, just the things they do to their patients, I mean victims, so well executed. And Human Centipede? God, I love me a good comedy.”
“So are you going to operate on me now?”
“Operate? Ha! I don’t operate, Mr. Langhorne. I seduce and make love to teeth in the sweetest, most professional manner, and in the morning, I leave roses. But Jeffrey Dahmer, now there’s a guy who knew how to operate. Hey-oh!”
I can only hope this will be a painless death. I’m clearly in the clutches of a man who has a half Hannibal, half Lindsey Lohan mentality. Either way I’m dead.
“Youre going to give me lots and lots of anesthesia, right? Like, lots and lots?”
“Well shit, if you’re tryin’ to get high, then I’m tryin’ to get high.” He shuts the door, strolls to a cabinet and pulls out a bottle of twelve dollar vodka. “But in all seriousness, you’ll be knocked out. Not with rufies or anything, just normal boring dentist style.”
I point at the vodka. “That seems a little unethical to drink before you do work in my mouth.”
“Is it unethical that you can just come off the street, any stranger can just come off the street, get high off my anesthesia for two hours in my operating room, and you’re saying it’s my duty to be sober the whole time?”
“Seems like there’s a little double standard there.” He takes a swig from the bottle. “Let’s not be a hypocrite about this.”
I watch him pull a pack of Marlboro’s from a breast pocket. “I’m gonna open a window. That cool with you?”
“You smoke? You want one?”
“I have asthma.”
A cigarette dangles from his lips and he walks to the window and lights up. “I like to smoke while I work. Helps make my hands less shaky, with the severe arthritis and all. Just hope I don’t drop anything while your mouth is hanging open.”
“Yeah, that would be uncomfortable for me.”
Stay calm, Lang, everyone dies sometime. That’s what I’m telling me. At least you’re not getting mauled by a tiger, or drowning in your own vomit. It’s your time to go. The world doesn’t want you anymore. This is why the oral surgeon is pouring himself another shot in a Dixie cup.
“Alright, let’s get started. I’m gonna put this bib on you, so you don’t drool blood all over your nice shirt.”
He whips out a bib from a bin under the sink and it looks nothing like a boring, white dentist’s bib. It’s yellow and the words on the front say “I ❤ beerz and bratwurstz”. I can clearly see the leftover barbecue and grease stains.
“I feel really uncomfortable wearing something your child wore to a Sunday barbecue.”
“Well, it’s my dog’s, but I promise it’s a really clean dog bib. You don’t want the bib?”
“You don’t want the bib?”
“I don’t want the damn bib. I don’t want to die in a creature bib.”
“Well, that’s alright. I just thought it was a nice bib.”
He throws the bib back in his bib bin, presses a lever and my chair rocks back. Now I’m staring at the ceiling. Slowly, a pair of eyes, one normal, one lazy, hover into focus and gaze deep into my eyes.
“Could you imagine…” He speaks slow and deliberate, and I see him pull something from his pocket. It’s a hot dog. It’s a plain, no bun hotdog. “Could you imagine if the tooth fairy was real?”
“Are you really eating a hot dog? A pocket dog? Really?”
“I didn’t eat yet today. I didn’t think you’d mind.”
On second thought, I really don’t care. So what if the doctor eats a hot dog in front of me? In fact, I almost feel more comfortable if someone eats before they kill me. Makes me feel like I’m at home, not in some sterile white death trap a hundred yards from the highway with the view of a parking lot out the window. Pocket dog germs are the least of my worries.
“But what if the tooth fairy was real? I always think that before I rip teeth.”
“Could you please stop saying ‘rip teeth’? I thought you made love and seduced.”
“Think of how lonely the tooth fairy is. Going into all those houses, night after night, and she sees happy, loving couples nestled in their beds, with their healthy privileged children sleeping so tenderly and quiet. She goes home, she probably lives in a cave and eats Chinese take-out for dinner every night.”
He does have a good point. She is probably is the loneliest little tooth hoarder alive. I’ve got something to contribute to his musings.
“I always envisioned the tooth fairy as a young woman, and smoking hot. Not like, Anna Kendrick hot, where she’s also pretty and down to earth, but just, mostly, Scarlett Johansson nonsense hot.”
“Me too!” He gets excited and I know we’ve just made some kind of sick connection. “You know she’s a freak. I used to fantasize about her all the time as a twelve year old, then I realized my tooth fairy looked the same as my mother.”
Ew. Well, the connection has just weakened.
“That seems unhealthy.”
“Quite. But let’s get into that mouth of yours. Open wide.”
He puts a clamp in. I can’t speak. I’m waiting for the knockout gas.
“Let me just put the camera on. The Youtube videos of messed up patients always get a ton of hits. I’m gonna hit a mil.”
I can’t protest. The lights dim and I’m swimming in black fog. I’m out.
Clink. Clink clink. Clink. What is that noise? My eyes refocus and there he sits on the counter, mixing a vodka tonic in a glass with a spoon.
“Have a good night? I wrapped these for you.” He gets on one knee and hands me a ring box with a bow on top. “Patient, will you accept these wisdom teeth?”
I snatch the box from his fingers. I can’t feel my face. That’s when I try to talk.
“Thith feel therrible.”
“Oh my God!” He shrieks. “You sound soo dumb! Why don’t you have a look in the mirror while we’re in the business of sounding stupid?”
He pulls a vanity mirror off the desk and thrusts it in front of my face. “Looks like someone passed out a little early. Should’ve taken your shoes off.”
Permanent marker penises. All over my face, permanent marker penises.
“Whath wong whith you?”
“Shouldn’t have passed out, dude. Look on the forehead. I even got you with a nazi symbol. Good luck scrubbing that.”
I give him the finger. He gives me a vial full of pills. My anger slightly decreases.
“Take two of these a day. Don’t sell them on the street. Don’t swallow them all at once. Next time you party in my office be a little cooler and don’t pass out twenty minutes in.”
I leave, a little sedated, a little confused. I don’t think I could have dreamed that but wow, the oral surgeon is either the biggest dick I know or the coolest man I’ve ever met.