“I noticed the word, ‘sensitive’ on your chart,” the dental technician observed with a question in her voice.
For years, I was sure my dentist had interpreted this “sensitivity” as” drug-seeking behavior,” like I was hoping for a toke of nitrous oxide.
Nope, no ploy -just cold, hard fear. But this year I’m stepping out of dental denial.
“Hi, I’m Norris. I’ve got ‘sensitive’ teeth, and it’s been thirteen weeks since my last cleaning.”
If this were my annual evaluation, “sensitive” would be a great word. But in the dentist’s chair, the word “sensitive” means a big “W” on my forehead -for Wuss.
Recently, in hopes that more cleanings would bring less agony, I consented to three annual visits. My visit this past week tested the wisdom of that strategy.
As the technician pulled her hook between my front teeth, it felt like she had found the cord that connected my entire body together. I began praying.
“God, isn’t there another way? Surely, John the Baptist never flossed locusts from his teeth.”
Finally, after what seemed like hours (which means 3 minutes in earth time), I had not yet received a revelation – so I decided to ask the dental hygienist.
“Isn’t there any way I might avoid the necessity of multiple annual cleanings?”
“Well, there might be. Have you ever used one of those sonic toothbrushes?”
“If you’re talking about the one that sounds like a dentist’s drill, I can’t see how that’s going to decrease my ‘sensitivity’ to the dentist’s chair.”
“It should help reduce the amount of visits,” she said, turning to make the sign the cross.
I know she didn’t think I saw that gesture, but I did. Nevertheless, I had to give her credit for seeking my deliverance from this dentist chair.
So, after leaving the dentist, I embarked on a quick pilgrimage to a discount warehouse, hallelujah, I found a double pack.
“This is my salvation,” I thought, as I clutched the package, barely willing to relinquish it for the cashier to scan.
On the drive home I began to pray – though a bit shallow, my prayer was sincere -“Please, God, please, please, oh puleeese, God.”
“I’ll make you a deal, God,” I said, continuing my prayer as I arrived home, “I’ll use this three times a day, if you can reduce my dental visits to once a year. How ’bout it, huh?”
“Amen” I said, as my garage door closed.
In the bathroom, I stood in front of the mirror holding the Holy Grail of bicuspid cleaning. Bracing myself for this mini jackhammer, I prayed once more “Would it be so much skin off your nose to help me with this? We’re friends, right?”
Yet, even as I prayed, I knew bargaining wouldn’t work. I can tell God my preferred destination, but I know to leave the driving up to God. A regular tooth brushing routine is really what my AA friends call “Doing the footwork, and staying out of the results.”
God never makes us beg. He’s not Bob Barker and he doesn’t want to Make a Deal.
Two years ago, I heard a dentist say he was sending my first-born to an oral surgeon who’d break her jaw in four places. As I watched her squirm with the risks of the surgery, I began my bargaining.
“God, please, if you can help us, this needs to work. This is my daughter we’re talking about. She wants to sing, speak, smile and make her living with her mouth.”
But God cut the conversation at the word “if”
He jumped right in. “Of course I’ll help. She’s MY daughter too and we both want the same things. Tell you what – you just love her up. While you’re doing all the prep work – good diet and good doctor – I’ll be doing what I do best.
“I love her too, eh. She’s a chip off the old block, she is – a sweet kid. I don’t need anything from you but that you do what you do best – be a dad. I’ll do what I do best; love your daughter and even her ‘sensitive’ dad.”
“By the way, you’re a real comic when you try to bargain. But keep your day job.”