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This picture depicts the guilty pleasure I felt when I stole a gift in the Christmas game we play each year.

It depicts the natural color of teeth photo-magically whitened (doctored) by the photographer for my mug head shot.*

[*For the record, it was the only fix I gave her permission to make. In retrospect, I should have given her permission to dewonkify my hair.]

The Christmas picture depicts glee identical to what I felt after I sneakily inadvertently called on a day my local dentist’s office was closed to schedule my teeth cleaning and whitening.

Oh, yippee no!

I got to had to schedule my appointment through a receptionist who agreed to a regular cleaning this one time if I promised to schedule the recommended deep cleaning next time.

I was sincere about the next time promise.

It was the two previous next times about which I’d been iffy.

If I brushed seventeen times per day and if I flossed four to six times per day and if I purchased a pricey water-pic, I might cure those pesky gums myself.

Clearly, I was either (1) lying through my periodunkulous teeth, or (2) delusional.

Let’s go with delusional.


Chats with dental hygienists typically mirror one I had with a doctor years ago during an annual wellness exam.

  • Doctor Q: “Have you performed routine breast exams?”
  • Gloria  A: “At a red light on my way over here. That’s my regular routine.”

[Public Service announcement for female readers: Do not make your doctor laugh when he wields a cold, metallic device near your personal parts.]

  • Hygienist Q: “Have you flossed regularly?”
  • Gloria A:        “Yes [long pause] for a week after you last saw me and in your restroom a few minutes ago.”

Monday, the week of The Big Tooth Caper, I got a call from my regular hygienist.

Seems they keep pesky computer records of prior conversations. Who knew? Alert the ACLU!

Deep clean or no cleaning. My choice. No she would not/could not deep clean and whiten on the same day.

No. She would not/could not give me a regular cleaning one more time.

Yes. Her two lovely children were doing fine, thank you for asking.

But, no she would not do a regular cleaning one more time even though I was scheduled to leave on my sabbatical in ten days and wanted to have my teeth whitened while the $200 discount was still valid, pretty please and…

DRAT! Two appointments in one week.


My dentist will not give me happy gas.

He will sell me happy gas, but White House|Black Market will also sell me a rocking hot bustier [on sale!] for the same amount of money.

I did the math on minutes of pain versus minutes of happy. Game on for bustier.

Besides, I do not mind shots. I lie back, relax, and take my imagination to my happy place.

The dentist jiggles my cheeks and lips when he delivers shots.

I suppose it’s to keep me from getting tense.

He need not have worried. I had my hands crossed on my belly and was quietly deciding what colors would go best in my Imaginary Deluxe Tree House (Sage? Gem Tones? Red and yellow?).

To be honest, I was close to dipping into a nap zone when the dentist jerked me back to reality.

To avoid dialog tags, I choose to tell you about my conversion with the dentist’s dialog in BLACK, my brain’s thoughts and intended dialog in RED, and the words that spewed from my mouth in PURPLE.

“You doing okay?”

“Uh-huh. I’m in my happy place.”

“Unh-huh. I i-i-n I haaaady lace.”

“You’re in your happy place?”


Dang! Talking without lips is hard. No matter. I think sage, but what color coordinates…

ERK! What if he thinks my “happy place” is something kinky? What if his brain is weird wired like mine? I’d better clarify.

“It’s a tree house in the Rockies.”

“Id uh d-e-e-e oud in the Ahkeeeed”

“A tree house in the Rockies? That’s nice. Move your head a little to the left. Good. Hold it right there.”

Man, he’s good. Now, sage and fall colors? That would look…

ACK! What if he thinks I’m nuts?  A real tree house in the Rockies? Better clarify while he’s refilling his gun needle.

“It’s an imaginary tree house.”

“Iguh a-a-ra-guh-rary guh-ree ough.”

I can not control my tongue. It’s too big for my mouth. I think I’ll shut up now.

“Ah. An imaginary tree house. I thought that’s what you meant. Open wide. This next one’s going to pinch.”

No it’s not.

I’m in my happy place.

I think I’ll have a loft that’s nothing but a comfy mattress, lots of pillows, and bookshelves. O-o-o-o-h! And, a balcony…

But, he doesn’t need to know that. Thanks for the pat on the shoulder, doc. I know the drill. You’ll be back to make sure I’m numb in a few minutes. And, that one shot? The one at the back that angled up toward my eyeball? I think it numbed my brain.

“ang uuuuu”


Feed yourself before you go for a dentist’s appointment that will involve numbing your entire mouth — lips and tongue included.

If you choose not to follow that advice, it’s best to write a note with your desired order on said note before entering Starbucks.

If you write that note, it should not contain the word “smoothie.”

Why? [Aside from the obvious you-can’t-say-the-word reason.]

Because drinking a smoothie requires the ability to suck on a straw, which involves the use of both working lips and tongue.

Trust me. This is not easy.

Trust me. Taking the lid off to sip yields a smoothie-waterfall into and onto everything but your lips and tongue.

What to do?

Drive to a remote place, prop your drink on your steering wheel, and use the visor mirror to pinch your robotic lips around the end of the straw.

You will then be able to nourish your body with the limited about of smoothie not already decorating your blouse, steering wheel, and jeans.


This bit is short. Because one is unable to speak once the hygienist inserts what feels like an inverted eighteen-wheeler inner-tube over your teeth.

So. Back to the happy place.

The only problem this time is that I don’t have activity in the alcove that opens to EVERY OTHER ALCOVE IN THE LARGE OFFICE, INCLUDING THE LOBBY.

How will I pass the time?

Why, I’ll fall into a peaceful nap in my happy place.

And, I will snore.

I will snore with such enthusiasm, I jerk myself awake three four so many times I stopped counting.

And, then I will slink from the office, hoping different people are on duty when I pick up my dental trays for future whitening at home.

And, I will floss twice a day for the rest of my life. And, this time I mean it. This time I’m doing it.

No joke. No lie. No imaginary flossing.

COME ON! Leave a comment and tell me you’ve done something totally perio-or-otherwise-dunkulous. Do you follow the doctor and dentist’s orders? If yes, goody-two-shoes for you you are to be commended. Tell us about it.

If you don’t. Tell us about it. I need company in my wonky world.

Whatever you do, smile and do something today “just because…”