As you might have guessed from my perpetual references to my MoMA membership, I like to pretend to know Stuff about Art. I was pleased today when I got my story assignment, covering the Cleveland Museum’s agreeing to return 14 stolen artifacts to Italy, their country of origin. It was sort of fun reminder of my own trip to Italy as well a thought provoking juxtaposition of art, politics, ego and war. Italy’s cultural minister says nasty things about the Getty Museum, Nazi robs French museums and just as soon as I’m finished vilifying those gosh-darn Nazis, it turns out that the US army totally pillaged Iraq. Yikes.
I guess the whole thing made me so anxious that I was chomping on my pen cap and 3 pieces of gum more vigorously than usual, because as I was wrapping up the story, I noticed that there was something sharp and hard in my gum. Alas, alack, twas a chunk of my tooth.
2 hours later I was uneasily situated in a chair at the NYU School of Medicine emergency tooth clinic. Mr. V, a 4th year dental student, assured me that we’d be able to fix the problem in no time. He also let me call the mouth vacuum Mr. Thirsty. He said, “Okey Dokey” a lot, and as he got to know me better, he added, “Okey Dokey Schmokey.”
Some other fun highlights:
Dr. V: Are you pregnant, possibly pregnant, on oral contraceptives?
Dr. V: Wait, really? You’re not on oral contraceptives?
Dr. V: Oh! Ok…
Me: Listen, I looked back there, and I see gunk. But, I floss every day, just for the record.
Dr. V: Um, Ok. I’ll write that down.
Dr. V: [poking at my tooth] Does this hurt?
Dr. V: Good. Otherwise we couldn’t treat you.
Dr. V: At first you said you weren’t in pain, but the emergency clinic is for pain. So, especially when my boss comes in, try to work with me on this whole pain thing.
Me: I can do that!
Dr V: Great! So you’re in pain?
Me: Lots! Emotional and physical.
Dr. V: Wonderful.
Dr. V: I’m going to fasten this bib on you. That means I’m claiming you as mine.
Sadly, Dr. V also took some X-Rays and told me that I needed a root canal. I felt bad because one of the many health questions he asked was whether I had any kind of major anxiety disorder. I had said no, but there I was, kind-of-sort-of hyperventilating, kind-of-sort-of on the verge of tears.
Dr. V: Are you ok?
Dr. V: You’re not! You’re lying to me!
Me: No, really, I’m fine.
Dr. V: You’re upset about the root canal. You, like, totally hate me right now.
Me: No, no.
Dr. V: You’re not laughing at my jokes. You’re really wrecking my self-esteem.
Me: Uh, sorry. It’s not you–really! Your jokes are funny. I’m just distracted right now.
In short, my trip to the dentist was like a dysfunctional relationship in which your partner has needles, a drill, pet names for the vacuum cleaner and marks his territory with a plastic bib. Nevertheless, I will be returning for the root canal. I have melodramatically and repeatedly told him that I will endure any amount of agony and/or drilling to have it just be a regular cavity. I’m just trying to work with him on the whole “pain thing.”