Ever since I realized in college that all the guys that I had crushes on were atheists, I became an atheist, too. I wish that weren’t quite so close to the truth as is, but, since I don’t have time to outline any major proofs against the existence of god here, we’ll need to leave it at that. Anyway, as my loyal followers know, two weeks ago I went to the dentist and he told me that I had to have a root canal. Then he got mad at me for not laughing at his jokes, then I snapped (internally), “You’re so narcissistic, just like all the other men in my life…” and well… then I made an appointment to get it fixed.
But for the past two weeks I have been desperately hoping that this root canal would turn out to be just a regular cavity. He said that it might be avoidable, and I’d heard that if you’re willing to withstand a fair amount of oral pain, sometimes they can put in a filling even though they’re kinda-sorta drilling into your nerve. (see above: “just like all the other men in my life.”) I’d been preparing the speech I would give to my dentist when I arrived, in effort to convince him to avoid the root canal.
Main Talking Points:
1. I will endure any amount of pain
2. I am very very very busy. I have school! I have to write 2 papers and give presentations!
3. And I have work! I can’t miss work…if my 22 followers on Twitter don’t get their next fix of findingDulcinea headlines, the Internet will collapse.
4. I can endure any of amount of pain.
5. I am really worried about school! If you numb my mouth, it might numb my brain. I will fail.
6. I have to go to work! If I don’t, I’ll a) go into Internet withdrawal and b) realize I’m addicted to the Internet. I will then have a root canal and an addiction.
7. Did I mention I endure pain like a pro?
8. If you can’t do it, I’ll find someone who will.
Yes, it was pretty much going to go like any important other conversation I’ve ever had, even though I was a bit dubious about whether the threat of, “I’ll cut you out of my life completely” was going to work on my dentist. But really, talking points aside, I was thinking about god.
I was wondering, was this intense hoping-type-feeling I was experiencing actually a praying-type feeling? I thought about BBM-ing my dad, “Since YOU believe in god, can you ask him if he has time to make this a cavity instead of root canal?” That’s when I realized I had gone too far. The cutest boys in the world can have renounced the notion of deity, but if you are asking your dad to pray to a god you “don’t believe in” on your behalf, you have a problem.
I think most great religious leaders have a defining moment of bleak doubt. St. Augustine, for example, party like a rock-star for several years before giving himself over to the Big C. Like, St. Augustine, I was saying, I know what’s wrong and what’s wrong and what’s right. But until I’m 100 % sure, I’m going to have it both ways, enjoy all the niceties that go along with being weak and ambivalent. Make me believe LATER. Then later, he has the revelation, and there’s no doubt that it’s time.
I had my moment of revelation in the chair.
I was reciting the phrase in my head: “I can endure any amount of pain.” And I realized, that if it came down to it, whether I got a root canal would actually depend on how much pain I could endure, and not actually depend on god at all. It was I, not god, who would need to man up and deal. Some people might find strength in believing in an outside force. This is fine for them. But in that moment, it clicked, and I knew that I was not one of those people. I realized that being a true atheist means coming to terms with things you need to do yourself and not delegating responsibility to Him.** (I began then to question whether it was true that I could really endure any amount of pain…)
Sadly, as it turned out, my conversion proved one thing. That if you don’t believe if God, you become devoid of morals, you open yourself up to heathens and your dentist will say inappropriate things to you.
My dentist was relatively nice for the early part of the morning. Then he introduced his supervisor, aged 65. I was being drilled on, and wearing a purple balloon which had been propped open for 20 mins with a big block.
Doc: Hey babe, how are you?
Doc: Great. Don’t worry. You look cute. You look real cute right now.
Doc: I wasn’t talking to you, I was talking to the other guy. Hahha.
Doc: The filling looks good. You know what else looks good, her socks! I love socks, Babe, I love polka dots.
My densist: They actually train us to make jokes, so we can take your mind off the fact we’re shoving things in your mouth.
Next Doctor (pushing 80):
Doc: Hey! look at this one! She looks great from upside down!
My denist: She looks good standing up, too.
Doc: That’s what I’m saying, if she looks this good upside down, it’s good news.
My dentist: Doctor B. is very charming. You’ll have to watch out for him.
Doc: I am. And she’s a cute little thing. I eat little things like her for breakfast.
My dentist: See? He’s charming.
Upon bringing me to the receptionist, my dentist told me that she didn’t like him, because he was too serious.
Me: He wasn’t serious at all, with me.
My dentist: Yeah, she was EASY.
My dentist: Oh my god! You went there! I didn’t mean it like that, and you both went there. I didn’t mean it!
That’s what she said….