Friday, May 10, 2013

No Dentists in the Afterlife

The best thing I can think of to look forward to when I die is this: no more root canals. For that matter, no more dental visits, ever! I thought of this as I was having my mouth tortured by Dr. Gorgon and his hygienist/assistant, Nurse Ratchett, this past Monday afternoon.

It should come as no surprise to you that my overactive imagination tends toward the morbid. But, ah, what bliss to look forward to an eternity of zero dental visits! This must have been my fifth or sixth root canal in my lifetime. Whoever dies with the most, wins. Actually, everyone who dies, wins, because there are no dentists in the afterlife! Hall-e-freaking-luia!!

Why Gorgon let me glimpse the goddam drill bit with my peripheral vision is beyond torture. Sweet Angry Jesus, doesn’t my imagination conjure up enough sadistic imagery without that?! Gorgon is usually good with the slight-of-hand, the l├ęger de main. Freaking thing must have been an inch-and-a-half long!

So then of course I thought of the tallest cemetery monument in America, the 150-foot obelisk at the Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia. This space needle of a monument memorializes a dentist! I swear to god! The thing is like a giant root canal needle! The obelisk, like a smaller version of the Washington Monument in D.C., memorializes the guy who started the Dental School at the University of Pennsylvania in West Philly, one Thomas Evans (1823-1897). 

Actually, according to the Woodlands’ website, “At his death in 1897, Evans' left his estate to the University of Pennsylvania to found a Dental School…” Evans pioneered such dental advances as using gold for filling cavities (“Dr. Bling?”) and using nitrous oxide as an anesthetic. (So wait - if Evans was using nitrous in the late 1800s, why was my childhood dentist still using ether in the 1960s?! Freaking dentists.)


I suppose if you really were a masochist, you could visit the Penn Dental Museum, the existence of which is  indicated on the large bronze plaque (no pun intended) at the base of Evans' monument. So hey dental professionals out there, heed the words of philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873): “Work while it is called Today; for the Night cometh, wherein no man can work.” Get it all in now, while you can, cuz there ain't no dentists in the afterlife!!!

It’s day two now, and I’m going to make myself a Motrin smoothie and lick my wounds. If I sound a little bitter and have made some sweeping generalizations, that's because I'm viewing it from the pain perspective. Maybe it all began when I first saw Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man  (1976).... Naw, I hated dentists since I was a kid. By the way, if you dislike having dental work as much as I do and have never seen Marathon Man, do yourself a favor - don't.

Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man (1976)