I called her more than a month ago. I didn’t have any dental problem at that time. I just wanted to talk to her. Tell her… I don’t know what. Her receptionist wanted to know if it was an emergency. I said no, I just wanted to talk to Joanne. Joanne Pretty, that’s her name. What a funny name for a dentist.

“Do you want to make an appointment with Doctor Pretty?” the receptionist wanted to know.


“Is it an emergency, Peter? Are you having some pain? I’ll have her call you back.”

“Ya, that would be good.”

And click, she hangs up.

Then a few minutes later the phone rings. “This is Doctor Warren’s office on call for Doctor Pretty. Come in this afternoon, Peter. He will fit you in.”

I hang up the phone.

I don’t want to see Doctor Warren. I want to see Doctor Pretty. I don’t want to see her; I just want to talk to her. I don’t even want to talk to her; I just want to smell her. She smelled so nice the last time I was in her office when she worked on my teeth — her crisp uniform. I just want to smell her. Is that so bad? It sounds bad. I don’t know what I would have said to her. “Joanne, do you mind if I smell you?” I mean, how the hell am I supposed to tell her that I like her.

That all happened over a month ago. And now I do have a problem. I’ve got an abscess — a molar that’s got to come out.

I call and make the appointment. I go in and see her. She puts this heavy lead vest over my chest for x-rays. And oh my, she smells just as good she did the last time.

I’m just about getting ready to say something to her — I don’t know what, but something — when her assistant, Rosemary, comes in the room. Too late, I blew it.

And then everything starts to happen. Joanne rolls over in her mobile chair, and she rests a healthy breast on my right arm. And now I can really smell the smell. Antiseptic to be sure, but female too. God love us, they both crowd in on me, Rosemary on my left, Joanne on my right. They lean over me with face masks. They take out my bridge-work without asking me. zeytinburnu escort Why should they ask? They don’t have to ask.

When I go to my regular doctor for a tetanus shot, they use a tiny little needle. One injection, and I’m good for ten years. Not so in the dental profession. For a novocaine shot, good for two hours, they use a hypodermic syringe big enough to kill a rhinoceros. Joanne lifts it aloft, she brandishes it left and right.

“You might feel a little pinch, Peter,” she says. And then she slides it into my tender gums.

They chit chat a minute or two waiting for the novocaine to take effect. I can’t say anything, my mouth full of equipment, but I give ’em my best smile absent my upper and lower dentures.

Soon the numb spreads down my tongue and out around my lower lip.

The two women begin to move in close-order drill. Suction in my mouth, gauze sponges, heavy metal instruments clank on a porcelain tray suspended over my chest. Like Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers, they dance with looks and signals. They lift and pry and wedge and split — sop up blood. Helpful Rosemary puts two thumbs inside my lower jaw and pulls down while Joanne pulls up. The root of this forty-year-old molar does not intend to give up its grip on my fragile jaw bone.

Then a momentary pause. The women look down into my mouth like two battery commanders mapping out some kind of a war strategy. And then, “I’m gonna lay back a slab,” says Joanne, “so I can get lower down on the shank.”

Oh Jesus…

She does the cut and then she grapples on again with her forceps. More twisting fore and aft, side to side.

And the whole time while this is going on I can’t get it out of my mind. I mean, what I was thinking about when I came in here. She’s got her right hip pushed into me for leverage. I know it’s serious business for her, but she must be aware of how she has got herself pushed into me. Would be so easy for me to put my hand around behind her.

I hear the crackling sounds that tell aksaray escort of my roots giving way. Victory close at hand for her. And victory close at hand for me if I will just do what I have to do. And now is the time. She’s got a lot on her mind. She won’t notice.

Oh God, Peter, of course she will notice, you jerk. And then I think, yes, she’ll notice, but she won’t be able to do anything about it. Or maybe she won’t choose to do anything about it.

And even while this debate goes on in my head, I ease my arm off the edge of the chair, drop it vertical and then, ever so carefully, I curl it up around behind her crisp uniform. My heart pounding now — not from loss of blood. I grope my hand up into the junction between her legs and her bottom. She stiffens momentarily. She stiffens… one, two, three. And then she goes back to work. I think, oh my God, I’ve got my hand up there, and she’s gone back to work.

And that’s true, but I notice she is getting a little rougher with the forceps. I wonder if that could be a signal. I mean, maybe she’s pissed. Or maybe she likes it. We’re looking right at each other, but I just can’t tell because she’s got this damn mask on her face. Then she looks at Rosemary like she’s trying to figure out if Rosemary notices anything unusual. After a moment she seems to be satisfied that Rosemary can’t see what’s going on.

And meanwhile I’m thinking: it can’t last, so I better find out what I can find out, while I can. So I feel a little bit, find the outline of her underpants. Feel of her bottom, how firm it is — things like that.

And then I begin to think, this isn’t so bad what I’m doing. What’s she going to do walk off, and let me bleed to death? No, she’s a professional. She’s going to act like a professional. It occurs to me that I’ve got her at a substantial disadvantage.

And then, crunch — out comes the bloody molar. They mop and sop my tender mouth. Joanne sutures my gums. Rosemary lifts the suction tube out of my mouth. Just when she turns to put it ataköy escort away, eyes diverted — just at that moment — Joanne reaches around behind herself and withdraws my busy hand from her bottom. She politely lifts my arm back onto the dentist chair.

Then they put their hands behind my neck. They lift me up so I can spit blood and corruption into a little round basin, a stainless-steel tube inside circulating fresh water — like a tiny toilet bowl.

They stand back from me; they lift up their cotton masks. I can see a moment of relief in their eyes.

Then Joanne says to Rosemary, “I could stand a cup of coffee. How about you?” And Rosemary leaves the room. And then Joanne picks up the x-ray vest, and she lays its heavy weight back onto my frame. Except this time lower down on my torso. Like over my mid-section and down over my hips. And I think, what’s this about — but I say not a word — just lie there quietly.

And then, carrying two cups of coffee, Rosemary comes back into the room — a little too soon evidently, a little too soon for Joanne’s likes.

“Oh, could you make a fresh pot, Hon?” says Joanne. “That would taste sooo good.” And Rosemary goes out of the room again.

Then Joanne commences to run her hand underneath the x-ray vest. She carefully works her way down into my lap with gentle squeezing and probing underneath the weight of the vest. Her strong hands kneed and prod like she’s trying to make believe she’s a medical doctor. And all the while, a look of concentration on her face, her head dropped forward, she stares down at the parquet tiles on the office floor. I feel suddenly helpless — no way to prevent her. She’s my caregiver.

And then the sound of squeaky shoes, Rosemary coming back in with the fresh coffee. Joanne withdraws her hand from under the vest. She lifts it away from me.

Nothing more said.

They sip coffee for a minute or two. They raise up my chair to a sitting position. I get up to go. Joanne gives me a slip to take out on my way to see the receptionist.

The receptionist says, “Yes, Peter. Dr. Pretty wants to see you… Let’s see, I’m not sure why she needs a follow-up with you, but she wants to see you next Tuesday night at 9:15. Will that be okay?”

“Ya.” My mouth is still numb; I can’t say very much, but I don’t have any trouble nodding vigorously.



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