How’s your day so far? the dental hygienist asks.
My dress is rumpled and the stained part of the slip is probably showing. My hair is sticking up weird, even though I put in the extra five morning minutes with the blow-dryer. I look terrible and I feel like throwing up.
None of this is her fault. But what does she expect me to say? Does anyone enter a dentist’s office with a cheery demeanor, knowing what’s in store there? It’s never good news to be in a dentist’s office. It’s the ‘we need to talk’ of physical locations. Pain is waiting, just beyond the beaming posters of multicultural people in multicolored crewnecks whose only common attribute is their gleaming white teeth. We’re all in this together, they are saying. Dental work is just part of being human, like headcolds or sunburn or heartbreak. Sorry, but you’re asking for it simply by having a corporeal form. Smile.
Just okay, I say. I am here to get a tooth drilled, after all.
She smiles politely, without showing her teeth, and leads me back to my chair.