Photo: Steve Martin as Orrin Scrivello, DDS in Little Shop of Horrors
You know how people say "I'd rather have a root canal than..." with the blank filled in by "attend a teacher conference" or "drive across the country with my mother-in-law" or "pick up after my dog" or what-have-you.
Well, I've had nearly half a dozen root canals over the last few decades. No, they're not especially enjoyable, but I can't remember any episodes of PTSD that resulted from them. I guess the worst thing you can say about them is, they always require more than two visits to the dentist. Sometimes more than three. First you go for a routine visit (or maybe not so routine -- maybe you're hurtin' for certain). The dentist tentatively gives you the bad news, with body language that suggests he's expecting you to hit him. [Pardon the sexism -- I've never met a female dentist or even heard of one. Plenty of female hygienists, though, and a few reeeeeeally scary ones!]
Okay, so then the next visit is for the actual procedure. Novocain, wait a REALLY long time, drill, more Novocain, drill, spit, rinse, repeat, temporary crown.
But that's not the worst part. No, for me it's that last visit. When they fit you with the permanent crown. That's always the most tedious part. They stick this little piece of paper in your mouth and direct you to bite it, so they can tell if the crown fits properly or not. Well, the problem with this is, the dentist always believes that little piece of paper. If it has no bite marks, they assume the crown fits just fine, whereas YOU know otherwise. When you tell them, they look annoyed that they're going to have to do extra work.
Even that, however, isn't exactly a nightmare. It's more of an inconvenient hassle. It's over soon enough, and then all you have to remember the experience by is the bill, which generally takes 9-10 years to pay off. You get it paid off right around the time the other side of your mouth decides to start acting up.
All in all, root canals don't constitute the nadir of my existence.
Nah. There are plenty of things that can make life a true misery:
- Scheduling in Microsoft Outlook. So-and-so is visiting the office and wants to meet with about a dozen different people in the company. They have 2 days available and will probably need to spend about an hour with each person. No matter how you slice it, someone always comes back saying they can't meet at that time slot, and the juggling is excruciating and goes on forever, to no one's complete satisfaction. And of course, it's all the juggler's fault.
- Haircuts and manicures. What? you ask. Those are luxuries! Indulgences! You're getting pampered! Not when the hairdresser informs me that they've never seen hair as awful, damaged and neglected as mine, and why don't I come in every eight weeks or so, like a normal, self-respecting woman would? I can't think of anything I enjoy more than being lectured by a 22-year-old. Or having a non-English-speaking manicurist frown and point at my ragged cuticles. Um, excuse me, I have to leave now. I hear the siren song of a dentist's drill!
- Medical offices that charge you a fortune and then turn your account over to a strong-arm collection agency when you send them a partial payment -- even when you make the same partial payment faithfully every month. The way I see it, the nasty, threatening phone calls should be reserved for true dead-beats. Not sick-beats like me.
- Explaining when it gets in the way of the doing. Honestly, instead of asking me why I do a particular thing the way I do it, you should try it and see. A little less talk, a little more action.
- Volunteer projects that feel like real work because whoever's running it doesn't know what they're doing. 8:00 a.m: "Plant these here." 2:00 p.m when the job is all done: "No, not there! We want them covering the wall! Dig 'em up and start over. What? We fed you lunch! You're acting like a half-sandwich and a juice box in mid-July isn't enough! You're not very civic-minded, are you?"
I'll stop here. I'm starting to sound like the late Andy Rooney, who would start out his gripe-fests with "Ever notice...?" Admittedly, his complaints were relatable to many of life's little annoyances. But I tuned into 60 Minutes for hard-hitting investigative reporting. Not folksy little fillers designed to make the viewer say "Awwww!"
Cutesy, fluffy news. Yet another thing that makes me want to call up my dentist and ask him if he has a free hour coming up.