When it comes to esthetics, my teeth are the only thing on my body that seem to cooperate. My hair doesn’t follow directions and neither do my thighs or my crow’s feet, but my teeth- my lovely white and straight teeth- have always been my ally when it comes to outward appearance.
But my teeth harbor a deep and dark secret. They look nice, yes, but beneath an assortment of picks and drills, my teeth are nine kinds of jacked up. I have crowns and air pockets. I also have twelve pounds of old-school amalgam fillings on my back molars, so I’m slowly being poisoned AND I am forbidden to chew on aluminum foil like all of the cool kids do.
Despite my tooth troubles, I refuse to floss. I brush twice a day and assault my teeth with the pulsating shower massage every morning (it’s better than a water pick), but I stubbornly and rebelliously refuse to run peppermint-flavored string between each tooth. My dentist uses scare tactics and throws around terms like “Gingivitis” and “Periodontal Disease”, but I keep telling him that those things will never happen to me. He replies that denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. And I laugh.
But he doesn’t.
So, naturally, I recently found myself back in the dentist’s chair with a fresh cavity. It was a pretty deep-rooted kind of rot, and a meager Novocain shot wasn’t going to provide adequate relief. I needed the big gun. I needed the gas.
His assistant hooked me up to the N.O. and left me alone to get goofed out of my mind and watch the television hanging on the wall. The climactic ending to Teen Wolf was playing before me.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been under the influence of mind-altering drugs, but mundane things like an 80’s movie about an underdog basketball team captained by a boy-wolf tend to be extremely dramatic. And hilarious. And take place in slow-mo.
Since I was higher than a hippie on a helicopter, Teen Wolf caused me to question some of life’s greatest mysteries.
Why on earth was Michael J. Fox chosen to portray a star basketball player? I’m NOT knocking short people, but the kid is small. It’s not physically possible for Alex P. Keaton to slam dunk a basketball. Wouldn’t being a wolf-boy horse jockey be more realistic? I mean, until he transformed into a hairy-palmed beast and ate the Derby horse like a zombie on The Walking Dead.
And who thought a beaver would be a good mascot? I guess a beaver could chew through the hardwood basketball court or dam something, but other than that, beavers aren’t the most intimidating creatures in the NBA.
Michael J. had had just about enough of those cocky Dragons when the dentist entered the room. Judging by my weak “Go, Beavers, Go” chant, my accusations that wolf-boy was traveling, and laughing at the player’s striped tube socks, he knew the gas was doing its job.
As his gloved hands entered my mouth, the song began to play.
** I advise you to click this video and continue to read as it plays**
I closed my eyes and listened to the words:
I am equal to the task
I won't hide behind the mask
What you see is what you'll get from me!
Win in the end
I'm gonna win in the end
Win in the end
I'm gonna win in the end!
My body wanted to break out in some serious dance moves because the catchy synthesized tune served as the perfect motivational soundtrack for my dentist.
Picture it. Poor young boy dreams of dental hygiene, but his dentistry skills are mediocre at best. He struggles through dental school. Maybe he was teased and ridiculed for his sloppy root canal procedure. Maybe the other students said he’d never be good enough to remove a wisdom tooth. Maybe he spent long nights hidden behind a text book about tooth decay and a bottle of Jack Daniels.
Maybe the odds were against him. Maybe his father said he’d never have his own practice. His mother harbored wishes that he’d become an orthodontist instead.
But here he was. He’d persevered. He’d proved the naysayers wrong. He’d followed HIS dream. And his name, yes HIS NAME, was on the front door of a 1,200 square foot rented building in the strip mall next to the Target!
He was literally, but definitely not figuratively, hidden behind a mask. This is who he was. He was going to drill the heck out of that 32-year-old rotten tooth! A measly cavity was no match for him! He was gonna win in the end!
He was gonna win in the end! Yes! He is dentist! Hear him drill!
“You okay?” he asked.
“Blaghhhwhahhsauhha,” I replied enthusiastically with a jaw full of gauze.
His hands were shoved inside my mouth, but I was smiling at him, beaming with pride, as the inspirational lyrics served as our soundtrack.
“I’m all done here. Everything looks good,” he said as the gymnasium of Beaver fans erupted in cheers and applause.
“Triumph!” I thought.
I vowed right then that I’d go home and download “Win in the End”.
But the gas wore off and my mouth hurt and all of the concealer on my chin zit had been wiped away and I remembered how much I hated Teen Wolf and my dentist fussed at me about not flossing and he never once shed a tear or mentioned all of the obstacles that he’d overcome to have the privilege of removing my bad tooth and the dramatically motivational moment was over.
But, for those few moments, as I lay in a faux-leather chair, inebriated on Nitrous Oxide and soaking in the lyrics of encouragement, I can’t deny that something special took place. I was a witness to my DDS’s epiphany-like experience- the moment when he saw all of his hard work and dedication come to fruition.
Farewell, successful conqueror. Until I see you again.
And since I’m still not flossing, I’m sure it will be soon.
PS: If you watch the end scene of Teen Wolf closely, you’ll see a guy in the bleachers with his pants unzipped.
I’m extremely thankful that I did not notice his open fly while I was under the influence of N.O. I may have been traumatized and faced with questions that I could not comprehend. And the rest of my life would be a downward spiral spent searching for the editing guy that worked on the set of Teen Wolf so I could find some sort of closure and ask him, “Why didn’t you catch that? Oh, dear Lord, why?"