Monday, April 03, 2006

A complete wash

The moment of awareness, the realization; it came to me during an afternoon out at a local mexican restaurant. My companions, completely unaware, chewed onwards, solely mindful of the gustatory fireworks display arrayed before them on thick ceramic dishes. These dishes are of a type one might find in any ethnic eatery, and are placed upon woven placemats, as much for the integrity of the table as for thermal insulation of the waitresses hands. As the vinyl covered bench and the plastic, diamond flag streamers indicate, this is neither an expensive nor luxurious establishment. This business is based purely on the movement of two things; your money, and cheap, heavily seasoned, highly dairy oriented, foodstuffs, of a decidedly hispanic bent. All of these observations were meandering their way through my synapses the moment directly before, and oddly enough during, my epiphany. Upon a single moment in time, I was stricken with the knowledge of one sure thing, that, deny it as I might, could be no less true and no less certain than gravity or the sun setting in the west. I was about to embark on an adventure that I had hoped to avoid all my life. I would soon meet the fate of many before me, for I had an upcoming appointment with, the dentist.

Thankfully, this realization didn't come at the cost of my pain threshhold. I was perhaps mid-way through an over-sized meal, when, I felt in my mouth an altogether inedible foreign object. It was more of a dawning understanding; not unlike waking up and realizing that you dreamt getting up on time and it's ten minutes till you have to be at work. There is a period of disorientation; this can't be happening, and then anxiety coupled with acceptance; a plan of action is set before you. Steps materialize full formed and fleshed, wearing pale green bibs, goggles, and white plastic gloves. I continued to eat, having surreptitiously removed the article that was once an integral portion of a lower manbibular protrusion. And upon finishing, excused myself to the restroom, whereupon I said farewell forever to the traitorous portion of tooth in a singularly unceremonial manner; I dropped it carelessly and without regret into the over flowing waste-paper receptacle.

It wasn’t until later that following week that I was able to arrange for a visit to a local dentist office. Having never before had to procure the services of a member of the dental practice, I enlisted the assistance of work associates and friends to suggest a suitable port towards which to plot this maiden voyage. After many referrals and suggestions it came down to the one that not only accepted my insurance, but could see a new patient within a month. After speaking with the receptionist/secretary for the office, and hearing the unmistakable lilt of an Hispanic American, I felt a certain sense of completion. I’m not sure exactly why, but since this whole experience had started out with a dish of Hispanic styled food, it seemed fitting for it to end with a visit to a business owned and operated by a Hispanic doctor.

The day arrived, as many do, with the waking up and going to work routine that I’ve come to affectionately term, “the forward stumble”. I have an unreasonably high turn around time between physical wakefulness and cognitive consciousness. I may be able to stand, walk, perform simple tasks; i.e. take a shower, get dressed, and even form coherent sentences, but I assure you, at no point between getting up, and at least an hour from that time, do I have any conscious awareness of my state of being, let alone my surroundings. So on this propitious day, whereupon I was to commit myself to the first leg of my journey, I made no preparations whatsoever to make myself more presentable to the oral hygiene Nazi that awaited me.

Upon setting off from work to meet my scheduled fate, I took for granted the area I was trekking through afoot. I was fully aware of the address and its environs; it just somehow didn’t occur to me what this meant to me as a pedestrian. The region in question is that of the 5th street market shopping center. This touted downtown retreat for all things brand name, is often the tromping grounds of the social elite, and/or those willing to torture themselves with “window shopping”. My foray through this complex of wanton consumerism led me to a number of other realizations, altogether distinct and quite different from the one in relation to my oral health. I noted during my route as it passed through the 5th Street Public Market, that “rules of the road” changed somewhat. Motorists seemed to have a less than healthy respect for yours truly; healthy for me that is. I felt a certain disquiet about them. A maddened sense of drive or a fever if you will. The passion of the rabid consumer on a mission to procure the newest brand-labeled bauble from the most fashionable and expensive boutique within driving distance for an Eddie Bauer SUV puking copious amounts of sadly unfulfilled fossil fuels. And I was an anomaly to them, one that they would rather ignore. A pedestrian. A man on a mission quite different from their own. Someone who, while they had money to spend, would prefer to spend it on something more, or less in their eyes, than this place had to offer. Someone, un-American.

I survived my traipse through this heathens den of chintz and cookie-cutter clothing outlets, and was able to arrive in one piece to the establishment wherein my fate lay in the hands of someone I quite hoped wasn’t a closet sadist. First entry into the office revealed to me three things immediately. The smell was not that of a normal doctor’s office. There was tang of mint and eucalyptus in the air. There was a hanging clock that operated by old fashioned means; a pendulum swings to and fro actuating gears upon each pass thereby turning the hands in an orderly, and timely, fashion. This gave the office a personal and home-like appearance, that assuaged the anxiety one feels upon entry into the variety of practice this room represented. The third and most prominent thing I noticed in reference to the décor/make-up of the room was the distinct lack of waiting clientele. The average doctor’s office will contain anywhere from 3-10 seemingly desperate individuals, ranging in age from 4-70 displaying symptoms that can only be described as anti-social in nature. This, thankfully, was not the case here. After a short introduction to my case and appointment the receptionist sat me down with paperwork. Finally, familiar territory.

To be continued


At 8:14 AM, Blogger sanourra said...

I'm still (not so) patiently awaiting the continuation here...

Or are you too busy these days? *wink*


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