“I don’t mind biting,” Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed in "Wild"
I don’t know if biting is a learned or inherent behavior; I only
know that in my case, this behavior stemmed from being the
youngest among older cousins, mostly male. Biting was a last resort, a
point of no return, when frustration against being teased finally boiled
over. A good bite was guaranteed to end the tormenting; the
ensuing uproar would usually cause attention, and my tormentor
would be punished. I would be admonished but that would be all.
When I was about eight years old, my pony kept biting me, for
no good reason. Someone told me to bite him back. So I did. I can
still taste the thick winter fur on his neck. He ran away from me, but if
truth be told, he never did chomp on me again. He was that
My Chihuahua snaps at people/dogs/bicycles/skateboards, but if
he connects, his bite is infinitely more terrifying because he has no
teeth. His bite is an experience that is ingrained in the senses forever;
he strikes lightning-fast and the accompanying Cujo-like snarl lends a
surreal element to his attack. He mashes whatever piece of his prey
he connects with, back and forth, back and forth. This maneuver,
then, must be the reason why the most prosperous prostitutes in
Waikiki have no teeth!
However, I thought - unless I want to join them, I'd better take
care of my teeth. Hence the much-dreaded, long-postponed, fearful
trip to the dentist. Now I know how a dog feels when it is about to go
to the vet. I sat on the edge of the chair in the waiting room until a
smiling angel of death beckoned me inside. I dragged my feet as if on
my way to the gallows.
As I was being eased into the waterboarding position, I
mentioned that the sign on the door advertised “painless” dentistry.
When I reminded the dental hygienist about this fact, she laughed.
“I don’t know why they say that,” was what she responded with,
as she gathered her instruments. I felt like Dustin Hoffman in
“Marathon Man.” The torture was about to begin.
It started with a merciless scraping that was like fingernails on
a chalkboard. I could feel it clear into my skull; I think it was reaching
that deeply. Then the waterboarding commenced. I can’t stand water
in my face; I live on an island but I can’t swim. If someone were really
to try and waterboard me, I would offer up every secret I knew and the
secrets of others, too, as many as I could remember. After the
waterboarding, a powerful suction tool came into play, and that
almost took out my tongue. I have been told that I could suck a tennis
ball through a garden hose, but my talent is obviously nothing
compared to this new age vacuum apparatus.
“This is my favorite part,” the hygienist said, cheerfully.
“Yunh, yunh,” I replied. I was trying to look at my tongue in
the mirror. Surely part of it was missing. Well, too bad for the secrets
then. She doesn’t know what she missed.
She had an accomplice now, who was prepared to take notes.
“I’m going to poke you in your gums, now, and see if there is
any gum disease,” she stated. I stared up at her, unbelieving. What the
hell? Poke? Stab, prick, stick, puncture, pierce, gouge, run through,
etc. – all these terms came to mind.
“Let me know if it hurts,” she said, and I thought I heard her
“Yunh, yunh!” And that was my response to the first violation
of my gums. There were many more thrusts and parries.
Then there was the floss. I have a theory about floss. My
husband has always used it and now his teeth are plummeting from
his mouth like paratroopers. He has something called a bridge in his
mouth now (I have never seen it), probably in part because his electric
toothbrush is foaming with bacteria. He has never replaced the head
on it in fifteen years. More than once, I have observed fly fecal
material on it and pointed this out. He said, no worries, that all comes
off when he brushes. Plus, he leaves it uncovered near the toilet; now
the toothbrush is covered with E coli, too. So maybe the floss is not to
blame after all. I still have an aversion to it. Floss belongs on swimsuit
However, the hygienist apparently does, religiously, believe in
floss. I ended up with a scarlet piece of floss hanging around my
neck. Battle scars. I think that floss had serrated edges, you could
have cut meat with it.
In fact, she did!
They told me to come back in three months. They asked me if I
wanted to make an appointment. They saw me heading toward the
door; I waved them away. I had planned on going shopping. Now,
with my makeup smeared with blood and tears, the only place I could
go was home. I couldn't even go to the beach because I was afraid the
sharks would smell the floss and the blood, and unable to control their
curiosity, would make their way onto the sand.
All in all, the visit went better than at other facilities. Really. I
promised the hygienist that I would write a story about my experience
and drop a copy off. I'm going to deliver it tomorrow. And run like
hell! They will see me again, but in three months, idk...
Speaking of hell, I am a devout (most of the time) Catholic. I
don't think I have to go to confession for a long time because of the
suffering in the chair. I paid for my sins, at least for last week's sins.
And if it hadn't been for the vacuum that sucked up my tongue, I
would indeed have made a full confession; think of all the secrets I
would have spilled!