Thursday, May 7, 2009
I don't go to the dentist as often as I should. In fact, the last time I went to the dentist, it was the one year anniversary of 9-11. I got my first filling that day as well. The dentist gave me a shot of novocaine, and went to work doing his thing. "Spencer." he said not long after he had begun, "You're making faces at me. Are you feeling too much pain?" I didn't understand the question. Wasn't this supposed to hurt? "How much pain am I supposed to be feeling?" I asked with a suction device impediment. "None." The dentist said. "Well," I said, "Then I'm feeling too much pain". So he gave me a couple of more shots of novocaine, and I got my first filling. 9-11-02 was an emotional day for me for several reasons.
Well, I just got back around to seeing the dentist again, and it was another filling. Luckily, my new dentist didn't try to hold a conversation with my while he was mutilating my mouth, and he was kind enough to take me seriously when I asked for the largest dose of novocaine allowed by law. "Give me an amount of novocaine that would make another dentist--if they were in the room right now with us--arch their eyebrow at you in concern." I requested, and he obliged.
I forgot how unfun the dentist's office was. The anxiety didn't hit me until I sat down in the chair. Everyone was cheery and helpful, but sitting in the chair reminded me of the truth of what would soon be occurring. A man you have never met before in your life is going to drill your teeth. This nice woman, she's going to stick a needle in your gums. It was really quite fantastic, and I laughed at myself and the nervousness I was feeling. We have these archetypal fears passed down into our genes from our ancestors. Snakes, darkness, fire. All of these things resonate deeply in our beings. They are things to be feared, respected, wielded with care. I can't help but think that millions of years from now, there will be some kind of dentist archetype at work in our collective consciousness. Those needles. Those blue gloves. That mask. That labcoat.
There is definitely something deeply disturbing about the smell of burning teeth.
The archetype is already under construction: