[Found a new dentist. After my teeth were radiated in all directions and a tip of a pen took photographs of each tooth.]

Hygienist: Wow, you weren’t kidding when you said you have TMJ. Did you hear that crack?

Me: Yes, it happens all the time.

Hygienist: Have you been particularly stressed over the past years?

Me (staring at the fluorescents on the ceiling trying to formulate, anything): Yes, I probably have been a bit stressed over these years (said as if I had to think about it, as if maybe one time I bought the wrong detergent; see “Curry.”)

Hygienist: The clenchin’ (every gerund is such, I thought she said “Clinton”) is wearing away your back teeth and fillin’s, it’s the clenchin’ that’s recedin’ those gums.

[Enter actual Dentist.]

Dentist (looking in mouth): Wow, she needs a mouth guard. We should send her to an ortho consult for gum grafting. (Looks to me.) We will be discussing your long-term care, that’s why we’re talking over you.

Me: Yeah (awkward chuckle), I’m right here you know.

Dentist (nervous laughter): We can make you a mouth guard for under 500 dollars and the grafting usually runs in the thousands. I mean, this can be down the road.

Me: I’m not going down that road. I am not even close to a circumstance in which I can afford that. I had a mouth guard (played field hockey for years) that another dentist made me on the cheap; it never stopped the clenching. Listen, I just got dental insurance and I just want to do things covered and affordable. She suggested an over-the-counter one that is new and improved. I’ll purchase that.

Hygienist: Yeah, you never know, you could find a rich husband!

Me: (Dentist is poking and prodding in my mouth and I can’t speak to this garbage she just spat out. I make some type of gutteral sound, which surely she took as agreement. By the time the dentist was out of my mouth, they had moved on to speaking about me in the third person again so I couldn’t recant my misperceived groan.)

So there I was, verbally kidnapped by the dentist’s scraping tools, mentally clenching, while the hygienist looks at my ring finger and says she knows my son comes to the same dentist, too. Has an appointment coming up!  I watched her leap to the same volcanic conclusion everyone seems to make and take: that I’m alone, not only alone, but wanting some rich husband. Oh, I must be home pining for Him to come along and spend his hard-earned money on my gums.

What the fuck?

It’s about love people, married or not. Doesn’t anyone get that? I just want my teeth cleaned.


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