Last Friday I was languishing at my local dentist’s rocking with pain and massaging a cheek, which would not have been out of place in a XVIII’s freak show.
Picture a woman with a face half normal, half resembling a rugby ball, eyes glassy with terror: what will the damage be like?
Not to my oral cavity, mind, but rather to my depleted bank balance.
What will the dentist charge me for restoring me to good, ruddy health? Will I be able to pay for food, drink and rent after this brief dental encounter?
Absorbed as I was in such mundane feelings, I had not seen the ethereal receptionist approach me.
“Hi-ya. Can I get you anything? A glass of water?” this slight, soft spoken woman asked. I shook my head, but not too much, as I was too busy feeling the pain in my mouth, torn between the desire of relief from the pain and the pain of being relieved of my annual savings forthwith (I have no dental insurance).
Next I noticed the receptionist had actually brought me a glass of lukewarm water and was offering me the plastic cup in a manner worthy of an ancient Greek prophetess, gracefully passing on the latest message from Zeus to mere mortals.
“What’s your New Year’s resolution?” this throw-back from Delphi asked, while I gingerly sipped water.
I must have produced a very ungracious stare, because the poor woman beat a graceful but hasty retreat.
Four days later and 12 antibiotic capsules to my credit, I feel well enough to be less truculent, so here’s my answer to the well-meaning, polite, sympathetic receptionist at my dentist’s.
I am sorry I might have given you frostbites just by looking at you last Friday, when you so kindly tried to take my mind off my pain.
Just as well that you were not having tea, or I would have turned the milk sour too, just with my gaze. I am sorry I looked like someone after a session on the rack at the Tower of London, I am sure I was not a pretty sight rocking on that chair. I feel better now, so let me reply to your question: NO, I do not have New Year’s resolution.
1) I do not believe in sudden, extreme changes. Bad habits are hard enough to break, so why would I put myself through the extra bother of changing while it is dark, grim and cold? I believe in accepting myself.
2) I have noticed that most NY resolutions pertain to weigh loss. ‘Weigh Loss’ does not even begin to cover the matter, it sounds like you achieve a svelte figure by chance, by accident. If you want to talk to me about such enterprises, label them properly ‘weight demolishing’ ‘fat destruction’, for instance. Even if you call a spade a space, I am not likely to join the debate: taking exercise is not something I relish. I do it to keep myself reasonably healthy, but weight loss is NOT a fit topic of conversation for me. If your NY res is about something else, I will be receptive. Try me next time I visit your honourable establishment.
3) Driven as one can be, NOBODY, I repeat nobody visiting the dentist in my predicament could have the strength or the presence of mind to chat about resolutions. Did you notice it took me a good five minutes to fill in the form you handled me? That’s because I had to concentrate hard to remember basic things such as my name, my age, my gender or other basic personal info you request before I get to see the dentist.
So, here I am, a difficult customer, perhaps, but at least I am straight with you. Which is more that can be said for my tooth, the source of my pain.
I shall soon see you. You will recognise me, I am sure: I am the one who will arrive with a sackful of cash to settle the bill.
We can exchange pleasantries then, if you like!