14 May 2013

by jkatejohnston

Dear Max,

Let’s review, shall we? I left a job I loved. Well, liked. Most of the time. And where I got to work on murder cases and see my darling lawyer pals every day. And I took a job I don’t mind, but I work on cases where the daycare provider got cited for giving the kids spicy Cheetos. Mind you, Cheetos are just fine, it’s the spice we hand out tickets for. As I recall, the package says “Dangerously Cheesy” but nothing about “Dangerously Spicy.”

And what started the whole thing was the big filling crumbled out of my #18 molar, and I knew I needed a crown and between not having insurance and making less money, it just seemed like it was time for a change.

So yesterday I was at my new dentist’s from 7:45 to 12:10 getting prepped for a crown on my number #18 molar which the insurance that I changed my while life to get will not pay for because I just got a crown on this molar a few months ago. (Attentive readers will recall the botched crown that caused me to change dentists.)

So, $950 and the old familiar guilt and depression. It really is physical. My arms and legs felt heavy, sort of like that lead apron they put over you for the X-ray, only I like the lead apron. I find it comforting. Heaviness from the inside is different.

I tried to scold myself into some sense of proportion. I counted my blessings on my fingers.

1.  Enzo is healthy

2.  And cheerful

3.  Teresa and I are healthy

4.  And not that bitchy

5.  My parents and sisters are healthy

6.  We can afford this even if we don’t like it

7.  If it weren’t for my teeth I wouldn’t have my job, and I need it for reasons other than teeth. Like retirement and a steady paycheck.

8.  I really have gotten a lot of writing out of my teeth over the years. One of the first things I wrote that I liked was about getting a crown and how I felt sure that a little piece of chicken had floated over there at the last second and somehow lodged itself under the crown and now it was stuck there forever, my little piece of chicken.

I wish I’d kept more of the stuff I wrote in college. All I kept for sure are the papers I wrote for Alan Stephens with his comments in pencil. And speaking of the awful responsibility of teachers, he’s been dead for about five years and just thinking about some of the comments he wrote on the bad papers still sends me into a full-body cringe. The good comments you can write on my tombstone.

But back to the dentist.  I wanted to write that as the dentist gave me the Novocain shot I was thinking “Just a spoonful of boogers helps the medicine go down,” and that I had to work hard to keep from smiling. And that would have been nice. But the truth is he gave me the Novocain and I just sat there with my mouth straining open, bored and miserable and still a little scared after all these years, and then it was over.

For the record, this was my seventh trip to the dentist this year, counting the endodontist. Periodonist, here I come!


I’m reading “Are You Somebody” by Nuala O’Faolain, and one of the things she writes about is how screwed beyond screwed women were in contraception-free Ireland in the 50s. All those anti-abortion, anti-contraception Republicans should be locked in a room with twelve children. They’d be begging for mercy in ten minutes.

And now seems as good a time as any to remember with grateful pride all those annoying women’s libbers who made my present circumstances possible. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I kiss your tiny feet.