My afternoon wasn't entirely unpleasant. Flowered Smock is a woman I've known for years. She's known my kids since they were little, and she always asks about them. I enjoy looking at the artwork she puts up on the wall, pictures drawn in the waiting room by her young patients. And I look forward to chatting with Dressed in White, who is my age. We always compare notes about our kids. Since we see each other just about every six months, there's always some catching up to do.
It was in some ways, a peaceful afternoon. All I had to do was lie back in a comfy chair and chat with these two pleasant women I've known for a couple of decades. The problem was that, in between the pleasantries, they insisted on scraping at my sensitive gums, putting things in my mouth that made me gag, and poking at my teeth with sharp instruments. "So what's your daughter doing now?" White Lab Coat would ask nicely, as if she didn't have a metal instrument in my mouth and as if there was some way I could possible answer her without first spitting out a gallon of saliva. Both women always act like I'm there for a cup of coffee, but I find it kind of hard to ignore the fact that they are poking at my teeth and staring inside my mouth.
I hate the sterile white room, the light glaring in my eyes, and the sound of a drill, even if it's being used several rooms away. Even though I try to act cheerful as I leave, muttering how nice it feels to have my teeth clean, the reality is that I always breathe a sigh of relief as I pull open the heavy door and walk out into the afternoon sunshine. It feels good to know I don't have to return until March.