So then…she gently adjusts my bib and slowly reclines the plush leather chair, so I can more easily see the ceiling-mounted TV.
Tina, the new hygienist, hands me the remote and recommends a few shows to watch while she cleans my teeth.
We have a lovely time together. She has a light touch, so I barely notice her work while I surf the shows. Occasionally, she asks if certain areas are a little sore or tender – or commiserates that it’s hard to reach those out-of-the-way places with the toothbrush.
She’s quick to dab my mouth if a little water spills out – frequently checks to ensure I’m not in any discomfort — and telepathically anticipates my every need – a cup of water to rinse, an increase in TV volume during the polishing, a sympathetic ear.
We share a laugh or two about the shows – and enjoy some small talk.
Tina is truly a pleasant, thoughtful hygienist. I feel safe and comfortable here with her.
Then the dentist enters.
Tina immediately announces: “Patient has gum erosion in bicuspid 3; exposed root on canine 2, and two cavities in rear molars.”
What’s exposed? What’s eroding?
First of all – “Patient?” What the hell, Tina? We’ve been besties for 45 minutes now – on a first name basis – Darcy and Tina – Tina and Darcy – and now all of a sudden, I’m just an impersonal noun to you? We bonded over the Rachel-Ross relationship fiasco in that vintage Friends episode! I confided my OWN relationship fiasco to you, Tina! We compared artichoke dip recipes! And now – sob – I’m just “Patient” to you?
Second of all, don’t rat me out to the dentist! Those sore and tender moments were PRIVATE between us! He don’t need to know ‘bout none a’ my “gum erosion and exposed root” all up in here! Girl, you trippin! You KNOW he gonna make me deal with that sh*t if you TELL him about it! Keep it on the down low, sister!
Do I go tellin’ him about all your dirty little secrets? No, I do not.
I don’t even know what your secrets are – but I can sure as hell make some up right now if you gon’ play dat way.
(How ‘bout I tell him you don’t change gloves between patients! You steal dental floss! You sneak into the office at night with your boyfriend to get high on nitrous and have hot wild animal sex! in the leather dental chairs! while wearing dental masks!)
Don’t make me get creative, girl!
I shoot her a look of abject loathing for her treachery – mingled with the wounded look of betrayal for our doomed fleeting friendship.
She returns a cool gaze.
The dentist raises his eyebrows expectantly; no doubt wondering about my response to the heinous accusations hurled my way.
I sputter, “Well, that Tina’s a big fat Tattle Tale, Dr. Porter. I wouldn’t trust a word she says.”
He laughs good-naturedly and rolls his chair over for a closer look.
He confirms her claims and asks me to book a follow-up appointment (to deal with all the apparent calamities occurring in my mouth).
I delicately tiptoe over to pick up my purse, avoiding eye contact with my former bestie – hating myself for realizing I’ll request her for my next cleaning since she’s so gentle and skilled – and knowing in my heart that she’ll sell me out at the drop of a hat. Damn you, Tina — damn you.
— Darcy Perdu
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(Have you ever bonded with someone, only to be surprised when they act all official? Did the friendly ticket taker refuse to let you take your own food into the movies? Did the cable guy rat you out for “sharing” your neighbor’s cable wires? Did the giggling child who secretly shared a snack with you suddenly announce to everyone that you ate 5 cookies before supper? Share your tales of betrayal and woe, my friends. Add your funny dental stories too. We shall plan our vengeance together!)