Little known fact that I began working on my ph.D in Dental Anxiety when I was 5 and spent all summer vacation with ju-ju beads (sp?) in my teeth and ju-ju bead liquid sloshing around and out of my mouth during games of hide-and-seek. In the 60’s the tap water from Cape May’s wooden water pipes tasted like moldy seawater with more than a hint of dead fishiness, so imbibing water wasn’t in the cards. The fridge wouldn’t stay cold enough to keep milk from going sour, so  we drank Pepsi and 7up ALL THE TIME. Occasionally I branched out and drank birch beer and chewed on licorice or red candy dollars. The horror.

Not sure what was in all that dye, but the dye in the tablets our dentist’s office gave out, purportedly to show us what part of our teeth we hadn’t brushed sufficiently likely had sugar in it. A vast conspirarcy, no doubt. None of it made me hyperactive (though I was a phenom at running bases back in the day). It just cost me thousands of dollars in dental bills over the years. Crowns are to me what jewelry is to most women. Bling bling.

After all these years I’m still wrestling with my thesis. I just can’t decide which is worse–an expected visit to the dentist or an unexpected one. Expected ones give one too much time to anticipate the anxiety, but the moment (which in my case happen so often they add up to days rather than moments) I’m obliviously chewing gum or an apricot or cashews or a brownie or fill in the blank and in a blink of an eye or the crack of a tooth something doesn’t quite feel right, I am immediately dreading the walk to the bathroom mirror much less the trip to the dentist and the bill in the mail. Though with an unexpected trip to the dentist the prospect of relief (and a funny, really good dentist who isn’t a sadist like my childhood one in Maryland who would fill huge cavities without numbing me up ever and say “Raise your hand when it hurts too much” and I would and he would ignore me and my tears and writhing and drill, baby, drill) balances the annoyance at having to waste so much of my life in a dentist’s chair. I actually like my dentist. And I don’t drink soda. Not sure which is more surprising to me.

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