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February 24th, 2006

I’ve been talking to my mother again. She called tonight.

Most of our conversations fall down some rabbit hole or other. Odds are pretty good that I’ll be crazy after five minutes. The only variable is the reason.

Tonight, it was dental care. My mother has her own set of rules, when it comes to dentistry. Every time we discuss this, she laments having to give up visiting Doc Lueck, who retired this year.

Doc was approximately 90. The fact that he had to retire for medical reasons surprised no one but my mother.

Now, Mom has to go to Dr. Someone-else. And they found a cavity. She admitted that she knew there was “a rough spot” but didn’t tell them. She wanted them to be able to find it.

Since mom doesn’t believe in flossing or teeth cleaning, but does believe that Fluoride toothpaste is no match for warm water and occasional baking soda, it has been many years since she’s had a full set of teeth. Finding a cavity in what’s left isn’t exactly like a game of ‘Where’s Waldo.’

But Mom secretly suspects that if she doesn’t tell the dentist, he won’t notice the problem. Instead, they found the cavity and set up an appointment for a month from now.

She said, “I suppose they’ll want to freeze my mouth…”

I said, “Novocaine?? Hell, yes they ‘freeze your mouth.’ Take the shot.”

She said, “Well, I never needed it…”

I said, “Then do it for the dentist’s sake. He probably doesn’t want to cause his patients pain.”

She said, “Well, it’s not that bad. They hit my goooooms once in a while. And it bleeds a bit. But it always stops…”

I now have my head between my knees. I should fix Mom up with the Dentist we had when we lived in Milwaukee. We went there because he was somebody’s uncle. His office was like a 50’s snapshot.

Retro cool if you’re talking about a soda shop, but not cool if you need dental care.

Our nickname for him was “The Dachau Dentist.” Every visit was like reliving the ‘Is it safe?’ scene from “Marathon Man.” But he was old, and we were raised to respect out elders (and avoid confrontation at all costs) and figured that he would retire soon, or perhaps die, and then we wouldn’t have to feel guilty for ditching him.

Of course, having Doc Lueck as an example, I should have seen the faulty logic.

I explain to my mother that the rest of the world wants Novocaine when they get a filling. Because IT HURTS. The only people in the world not getting the shot are my mother and James Frey, and one of them is lying.

And I point out that, back when I was a kid and she was paying the dental bills, I kind of would have liked some too, instead of going cold turkey because she told me I didn’t need Novocaine.

She said, “Oh. Well. At least I didn’t hurt you.”

The dentist, on the other hand…