It's a warm waiting room filled with obscure magazines, filtered water and a fake fireplace. It's reclined, cushy seating and soft rock playing in the background. It's the powerful taste of gritty cinnamon encasing each tooth and tickling your tongue. It's rinsing, re-rinsing and suctioning through a tube. It's flossing and scraping. It's welcoming first-name-basis greetings from the friendly receptionist. It's being punctually escorted into a sterile examining room that smells like Lysol and spearmint gum. It's leaving 45 minutes later with a goody bag, an appointment for six months later, and a gentle scolding to use the Waterpik you invested in after the last visit.
It's going to the dentist...and for me, it's one of life's little perks.
Am I mad? Masochistic? Just plain eccentric? I don't believe I'm any of those things. True, I'm lucky -- I've never had a cavity, a root canal, or a painful experience in my dentist's chair. True, I find dental hygienists to be among the most genuinely perky and pleasant people I know (especially considering they spend eight hours a day inside human mouths). True, my dentist has salt and pepper hair, twinkly blue eyes, a charming sense of humor, and Listerine clean breath that when mixed with his cologne makes you feel a little heady without actually having to go under with nitrous oxide. True, the photographs that line the walls of the waiting room and capture wide-mouthed smiles from exotic places - Ethiopia, Senegal, Nicaragua - a living scrapbook of third world pro bono dentistry work make the twinkly blue eyes even more compelling. True, I get some sense of satisfaction out of having him tell me that I have impeccable oral hygiene and that he can tell I've been flossing, when truthfully I only floss once every six months (the night before my appointment) and just 48 hours before sitting in his chair for an examination I enjoyed two glasses of staining red wine, and six hours prior to the cleaning consumed two cups of coffee. True, I go faithfully every six months for the cleaning, the conversation, and the delicious homemade banana bread they send customers home with in addition to a new toothbrush.
Today I experienced high-quality customer service. Today I took my mouth to the spa and left feeling clean, tingly and validated. Today, my insurance picked up the tab for "preventative care" that felt better than an out-of-pocket pedicure. Today, I blushed as my canines and incisors received compliments. I reclined, relaxed and unwound in my dentist's chair.
Some girls need grand gestures - rare gems or beds of roses. Not me. Polishing and pleasantries from polite would-be strangers that have become bi-annual friends. That's it. And an invitation to sit in the chair every six months to be showered with courtesies and cinnamon paste.
And in the meantime, in between visits, on the days when the skies are cloudy, I can't find a pair of matching socks, I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, feel fat in my favorite pair of jeans, or spy another stray, stubborn gray hair sprouting from my scalp, I will brush, floss and be thankful that my teeth haven't betrayed me.