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Friday, March 11, 2011

Technology Makes My Teeth Hurt

So, I'm a little tooth-crazy these days.

On Thursday, I blogged about my vet's fluoride-guilted "suggestion" that I brush my dogs' teeth with, remember with me now, chicken-flavored toothpaste. Today, I'm going to blog about my teeth.

Sort of.

Yesterday, I got ambushed. By someone who is after my teeth. It's not some rabid incarnation of the Tooth Fairy. Oh, no. Far more sinister than that, and, truth be told, he's not really after my teeth-- he's after my money.

Of course, it's the dentist.

And how did he ambush me, you might be asking yourself?

His office left me a voicemail.

Okay, that's cool. Most normal medical/dental practices to that when trying to reel in unsuspecting prey for their follow-up appointments.

There was more binging and bonging from my Dingleberry not moments later. A text message.

From my... dentist?

"You are due for your routine checkup," it said, and then, confusingly, it said, "DO NOT REPLY."

Wait-- I thought you wanted my money.

Then, the Dingleberry device bonged again. An email.

"What the dick?" I said out loud.

"The doctor (oh, really?) has reviewed your chart and it's time for you to come in for your professional dental cleaning and exam. Please click on the "Schedule an Appointment" button above to request an appointment, or call."

But don't text, obvs.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I'm not sure I want my dentist's office communicating with me, using every sort of media available. If the sonofabitch Friend Requests me, I think I'm going to lose it. I mean, really? Get away. Scoot.

While I, like a good Jewish boy, have always been essentially in love with my physicians, I have never had a positive relationship with dentists. The first dentist I ever knew was our next-door neighbor growing up. Dr. Porter. He looked just like it sounds like he'd look.

Approximately 5'1", Dr. Porter had hairy arms and ears, chunky black glasses that would look awesome on some skinny hipster d-bag and he plodded along the sidewalk of our lives wearing an ancient pair of Florsheims that looked as if they had been fired upon several times with a .38 revolver.

Speed holes? If that's what they were, they didn't work. The man moved at the speed of butter.

One Halloween, many moons ago, my sister and I went Trick-or-Treating. We arrived at Dr. Porter's house excited and giddy-- it was the first house we'd hit that night, it being right next to ours and all. He opened the door looking like Jabba the Hut in a plaid work shirt. He looked at us and we looked at us and he screamed,


And that is what we did.

Dr. Porter was a legend in our neighborhood. Though he died in 1987 (his was the first funeral I ever attended-- in a plaid shirt, in his honor) my family still tells stories about him.

"Remember when Dr. Porter plowed his car straight into a snow-bank?"

"What about the time he was on the ladder trying to get that raccoon out of the tree and he fell off the ladder into the bushes?"

"Remember how he used to barge into the house to go through our Sunday paper?"

Yeah, he used to do that. Too cheap to purchase his own subscription to "The Philadelphia Inquirer," Dr. Porter would let himself into our house, using a key my parents had given to him, ostensibly for emergencies. Without a word, as if in some sit-com, he would come into the dining room, while my sisters and I were making our way through another bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and he would ransack our Sunday paper, rip out some coupons for Geritol or whatever, and leave. Like a tornado wearing nasty shoes.

Not one for aesthetics, his dentist's office looked like a garage. My mother would never permit her children (or herself) to be, um, serviced there, but my father, always able to be courted by a bargain basement offer, had five teeth extracted by Dr. Porter.

"He actually put his fuckin' knee up against my chest," my father reported. Anybody else would have sued. My father thought it was funny. After all, that's probably how all the dentists roll in Israel.

It's funny to think about how much things have changed since Dr. Porter heart attacked his way out of this world 24 years ago. The thought of him text-messaging a patient to remind them about an appointment makes me want to laugh, just like picturing him falling off that ladder in his backyard. I laughed at that, back when I was six, because, amazingly-- the mean old sonofabitch was just fine.

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