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BBHQ Boomer Essays:

A Trip to the Dentist

Our Boomer-In-Charge at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes about boomer memories and current events... from a boomer's perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, some-
times a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.

I actually felt very little pain, and I didn’t hear the much dreaded sound of my roots letting go of the tight grip on my jaw. The dentist had apparently decided on a different approach. “Nurse, let me have the Patriot missile bit, please.” He was going to drill it into submission. Apparently there was not enough tooth left for him to pull it, so he had to drill it out.


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In the category of “be careful what you wish for...,” I was just saying the other day that I would rather spend an afternoon writhing in pain in the dentist’s chair than hear another word about the deficit, tea party, climate change, or “man-made disasters.”

Sure enough, the next day my dentist called to inform me that my lower, right wisdom tooth had to come out.

This surprised me; I thought I had liberated all my wisdom teeth when I was a teenager...... Things were indeed so much simpler then...

That summer in the late 60s I was working in the food service area at the local, public swimming pool. We fixed and filled vending machines and kept the place clean. (Read about it in “The Days of Summers Past.”) There were only a few days when the temperature went over 80 degrees in Cleveland, and this particular day was destined to be a scorcher. I was scheduled to work the 1-9 shift. But I had a 10 o’clock appointment to have a tooth removed. I remember that I had a novocaine injection, but I can still hear the sound of the tooth crackling as it reluctantly gave up its comfortable seat in the rear of my mouth. The sound was worse than the pain. But afterwards, with my mouth swollen and full of bloody gauze, I put on my Variety Vending T-shirt and headed over to the pool. I had work to do.

“When duty whispers low, ‘thou must’; the youth replies: ‘I can.’” (High school poetry... I don’t remember the author.)

Anyway, I was OK as long as I did not have to bend over and didn’t have to talk. It was not worth the effort to explain why I could not talk right... especially when... I could not talk right. So I just nodded my head a lot, and tried to do my job. Weatherman Dick Goddard was right; it was hot as blazes.

Ron Silver, owner of Variety Vending and watchdog of the food service area, was a taskmaster to end all. If you looked the wrong way, he let you know about it. It was not at all unusual to get yelled at half a dozen times a day. But his bark was far worse than his bite. He never fired anybody; the faint-of-heart quit long before he had a chance.

So it didn’t surprise me when Ron yelled at me in spite of my delicate condition. “Thunder,” he barked. (My nickname was “Thunder” – it’s a long story.) “Get over there!” “Thunder; pick up that paper.” I was used to it... I just did my job and kept my mouth shut. I needed the buck-thirty-five an hour I was making. The novocaine was still doing it’s job; I really felt OK.

But that was not good enough for Ron. I remember him calling me over and ordering me to “talk to the customers.” I mumbled something back to him, but he just pointed to “the floor,” and ordered me to get back out there.

So it was especially surprising when he called me over in the middle of a rush and gently told me to take a few minutes off. “Go in the back and wash your hands and face. Sit down and rest for a while.”

Huh?? This was not the fire and brimstone Ron Silver that I knew and feared. It was only when I went into the back and looked in a mirror that I realized there was a small stream of blood trickling out of the corner of my mouth.

Ah, those were the kinder, gentler days of my youth.

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