November 2, 2010
When I visited our family dentist yesterday I thought it was a Halloween trick when he solemnly declared: "I am afraid it is a root canal."
Root canals must be performed in two to three sessions. I had to cancel my pilates as further punishment and was recommended to the endodontist, who was a compatriot of mine. It is "like pulling teeth" to get directions in my father's language!
But I had planned ahead. I had borrowed my husband's Ipod to listen to music and relax. No sooner did I turn Eminem on that I was tripping with my mouth open to injections and drills. Perhaps the volume was too loud because the Lebanese doctor attempted a "can you lower the volume?" However, electronically challenged that I am, I couldn't. My husband hadn't showed me how to control the volume!
I then began to remember the talented dentist who had managed to finally put me at ease in a dental chair. My favorite cousin. He had told me to relax as he placed his own walkman to my ears, soothing reggae and catchy rap tunes lulling me. It was Boston, perhaps 1993 or 1994, at the Harvard Dental School. I was his "guinea pig" and received treatments for free. My boyfriend turned husband also sat in that chair.
I was smiling now. The Lebanese dentist asked me if all was ok and to please keep my mouth wide open. I had remembered how my cousin was extracting my husband's wisdom tooth and had forgotten to administer an anesthetic. "Shhhh! Don't mention it or they will fail me on this exam", he begged my future husband.
My cousin and I got to spend a lot of time together in Boston, either partying or studying. He often teased me about my "Muslim American Princess" lifestyle as I used to pick him up at his student flat with two honks on the BMW, like Ben Affleck picked Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. If I picked him up from the Harvard Medical School where he took his anatomy classes, he would bring a strange smell into the car. We would go study at MIT or BU (for him to spot pretty girls) or at each others' homes. He would lay down with nonchalence on the carpeted floor, a pencil behind his ear and memorize extremely complex biology and chemestry equations, while I sat diligently at a table, writing interminable history papers.
He also is a good cook like the rest of his family and he would actually make a Persian stew and invite friends over. I once took a rather snobby classmate with me to his house. As a good host, he offered her something to drink. She requested a Perrier. "I don't have Perrier" he said, considering this was a bachelor pad. "Want some orange juice?" "Is it fresh?" She ventured. "Yes it is" he lied and "would you like some koon with it?" He asked with a straight face. "What is a koon?" Asked the fussy guest. (I am afraid only farsi speakers will understand the humor in this dialogue).
This time I had to control myself not to laugh as I sat miles and years away from Boston. I stared at the dental light above my mouth and imagined my cousin, now a successful endodontist performing root canals day in day out. He is a talented young man. Not only was he a good student, he is also very athletic: skiing, tennis, swimming, climbing, hiking, squash. He is the one who taught me how to ride a two wheeler bike when I visited him in Communist China.
These blogger memories jammed with Eminem lyrics made the root canal session slightly easier.