A pink taxi

A pink taxi

November 2, 2010

Root Canals

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.


  1. This was a great entry. The story about your husband being the exam tool and his tooth extraction is absolutely hilarious. I have heard it 100 times and I can still hear it 100 more. The best, though, is when your husband tells it and you can still see he has post traumatic stress disorder from the pain he suffered.

    But I have to say that I am extremely impressed with your endurance. You were trick or treating along with the rest of us parents a few hours later! A colleague of mine at work had to take two days off to deal with the pain...


  2. I just read this blog to my boys and they are laughing uncontrollably. They know the cousin you are talking about well and have heard many stories about us growing up together.

    For example, this smart cousin came to visit one Thanksgiving. My father had just bought me my dream car, a Jeep Wrangler. This smart cousin asked if we could go for a ride to the beach and he insisted on driving. After much argument, I surrendered my keys and he drove his sister and I to the beach. His next question was if the 4WD on the car works? I told him that it is a brand new car but I have not gone 4 wheeling with it. He then decided to try it out on the public beach in LJ (FYI, it is against the law to drive on the beach in CA). Of course no one was on the beach because they were all at home feasting on turkey. He decided to drive along the shore and before we knew it we were stuck in the sand. We had no cell phones in those days and were unable to find anyone to help us get the car out. Meanwhile the tide was rising and I was envisioning my new car floating away into the Pacific Ocean. Long story short....we got help and got the car out.

    Or how about the time, this smart cousin and my beloved brother decided to go rock climbing. It happened to be the morning of my engagement party. My mom reminded them about what time they needed to be home in order to get ready for the party. Well....just about the time the last guest was leaving the party, who shows up??? Yes, he had lost track of time which caused him and my brother to miss my engagement party.

    I can go on and on and on......

  3. So this posting has become one of Bash the Cousin.com!!
    I remember our nephew in Utah living with his grandparents,studying for his MCat or whatever you call it.His grandfather being a prominent physician, badly wanted a grandchild to follow in his footsteps.He was exerting moral pressure on the young man,until I convinced him to accept the fact that a successful dentist from a top university is better than an average MD from an average university.
    As to his follies,I can remeber many,but will mention a few.When we visited him in Arizona,he insisted that we take his brand new-leased Land Rover off road.That was a big mistake and the most terrifying experience in my life,where the terraine is rocky and dangerous.I guess I owe my disc operation a few years later to his insane driving techniques. Another time,we were deep asleep in France,when the phone rings.Our dear nephew was calling from the West Coast to ask whether I would ship my Jeep Wrangler to him,since it has become old after 2 years.Mind you Jeeps are available by the thousands in the US of A!
    Having joined the cousin bashing,I would like to mention that he is on of my favorite nephews,whom I am so proud of his achievements and accomplishments.

  4. Hahaha! Can't stop laughing! This blog entry provided the required comic relied to my ever stressful day! I can go on and on about the bullying we suffered as young cousins at the hands of our dear eldest cousin. However, I will always remember that he and Dai Cyrus were the first of the Mehras to meet my beautiful wife in San Fran a few days before I proposed to her.

  5. How about the time I visited my dear nephew in Arizona and planned to meet him for dinner. He picked us up in his new, cannery yellow, Porsche, two seater. He stuffed the 5'8" claustrophobic /roller coaster hater into the back "space" and the 6'2" joy rider, in the front, jumped into the driver's seat and took off in a parking lot at 80 miles per hour. I screamed and pleaded with him for twenty minutes while he screeched down a narrow, zig zag, frontage road at, I am not exaggerating, 100 miles per hour. Never have I felt so out of control and harassed in my life and till this day, thanks Nader, I still get the eggi-viggis when I see a Porsche! There is definatly something about Nader and cars!