The Mickey Mouse Club
I won’t tell you the dentist or name the people. I will tell you, my antennae out and trolling, what I saw and heard. I was waiting to have a tooth extraction, the result of a root canal and cap gone wrong. Cap had to be replaced, but tooth had broken off at the gum line. The dentist agreed to eat the cost of extraction, cadaver bone fill, new cap, etc. First step: extraction of tooth broken below the gum line.
I sit in the lobby and wait—dentist is running late. The office manager is breaking in a new employee, explaining bonuses. I hear the words “do’s and don’ts.” I can see them through an opening in the wall, behind which are dental rooms. Suddenly the talk turns to tattoos.
Manager (M.): Oh, my tattoo artist is ____________. We’ve been together for a couple years. We’re working on a full body design. Right now, he’s doing my entire right leg. (She shows the leg to the trainee; I can’t see it.)
Trainee (T.) Wow, that must hurt.
- You know, yeah, a little. Wanna see my little guys? (One at a times, she pulls down the shoulders of her blouse, revealing sayings, “I love my Dad” one of them.)
- That is so cool. (Pulls down her blouse shoulders revealing Mickey and Minnie Mouse.)
- Oh! I have got to get that! I feel that my tattoos reveal the inner me.
- I know, right? My kids say I’m weird.
A nurse emerges from the back.
Nurse (N.): Ewing?
She escorts me to an exam room, the dentist enters. He holds a needle.
Dentist (D.) Got to get you numb. (He injects me, my right eye starts burning, I am temporarily blind, my throat constricts.)
Gene: I’m blind—bwin-bin-b-b-b-.
- The shot cuts off all feeling in the right side of your face.
Gene. My eye is on fire.
Gene. Maybe you should have warned me.
- And get you all upset? You’re fine. Relax, and I’ll give you a few minutes. (He exits.)
Gene: I’m seeing double. That woman in the hall, I see two of her.
- I know, it’s a rough shot.
(N. exits, leaving me alone to wonder who I am, is there a god. D. and N. reenter, D. holding what looks to be a giant pliers.)
- You’re going to feel a little pressure. The tooth is broken into pieces, I gotta pluck them put. (He reaches in my mouth, pulls so hard my head comes away from the headrest.) One down, three to go. (Sees that N.’s uniform top is splattered with blood. My blood. Sorry about that.
- No worries.
And so it goes, three more times, D. chatting me up.
- The wife and kids and I are going to Michigan. “Pure Michigan,” I love that slogan. You know why I love Michigan? It’s the 80s all over again.
- Take me with.
What about the Proud Boys plotting to assassinate the Michigan governor, I think. D. exits.
- Okay, no eating solid food for two days. What? No rinsing until tomorrow. What? Sign these two forms. (I sign. One of the forms reads, “Could cause cardiac arrest or death.” What?
Gene. I can’t drive like this.
- Take your time. (N. exits. I am alone, Karl Malone, on the phone, is that a drone I moan, Jubilation T. Cornpone, sew-sewn, gro……………………….an. N. enters.) How’s the eyesight?
Gene. Double vision is gone.
- Okey dokey, we’ll see you in two months. What?
(N. escorts me to exit, the M. and the T. look over at me, notice my tattoos.)
- See you in two months. You should get a Mickey Mouse.