My Secret Fantasy LifeTimothy Bradford
Cheryl, the dental assistant, welcomes me, is real nice, makes me feel right at home. She wears scrubs, latex gloves, a blue paper mask and clear plastic eye protection. She asks about problem areas, and when she has me down, my mouth wide open and a large dental pick scraping the grooves on some sensitive tooth in the back, she asks if I've been to the State Fair yet. I nearly gag answering with my tongue trying to lie down, be polite, not follow her work all over my mouth like a needy dog. So I take to grunting. She seems to like it, responds by asking more questions, increasing the pressure and speed of the dental pick until it begins to nick at my gums here and there. Behind the too-big mirrored sunglasses she's given me for protection, I close my eyes and remember that scene in The Marathon Man. Cheryl could ruin my mouth with a quick slip. My leg twitches. I sweat. And imagine Cheryl, about the same age as my wife, astride me. She wears the turquoise dental assistant's top, nothing else, and gently rocks back and forth, like a chambered nautilus swims, as she works. Fear and eroticism are fine bed mates. She stops asking questions, works with an intensity that feeds my fantasy, almost makes the minute, enormous pain bearable. I want to open my eyes and look at her, but when I do, my fantasy goes askew. She's at the wrong angle, has the wrong grimace on her face, looks like she could be scrubbing the neck of some little kid in a tub, determined beyond the kid or dirt or tooth or husband or job that involves looking into hundreds of mouths, all with their own unique mouth smell, weekly. So I close my eyes again, try to imagine the pressure of her body over me. She is slender but fairly tall and would weigh more than you would think. My fear? Vagina dentata? No, not teeth there. The teeth in our very own mouths. The labiodental and linguadental sounds and their absence. Pit, pet, pat, pot, putt, put. The way we’re born to gum, then chew, then, if we’re lucky? gum again. The singularly oracular symbolism of the mouth and the phantasms of worlds it spews. Teeth in a kiss, or more so, a kiss without teeth. These little enamel plates of clack-clack that fall out, hide under pillows, mutate into coins, scintillate in the sun, work against the tongue, with the tongue, “by these teeth I thee wed,” the stain, the decay, the loss. A weak spot in some god’s plan, like knees. Or is it just our sin of sugar? Oh, little white sweets of sin, please stay firm in the sulci. Cheryl finishes. I am awake and sitting upright, talking to the dentist. She says, "Everything looks great," and I agree. The sun, breaking through the clouds, reveals a single bullet mark in the glass before us, but the surface still has integrity, keeps the animals out though they can see, relaxed, grimacing, done, us through the glass, window to our interior human world.
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