This time each year I see such a strange dichotomy: horror films and images of death juxtaposed alongside Disney princesses and babies in pumpkin suits. This morning, though, as I rode to work listening to a scene from James Frey's Million Little Pieces, the book that caused Oprah such controversy awhile back, I lived vicariously through my worst nightmare.
Using all too well the age old advice, show don't tell, Frey gives every detail of his experience in the dental chair, having four teeth replaced and repaired with no anaesthesia. In fact, he spent the greater part (during a double root canal) strapped down, holding two tennis balls with a Babar the Elephant book held firmly to his chest.
I won't skirt the issue: I suffer from dental phobia. Sure, I know that modern advances have changed dentistry (although I still can't find a dentist who offers routine laughing gas for all procedures, something I truly desire), but I suffer from a long history of dental anguish--abcess at age four, an old Army dentist who drilled through my tooth into a nerve (also when I was four). I endured cavities upon cavities no matter how often I brushed and flossed. As a result, riding in to work, I might as well have been sitting strapped in that chair with Frey, overwhelmed by the smell of burning teeth, feeling grit under my tongue, the halogen lights in my eyes, the sharp metal probing my teeth, my gums.
This Halloween, I don't worry about vampires, ghosts, or goblins. Just keep the dentists away from my door.