I So So SO Hate The Dentist

Today, I sat through a ton of drilling, filling, and capping due to a tooth I broke a few days ago.

I hate drilling. I hate filling. And I hate capping. I hate the dentist, period. I can't stand even talking someone to one, much less go in myself. But I couldn't deal with the pain or the sharp edges on the tooth for long, and went ahead through with it.

It brought to mind the story of what happened the last time I went to the dentist. It was such a horrific experience, it spawned a 12-part story on Mentally Incontinent circa 2004 or so. And I thought, given how long it's been, I'd share here with you guys. I hope you enjoy it.

Tales of Dental Woe (in 12 parts)


Whereupon Joe cracks a filling, which leads to cracking a tooth (which leads to a root canal that you will read about in part 2)

Now, there is something you must know about me right from the very, very start:


I cannot stand anything even remotely relating to dentists or dental work. I've done enough in my life to practically guarantee that I will be going to hell, and knowing hell as it has been described to me by every Baptist I've ever met, I know that I have an eternity of unpleasantness to look forward to. I fully expect my little corner of hell to be a dentist's chair with a speaker piping in the "All ‘American Idol Losers’ Radio Network" directly overhead (although, to be fair, I’m not so sure that the “All ‘American Idol Winners’ Radio Network would be any better).

My hatred for the dentist started way back when I was just a little tyke. I can remember doing everything within my power to avoid going to the dentist - which usually meant misbehaving so badly that the dentist du jour would forbid my mother ever bring me back into his / her office. I'd squirt the water pik at the dental assistant, I'd spit on the lamps to watch the bulb steam and eventually break, I'd mess with the chair to the point of the adjustment motors grinding to a halt - I was TERRIBLE.

That is, until I met Dr. Bob.

Dr. Bob wasn't like the other dentists. He actually understood kids. He knew what made them tick and what made them respond -- and that was putting the fear of Almighty God into them so they'd stop screwing around with his stuff. He'd routinely tell me that God was watching and "Jesus didn't die in agonizing pain on the cross to forgive sins like playing with my dental tools, so you’d better just stop right now, young man." Yeah, I guess it was probably a horrible thing to do; convincing a child that Jesus was selective in the sins he forgave, but hey - it made me sit still. And when I sat still enough that he could poke whatever needles he needed to into my mouth without gashing my cheeks or impaling my tongue, it actually wasn't THAT bad.

As a result, Dr. Bob was the only dentist I would visit for the next 20 years. Literally - from age 6 until age 26, he was the only person I'd ever go to. It didn't matter where in the country I was working or how far away from him I lived - if I had an issue with teeth, I flew home and drove to Decatur to see Dr. Bob. He was the ONLY dentist I trusted. So, imagine my dismay when, one night about a year and a half ago, I discovered that I had a cracked filling by way of biting into a piece of steak (yes, a piece of steak - and not a tough piece, either, just a nice juicy piece of steak) and breaking a tooth right in half. Immediately, I hopped on Yellowpages.com and looked up Dr. Klein's number and found out - *GASP* that there was none listed.

I immediately called my mom who, between inquiries as to why I was moaning in agonizing pain, found the only number we knew of that he had. I called it up and got the worst news of my life:

"Dr. Klein passed about six months ago, sir. I'm... I'm terribly sorry."

Well, crap.


Whereupon Joe is a whiny brat (which leads to the root canal I said you'd read about in this part, but to teach you a lesson, I will make you wait until part 3 to meet) 

"Docthor Bobh Kleinh ish deadh," I told my wife with my palm held to my mouth.

"Who's that?" She asked.

I gave her an irritated look. "My denthisth," I stated. "Wait - Well, noh anymorth..."

She gasped and smacked my arm. "God, you're terrible," She replied. "The poor man passed away, and you're making jokes."

"Well it's noh fair!" I lisped. "He can't be deah! My tooh hurs!"

"Uh... What?" She asked.

"My tooh hurs!"

"Your WHAT?" She said, smirking.

"Tooh! TOOH!" I said, gesturing toward my cheek.

"Ohhh, your TOOTH," She said. “Yes. Indeed. He simply CAN’T be dead, because your tooth hurts. It all makes sense.”

I glared at her. "Shuh Uh,” I tried to yell. “Thih isn’h funneh! My tooh! It HURS!!!!! Goh... Whah will I do now?"

"I dunno," she said. "Call the dentist, maybe?"

"He's deah," I replied plainly. "It's terribullhy inconveinhenh."

She sighed. "Not him, you jerk. ANOTHER dentist… A LIVE dentist."

"Noh Noh Noh," I insisted. "No fuhhin' wayh."

"Why NOT?" She inquired.

"I don't goh to anyhonh elsh buh Docthor Bobh," I answered. "Fuh THAH shiih!"

"Oh, you big baby!" She answered, remembering my long diatribe about dentists and my hatred for them. "So what are you going to do, go around with a broken tooth for the rest of your life? Just grow up and call another dentist."

And you know what? I actually considered it for a moment. For just a brief point in time, I entertained the thought of just foregoing the dentist and dealing with the pain of the broken tooth... And then I inhaled once more and the rush of wind against the exposed nerve convinced me otherwise. She was right. I would have to see another dentist.

I say again... Well, crap.


Whereupon Joe's dead dentist forces him to visit another (which is where that stupid root canal you've been promised for 2 parts finally happens, but not in this part, you now have to wait until part 4) 

There's something else you should know about me: I'm EXTREMELY lazy.

For instance, I have to choose a new dentist, right? I've been going to the same one for 20 years simply because I HATE going to the dentist and he's the only one who'd actually make me comfortable enough to go. So you'd think that, after his death, I'd spend days, weeks... Months, even, researching every dentist in the tri-county area to find one that might meet with my approval.

You know how long I spent? Ten seconds. Yep, just long enough to type three w's, the words "yellow" and "pages", and a period with a "com" following it into my browser window (which, incidentally, was Firefox, because Internet Explorer is dumb. I just thought I'd mention that). I picked my state, chose "Dentists" from the dropdown and clicked "Go". Oh, look, there's one 2.4 miles from my house. Guess what that means? New dentist found, mission accomplished, all that jazz.

It's like I said - I'm lazy. Once I've resigned myself to the fact that I have no choice but to do something, I look for the absolute quickest way to get it done... Damn the consequences.

So I called, told them it was an emergency, and secured an appointment for the following morning with Dr. Lucile Fur. And that, ladies and germs, is how Satan became my new dentist (get it? Lucile Fur? LuciFur? It's funny! And it's also TRUE because she was the DEVIL).

As you'd probably expect, Satan's dental office was hot as... Wait. No. You know what? I'm not going to pun there. Nope, not gonna do it, no matter how much you might want me to. You can just imagine it yourself, you pun-lover, because I refuse to grab at such low-hanging fruit. But yes, it was very, very hot in there. They made me wait for nearly an hour, during which time I was forced to read three-month old copies of People and Sports Illustrated to keep my mind from getting SO bored, it would lift the lid to my skull and scamper giddily out the window, daring me to chase it (which of course would go horribly, not having a brain and all. I'd just fall over, and really, what kind of game is THAT??). Finally, Satan's assistant poked her little horned head from behind the portal into the torture rooms.

"Mr. Peacock?"

"Yuh," I said, still holding my palm to my jaw.

"Dr. Fur will see you now. Come with me."


Whereupon Joe FINALLY tells about the stupid root canal (but not before he gets into trouble, which is what happens in this part, leaving the actual root canal for part 5) 

I followed Satan's little minion down the hall and into a stark white room with a horribly-situated beige dental chair in the rear corner, facing the doorway. She curtly bade me sit and, having read my bible, I knew better than to cross a demon -- especially one which had easy access to those little scythe-like dental pick things that they shove under your gums and laugh while they make you cry for your mommy. So, I took my place in the one-size-too-small-for-Joe dental chair and awaited what was coming for me here in the sixth-and-a-half level of hell.

And I waited.

And I waited some more.

And I grew bored (much like you are with this story... Only there's no novocaine for you). So I began doing what I always do in the dentist's office when I get bored -- I began playing with the little "toys" littering the office. I flipped on the suction thingy and began squirting water from the water pik directly into it, causing it to go "Gurgle Gurrsh Gurahhallla Gurg" -- and boy, was it fun! I don't know if you've ever done that, the whole "mess with the expensive equipment" bit, but man, you should try sometime! It's nearly hypnotic, the sounds that come from the suction straw when you squirt the water into it. OH! OH! And also, you can blow little bits of paper or lift the cover on magazines from across the room with the little air blower thingy on the other side of the water pik! It's SO COOL! You can make a game out of it - rip off a corner of your dental bib, roll it into a ball, and place it in your open and flat palm. Then, blow it across the room with the blower thingy! For added fun, squirt it first so it becomes a super-cool makeshift spitball. See how many you can get to stick on the wall opposite you before the dentist walks --

"Mr. Peacock!" the stout woman stated from behind a light blue mask and safety goggles, her latex-clad hands on her hips.

"Uh... Yuh..." I responded, a still wet wad of apron in my hand.

"Entertaining ourselves, are we?" Dr. Fur asked rhetorically.

Embarrassed, I dropped the wet ball and attempted to replace the water pik / blower thingy to it’s proper place on the tray, but failed miserably and accidentally let it fall where it was pulled taught at the end of it's cord. "Uh... Sorruh..." I said, replacing my hand to my cheek in some sort of physical sign of pain.

"Oh, it's okay," She responded. And then she said six words (see? SIX! She is the devil!) that sent a chill down my spine:

"You're about to get your punishment."

I yelped -- literally yelped, out loud - as she laughed and took her place on the stool beside me.


Whereupon Joe-Joe suffers for his sins (and learns a valuable lesson about root canals performed on dead teeth, which he will relate in part 6) 

She was just joking about the punishment, she said.

Right. Whatever. That's why the next two hours were filled with a special kind of agony reserved for only super, super, super bad kids.

First, Satan scraped and poked and prodded the dead area of my broken tooth. She shoved a spikey thing in there, she blew air on the exposed nerve, she wiggled the hunk of remaining tooth -- honestly, the only thing there was left for her to do to cause me unimaginable pain was kick me swiftly in the balls. One of those giant, WWE-style axe kicks where she waves her hand to the crowd who chants her name – "SATAN! SATAN!" – as she winds her leg up and then brings it right down on my round-and-tenders.

After doing all of her initial digging around, she administered a few shots of novocaine to deaden the area. When I asked, she assured me that there would be no feeling and all I'd really be aware of is some "light pressure."

SHE WAS LYING. Oh, not about the pressure -- I felt pressure, alright. I felt pressure like you wouldn't believe when she pulled out her industrial-sized angle grinder and sawed my tooth apart. But I also felt sharp, stabbing pain. She told me that it was psychosomatic. She assured me I shouldn't be feeling any pain whatsoever.

"BUH I AHH! I SWEAHH!" I screamed through the mouth-holdy-opener thingy.

"But you shouldn't," She replied, and kept right on drilling. I tried to focus on other things to take my mind off of the oil prospecting taking place in my poor molar -- like the smell of burning bone matter as she drilled, or the taste of my own tooth dust mixed with blood and small hints of novocaine that escaped the needle as it was inserted and landed on my tongue.

As you can imagine, it didn't help.

Eventually, it all came to an end. My jaw felt like it'd been held open by a tire jack for a month. My upper-left gum felt like there was some sort of latin dance of love performed on it by a hot-blooded woman wearing spiked stiletto heels. But it was over -- all of the pulpy decay, along with the nerve of the tooth, were excavated and I was left with a temporary crown on top of a hollow shell of what was once a molar. The suffering was finally over.

Or so I wished.


Whereupon Joe is in much pain - both from the root canal in Part 5 AND from something else (which you will discover in Part 7 and must be dealt with in Parts 9, 10 and 11) 

"So, how was it?" My darling wife asked as I groggily opened the door and stumbled inside.

"It SHUCKED," I replied, my lips numb with novocaine.

"Well, it was a root canal," She answered. "They don't tickle."

"Yesh, buh thish dhenshih... She wush th' DEBIL," I stated.

She laughed. "Well, at least you got the crown put on on the same day, so you don't have to go back," she replied. "Why don't you go on upstairs and get some rest... I'll be up there shortly."

And that's exactly what I did. It didn't take much time at all for the heavy anvil of sleep to fly through the air as if launched from one of Wile E. Coyote's slingshots and land on my head, and in no time at all, I was drooling blood and blowing spit bubbles all over my pillow. When I woke up a few hours later, I stirred through the haze and immediately clamped on with both hands to one thought pounding in my head:


I got up and took some ibuprofen, attempted to drink a little water, and went back to sleep, where I slept for another six hours or so. Sometime around 4:00AM, I woke back up and was once again greeted by the same thought as before.


This pattern repeated itself throughout the entire next day, as well as the day after and the day after that. In fact, the pain - in varying degrees of assorted levels - persisted for a little over a year. Yes, a year. Of tooth pain. That's 365 days of pain in the tooth. That's no good. But there's this interesting phenomenon that takes place when something hurts in a place where you've pretty much sworn off allowing anyone to poke or prod in again forever: You just grow used to it. You allow it to persist, because the alternative is just THAT much worse. So even though I had this pain in my tooth, I could handle it because there was no way in hell I was going back to the dentist unless some particularly skilled necromancer could raise Dr. Bob from the dead.

But somewhere around a year into this exercise in futility, my attention on my canalled molar began to grow - as did a particularly large abscess.


Whereupon Joe sees nasty white goo seep from under his crowned tooth, forcing him to go back to a dentist (whom you don't have to wait until part 8 to meet, thankfully) 

"NO," I insisted. "There is NO WAY I'm going back to a dentist."

Andrea sighed. "Joe, there is pus oozing from a tooth. I'd say you really have no choice."

"Oh, I have a choice alright," I replied. "Why don’t you go to the garage and get the ball-peen hammer… I’ll get started hitting myself in the head with a brick to deaden the pain."

"Don't be ridiculous," she answered. "I've seen enough Animal Planet to know an abscess when I see it, and if you let it go too long, you're going to end up with a huge hole in your gum."

"What?" I asked, shocked. "What the heck do you mean?"

"Well, when an abscess ruptures, it leaves a pretty gigantic hole in the spot where it popped," She answered.

I cringed. "God... are you serious?"

"Go to the dentist and find out yourself," She answered.

Well, crappity crap.

So once again, I hit yellowpages.com and did a quick search. I scanned the list for a dentist near me, skipping immediately over Dr. Fur's Infernal House of Mouth Pain and hitting the next dentist on the list -- which, ironically, was less than .10 of a mile down the road from the House O' Dental Hell. So I called, explained my situation, and made an appointment for the next day.

I knew the second I walked into this new dental office that I was going to like it, because situated in the corner of the waiting area was a free internet terminal. There were TV's in each corner, each one playing a different channel. The magazines were from THIS MONTH. And the best part:

There was air conditioning.

But really, I didn't get to enjoy any of these things, since it took less than 10 minutes before I was taken back into Dr. Tom's office and seated in a very cushy and comfortable "oversized" dental chair made specifically for gigantic dudes my size. The room had its own TV hanging from the ceiling that was playing CNN, although I didn't get to watch much of it because Dr. Tom was in to see me almost immediately.

"Hey there, Mr. Peacock," he said in greeting. "My name is Dr. Williams. What seems to be the problem?"

"Well," I said, full of trepidation, "I have this crown, and... Wait. First, you need to know something."

"What's that?" he asked.

"I HATE going to the dentist," I answered.

"Oh," He said casually. "Well, you're in luck. I specialize in people who hate me."

I looked at him quizzically, like he just solved an algebraic equation using an abacus. "Well," I said, and continued to explain my situation.

"Well, let's take a look-see," He said softly as he flipped down what looked like the scope on a pair of night-vision goggles that rested on his head and changed the channel on the TV to what shortly became The Joe's Mouth Network.


Whereupon Joe finds out that there's something wrong in toothville (that will be rectified in parts 10 and 11, but only after he finds out even worse news in part 9) 

"Oh, my," Dr. Tom said in such a manner as to leave no doubt that this was most definitely not a good "oh my".

"Whuh?" I asked, feeling my lips and tongue slightly wrap around his latex-clad thumb.

"This is definitely no good," he replied, confirming my suspicions. "I'm going to have to remove this crown to see what's going on in here."

"Whaih!" I cried as he removed his thumb. "Thih... *cough* This crown cost nearly a thousand bucks to put in the first time!"

"Yes. It's definitely a nice crown... very well done," he answered from behind his dental mask, reaching for some sort of weird device that looked like a cross between a pair of pliers and something you'd see in a Vietnamese POW camp. "It's too bad I have to pulverize it."

"PULVERIZE?!?" I said with a gulp. "But... But... Pulverize sounds like it hurts!"

"Well, if you're small, made of porcelain and glued to the molar slot of a nervous young man's mouth, then yes, it'll probably hurt. Otherwise, all you'll feel is a bit of pressure."

"Pressure? Pulverize?" I asked. "What is it with you and ‘P’ words that don't sound like ‘Pain’ but essentially mean the same thing?"

"Calm down," he responded in a calm and soothing tone. "I assure you, this won't hurt. Just watch the procedure on the monitor above us."

And so I did. I calmed down. I watched. I felt some pressure. But to my absolute disbelief, I felt no pain. I did, however, nearly choke to death on a tiny piece of porcelain that fell down my throat. I also nearly bit off Dr. Tom's index finger when he went after it to retrieve it. And I nearly punched the dental assistant when Dr. Tom couldn't get the porcelain chip with his fingers and asked her to retrieve it with the suction tube, only she didn't so much retrieve it as she performed invasive suction surgery on my sinus cavity from jabbing that damn tube into my mouth too fast. But overall, it ended alright.

"Okay, now that that's done," he said, and leaned in close to get a better look. "Yep, just as I feared."

"Oh, God..." I half prayed.


Whereupon Joe gets the worse news, along with some instructions (which make things hell until part 10) 

"This tooth is cracked vertically, nearly all the way up the root. It's going to have to come out," Dr. Tom said.


"Fine," I replied, quite confident in Dr. Tom's abilities. "Whatever it takes to get rid of this pain. Let's do it."

“Alrighty,” he answered. “I’ll go prepare the referral—”

“REFERRAL?” I barked. “No… Let’s do it. Here. Now.”

"Oh, I'm not the guy for that," He answered with a slight chuckle. "I'm going to send you to an oral surgeon who can do it a LOT faster than I can."

"ANOTHER Dentist?!?" I cried. "I can't stand this!"

"Look," he said, taking off his gloves. "Dr. Paul is an old friend of mine. He's going to take good care of you. You'll barely feel a thing. Just relax for a moment and I'll write up that referral." He stood to exit the room as I sighed and accepted my fate. Just then, he turned back around and added, "And keep your tongue out of the socket. You'll just make it worse."

God, I wish he hadn't said that.

I left his office with a slip of paper that bore his signature and an insatiable desire to slide my tongue into the shelled socket left by the removal of the crown. It was 5 days before I could make it to Dr. Paul's office, and every single minute of every single hour was spent mentally forcing my tongue to stay on the right side of my mouth, far away from the gap in my teeth. I'd put my tongue on the far rear molar and inch near the hole, I'd place it on the bicuspid just to the other side of it, ever so nearly tempting fate and exploring the hole. But one thing kept me from actually doing it:

"You'll just make it worse." The final words of Dr. Tom.

Finally, the day of my appointment came. The sun shone hard through my car windows, intensifying the heat of the brutal Georgia summer. Luckily, I had a tasty, ice cold sweet ice tea from Quiznos and a freshly serviced air conditioner in my car to help keep me cool. I drove deep into the southland to Griffin, GA, the home of the stereotype of your typical Georgian as well as Dr. Paul's office. I referred to my printout from Google Maps constantly, hoping I wouldn't fly past it and end up being terribly late for my appointment.


I was 45 minutes late for it. And it's not because I couldn't find the place... It's because I simply couldn't believe that the building I was led to was a dentist's office. This was a tiny house situated between a gas station and a "Fish Supreme" restaurant with absolutely no signage in front of it to designate that this was where you got your teeth cut out of your mouth. It was only after I eliminated every other possibility on the block that I finally got out of my car and headed up the sidewalk. There, on the door approximately 100 feet from the road was a tiny plaque reading "Dr. Paul D.D.S."

I sighed and walked in.


Whereupon Joe very nearly says "Fuck This Shit" and walks out, allowing his mouth to rupture and bleed everywhere (which, of course, he doesn't, which leads to the drama in part 11) 

"Uh... Fuck this shit," I whispered to myself as I walked into the overcrowded front waiting room of Dr. Paul's office. There were 25 people all waiting for their turn under the knife sharing 6 chairs and a small wooden bench in the front of this repurposed house that was VERY similar to the one my grandfather lived in when I was a kid. Hardwood flooring with steel grate registers for heat, radiators as air conditioning, closets with small painted knob-latches in just about every room... I half expected my aunt to be drunk in her bedroom and my cousin Buffy to rush out, greet me and suggest one of 2,000 things to do that day that would get us out of that house.

"Can I help you, honey?" I heard from my right. Behind a half-opened frosted glass window was an older woman with an abnormally white smile and way too much makeup.

"Yeah, uh..." I stammered, deciding whether or not I should bring my other foot past the threshold of the doorway or simply turn tail and run. "I... I'm late."

"Ah, Mr. Peacock," She said in a thick southern accent. "We was wonderin' what happened to you. Come on in, fill these out." I saw a clipboard with a stack of documents jut from the other side of the window; a small silver chain holding a pen tailing behind. I bit my bottom lip, walked all the way into the room, grabbed the clipboard, and popped a squat over in the corner of the room that was least populated by nervous sweaty folks.

It was nearly an hour after I finished my paperwork before I was called back to see the butch... er, Um.. Dentist. I was soaked in sweat as a result of my wait in the room that some engineering genius decided it was a great idea to install water radiators as cooling in ANY building in Georgia, much less one where a person is predisposed to be overly anxious. My bet? He probably graduated from Georgia Tech.

I followed the dental assistant down the ancient hardwood hallway to a room that looked more like a laundry room than a dentist's office (and for good reason... It was also the laundry room).

"You can sit there," the assistant said curtly, pointing to a small dental chair. "Dr. Paul will be back here in a moment."

As she left, a door slid open at the back of the room revealing another dental assistant with a basket full of bloody aprons and towels. I stood there frozen as she separated the two types of garments into individual baskets and began another load of wash, complete with a heavy dose of bleach and a scoop of unscented Gain.

The smell of the laundry made me sweat even more as the bleach fumes rolled across the room and entered my nostrils and eyes.

"Yeah, okay, I'm outta here," I said aloud as I turned around to make my exit. I nearly collided with a midsize man with a mask and thick-rimmed glasses covering his face.


Whereupon Joe gets crazy high and bleeds a lot (which plays a major part in part 12) 

"Hi there!" He exclaimed as he extended his right hand. "I'm Dr. Paul. And you’re Mr. Peacock, right?"

"Uh... Yeah," I said, contemplating just how easily I could execute a quick Shock-Lock-Rip maneuver from the glory days of my linebacker career in high school football and shoot past this man and out the door. I thought better of it, realizing that nothing could be worse than the throbbing pain in my gum, and the sooner I just shut up and sit down and got this over with, the better off I’d be.

"Why don't you go ahead and take a seat and we'll get you all prepped and ready," he stated.

I took a seat and he got me all prepped and ready, which involved applying some sweet-tasting local anesthetic to my gum before injecting liberal amounts of novocaine in and around the area where he was going to chop my mouth to bits. He also put a nitrous oxide mask on my face, which was probably the greatest mistake any man could make with me. I am a total and utter lightweight, and it didn't take much from the mask to get me nice and lucid.

"Alrighty, Mr. Peacock," Dr. Paul said as he returned from whatever the hell it was he was doing while I was getting stoned. "Are you ready?"

"He he he he he he," I replied.

He began work on digging my molar out of my mouth. According to him, he had to split the tooth into three sections and remove each one individually, which was nothing short of absolutely horrendous. The smell of burning tooth rose into my nostrils as he sawed bilaterally up the bone and burned away a lot of core material.

And all I could do was laugh.

Between the bleach and the burning molar flying into my nose, I began to develop quite a stream of mucus oozing from my nostril. The dental assistant did her best to keep it clean, but I could taste in and amongst the flecks of broken tooth and blood and bleach and my sweat the salty, disgusting flavor of snot.

And all I could do was giggle.

As he began removing hunks of tooth, I became keenly aware of the limits of novocaine as an anesthetic. The deep infection of the roots of my tooth were largely unaffected by the deadening agent and immense flashes of pain flew up my jaw and into my brain, setting it alight and causing tears to stream down my face. I wanted to cry out; I wanted to yell “Get your goddamn hands out of my mouth before I beat you to death with your own golf shoes, you fucking sadistic son of a bitch!”

But all I could do was snicker.

"Okay, last piece," Dr. Paul said as he clamped down on the third slab of tooth. "Ready?" he asked.

"Hehehe! Ha! HAHAHA!" I replied.

He yanked and I sobered up REALLY quickly.

"HOLY FRAGGLE ROCK!" I cried out as the flames shot from the empty socket in my gum and I began to swallow heat and blood and bone.

"Yeah, I'm sorry about that," Dr. Paul replied. "Your tooth was incredibly infected and, unfortunately, there's just no way to deaden the inside of a tooth."

Sorry's fine and all, but I still wanted to Shock-Lock-Rip his ass.

The assistant cleaned me up and stuffed wads of gauze into my mouth. I peeled myself from the chair I'd soaked in my sweat and headed to the front desk, where I paid for the privilege of being cut and broken and stabbed and drugged. I left my grandfather's house and got into my incredibly hot car, cranking up the engine and feeling an intense gust of stale, hot air fly from the vents and hit me in the face. I had the worst headache I'd ever had in my entire life and was thirsty beyond belief, so I took a sip of the tea I'd left in the cupholder of my warm car. I couldn't muster the power to spit the liquid back into the cup due to the numbness in my mouth, so it just dribbled down my chin and all over my shirt.

Sticky, hot, bloody and feeling like crap, all I wanted to do was go home.


Whereupon Joe doesn't get to go home (not right away, anyway, but you'll see why in this part because there are no other parts) 

Things were beginning to get better – if only slightly. The air had just started to turn cold and De La Soul’s “Pass tha’ Plugs” had popped on the randomized MP3 player, a song which always makes me feel better. I was just settling into my seat for the 20 minute drive home when I became aware of a small tint of blue light in my rearview mirror. It only glimmered in my peripheral vision for a second before it went away. But then it came back again.

“Wha?” I asked myself as I looked up to see what was going on behind me. Just as my eyes met the mirror, I heard a small “WHOOP!” scream loudly behind me.

“FUCHHHHH!” I screamed through my gauze as I pounded the steering wheel with one hand and turned it slightly with the other, heeding the request from the Griffin police officer behind me to pull over. I sighed as I placed my car into park and turned down the stereo so as to avoid further pissing off the officer from the notoriously hard-nosed police force of Griffin.

He took his time waddling up to my driver’s side window, which I rolled down just as he arrived. “Driver’s License, proof of insurance and Registration,” he demanded. I pulled my wallet out from my back pocket and produced the information he requested, heeding the advice from my father to always wait until it’s requested before digging around to get it, so as to let the officer see you move and not spook him (really good advice, by the way. It’s part of the reason I’ve gotten out of so many tickets).

He examined the documents and ducked down to look at me. “Mr. Peacock, the reason I pulled you over is because you are driving erratically. Have you had anything to drink this afternoon?” He asked from behind his mirrored sunglasses.

“Noh,” I replied, releasing a small pocket of blood-laced drool that began tumbling down my chin.

He tilted his head with curiosity, much the way a dog does when you attempt to explain string theory to it. “You alright there, son?”

“Noh,” I replied. “I juh goh donh ah uh denhuh.”

“You what?” He asked.

I reached into my mouth and removed the bloody wad of soaked gauze. “The dentist,” I said, my mouth still numb. “I just had a tooth removed.”

“Oh, my,” he said. “I bet you feel like hell… You sure look like it.” He looked me over for a second. “Did he put the gas on you?” He asked.

“Yeah,” I replied with a bubble of spit forming between my lips.

“Hmm…” He muttered. “Wait here for a second.” He took my information back to his car and did… Something… With it for about 15 minutes. All the while, I was mopping up drool and blood from the bottom of my lip, occasionally wiping down my goatee which began to look like a paintbrush dipped in some sick artist’s idea of a statement against social norms. The cop finally exited his car and returned to my driver’s side window with a small metal clipboard.

“Alright, here’s the deal,” he said as my stomach began to knot up. “I’m SUPPOSED to ticket you with DWI, but because I know what you’ve been through, I’m not gonna do that. But I DO gotta ticket you for something, so here’s your citation for speeding five miles over the limit.”

My stomach loosened, but thankfully not too much or else that’d have been a whole new mess. He bade me sign the ticket, which I did. “And if it’s alright with you,” he added, “I’m gonna follow you to your house, seeing as it’s real close to the Speedway and I was headed that way myself.” He was, of course, referring to the Atlanta Motor Speedway, the source of much gastric distress for me anytime there’s a NASCAR or NOPI event.

“Thank you, officer,” I said as nicely as I could.

“No problem at all,” he answered. “I want to make sure you get home safely, but I’m mostly looking out for the other motorists on the road, to tell you the tooth.”

He grinned a wide grin, proud beyond belief of his incredible pun. I laughed. Not because of the nitrous, but because it was the only choice between the two I had that wouldn’t land me in prison for assaulting an officer.

It took about three days for the swelling and pain to subside, and when it did, I felt better than I had in over a year and a half. I got a call a few weeks later from Dr. Tom’s office, following up on the surgery and asking about getting an implant installed in the empty socket.

“Will I have any issues in the future if I don’t?” I asked him.

“Well… Your rear molar might move a bit. Otherwise, you’ll just look like a hockey player.”

I can live with that.