A Brief History of Our Time at the Dentist’s Office


Careful with that book discussion. You might hurt someone.

Funny and somewhat mortifying story from yesterday. It has to do with a book, sort of.

Due to colds and rescheduling, my son ended up with back-to-back dental appointments yesterday. He had a 2:00 appointment with his regular dentist to have some impressions made in the hopes of getting a bridge for his missing tooth. Then he had a 3:10 appointment with the orthodontist’s office for a retainer check. (Currently, he wears a retainer that has a false tooth built-in.) Fortunately, the two offices are within five minutes of each other by car.

We arrived at the dentist’s office a few minutes early. While we were waiting, the dentist was at the reception window having a discussion with someone about fluoride and the politics thereof – a discussion I don’t want to have here, by the way. She’s an information-giver and will always come up with studies and numbers for any question you ask. The woman with whom she was talking seemed pretty persistent and their conversation went on for five or six minutes past my son’s scheduled appointment.

Meanwhile, my son and I were having our own conversation in the waiting room. He’s in the middle of reading “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking. He was telling me about the book, and we got onto the subject of time travel. We talked about whether it’s really possible, and how freaky it is to try to wrap your mind around it. How would it appear to you? If you were heading toward two converging black holes, and another spaceship was behind you, then you went back in time, would you then be behind the person you had just been ahead of?

In the midst of this head-spinning ponderation, the dentist’s other conversation ended, and she told us to come on back. She apologized for running late. I said it was okay, and trying to be conversational, did mention we were going right over to the orthodontist afterword, but it appeared we had plenty of time. Then she apologized again. And a while later, again. I kept thinking, “Why is she being so overly apologetic. She wasn’t that late.” I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. Maybe I just looked stressed?

So, the kid had his impressions made. We talked about what happens next. We said goodbye and she apologized again. Geez! I’d told her it was okay.

Then my son and I went to the van and resumed our discussion of…oh, it all became clear. She’d overheard snatches of our waiting room conversation, with our repeated references to time, and who was ahead and who was behind. She probably thought we were spending the whole time complaining about not being on time. I was a little slow there.

I emailed her today with my epiphany and let her know the real deal. No word back yet.

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