Mouth Like a Hotel

Dear Dr Fraser,

I don’t think I’ve ever written you a letter before. In fact I know I haven’t. I don’t suppose anyone has much call to write an 812 word letter to their dentist unless the dentist is really bad and a lawsuit is on the cards. Don’t worry. It’s not one of those.

You’ve been my dentist since I was 6, but you’ve not had your fingers in my mouth for years. It’s not you, it’s me. Life just changes, doesn’t it. I might not come see you anymore but I still think of you as my dentist. I could uproot to Australia tomorrow, sign up to the surgery of Jed Picklebot of Boomerang Street, Alice Springs, and on my deathbed aged 89 I could drift out during the final oral examination of my life, and Jed Picklebot could be the last person I look in the eye as I die, and as I have a near-death-montage of all the eyes I’ve ever looked into, you would still be my dentist. Not Jed, the Pretender. Who I bet insists on not wearing deodorant even though he lives in Alice Springs and thinks air conditioning is for poofs. All other dentists have got a bit of thankless task to be honest. You staked the early claim. Which will really rile Jed; he’s very territorial. I imagine.

When I saw you in the bookshop the other day, I had a little warm glow afterwards. I think because of the following reasons:

1) I feel shy when I haven’t seen someone for a while.
2) You said you liked my columns and I felt 10 again, and proud
3) You made my teeth straight when I thought no boy would ever love me.
4) You’re kind of cute.

Whenever I see you, I always feel a pang of guilt. I am ashamed to say I did not go to the dentist (i.e. you) for years. I think it was down to a few reasons. Firstly when I moved out of home, my mum stopped making my appointments. I am not really a natural maker of appointments, so things lapsed there a little. Then sad things happened and I think I almost forgot I had teeth. Then I started teaching your daughter and I was too shy to contact you in case you judged me unworthy of influencing your offspring because of my dental hiatus. Then when I thought I better check that the things I was brushing twice daily (promise) were still as Dandy as the comics I used to read in your waiting room, I paused.

You know when you go to a nice hotel, and you tidy your room before you check-out because you don’t want the cleaning lady to have to do anything? You want her to go into your room, see that nothing needs doing, and have a sneaky lie down on the bed for a bit? It’s sort of like that with you, except I don’t want you to have a lie down in my mouth; there’s not enough room. Basically, I respect you too much to present you with any bad mouth situations. What if I had a cavity? You don’t deserve that. Not after all these years. So I went to another dude. More than once, but it didn’t mean anything, I swear.

I would like to thank you, though, for never making me afraid of dentists. I have always felt perfectly relaxed lying in the chair with my mouth gaping open and saliva dribbling down my cheek. I went through years of insecurity and brace work, and then had big bright straight teeth which seemed too big for my head, and then later you sent me off wisely for the removal of four wisdom teeth so they wouldn’t burst through and make me go crooked again, (the ensuing prescription drugs for which got me the most stoned I had ever been in my life by the way.)

Going slightly off-piste, I always liked your forearms. As a girl I didn’t get to see a lot of male arms up close, and the proximity to yours was always nice. There was something about the hairs on them. I don’t really understand what or why. And I liked the big blueness of your eyes behind your glasses.

Anyway. Aside from all that, I wondered if you might fancy…looking in my mouth again. I think I need a filling. I heard something go crack when I bit my penknife the other day, and I chipped another tooth on a bottle ages ago. I’ll pay you double. How about it, Doc? For old times’ sake? I don’t want to go to the other man whose name I don’t even know. And I’m not ready to move to Alice Springs yet, if ever. I’ve heard it’s shit.

Your once-goofy always-goofy girl,

Sadie, aged 34 believe it or not.


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