Considering how much I like to learn about things that happen inside the body, I'm woefully unprepared for this. When it starts I make panic eyes and say in a distorted numb way: "Ah Ahr Oo Oong? (Translation: "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!") First my mouth is open, then it's draped in a latex tarp, then there is some sawing or drilling and it sounds like the dentist is playing Space Invaders on Tooth 31.
"Does the sound bother you?" he asks.
And I'm like, "No, dude. Everything is Atari right now."
If I had to guess the procedure, I'd say this is how you perform a root canal: Numb the patient's jawline with a gigantic needle. Isolate the tooth so that it is just a tiny fleck poking out of a green latex tarp. Play Space Invaders in patient's mouth. Poke holes into the suspect tooth while patient considers: "Wait a minute. Isn't this technically a felony?" Stick different sized pins into the tooth and work it like a drain snake until the patient wonders if she's been in this chair for four hours, four days or a half hour. Fill the mini holes with a nice-smelling substance that seems to be a technically advanced version of the metal caps that made our parents' mouths look like a recycling bin.
My dentist says his ideal vacation would be a root canal in Barbados.
"It's root canal time somewhere," he says, playing on the "It's 5 o'clock somewhere" theme. Then he tells me to sit still, which is almost impossible because my stomach is laughing and my eyes are beading with humor tears.
At some point I have to use the bathroom, which requires me to wander past the lobby with a complicated network of things dangling from my face. My mouth is full of humid precipitation. I'm seconds from raining drool.
It ends not much later and I've paid the equivalent of a plane ticket to have my tooth sawed away at for 90 minutes, and for -- I must remind myself -- eliminating the massive headaches and face pain I'd mistaken for the looming threat of a stroke.
Chuck has weighed down the kitchen with some of my favorite things: Goldfish crackers with that extra blast of cheddar powder, Chocolate soy milk, eggs and English muffins. He goes to play in the woods with The Great Archivist and I do some writing, read some "Malarky," respond to an email from one of my favorite old friends Nora Gabora, ditch "Malarky" for awhile on her recommendation to read "How to Be a Woman."
This all ends with me in The Atomic Lounge with a pile of goldfish crackers on my stomach, listening to The Magnetic Fields and reading Gabrielle Bell's collection of comics "Lucky."
We make a last-minute decision to go to a dance performance in an old factory-space turned entertainment center. In it, the dancers simulate the final 70 minutes on a sinking ore ship on Lake Superior. Moves range from barefoot leaps to rugby scrums and it has a live score. It's out of this world. We buy the CD.
Back at home, we finish making the dinner we abandoned mid-simmer and watch "Salt."