For my first root canal appointment, I came prepared. I took four Advil and said a prayer. While I was under, the dentist canalled the wrong tooth. For my second root canal, I took four Advil and made the sign of the cross. I thought perhaps my usual God was busy and that this one was taking new prayers. The dentist followed my lead and made a rosary out of dental floss and broken toothbrush heads. She kissed it. This time she got the correct tooth but accidentally dinged the one next to it with her drill.
“Not to worry,” she said as I stared at my bloody maw in her little dental mirror. She would do the 3rd root canal for free. This was fine. I was upset at first but a root canal is a great excuse to get out of work. I was well enjoying my three-day vacation.
For my third root canal, I came unprepared. No Advil, no beseeching any Gods who seemed unwilling to come to the phone right now. I came in alone, raw, pure of heart, strong of tooth and weak of nerve.
I was sitting in the waiting room, passing the time with a 3-year-old copy of Women’s Health magazine. It was the May edition and Christie Brinkly was on the cover smiling at me in a sarong. “65 and still thriving” read the cover. I scoffed loudly and the little boy sitting in the chair next to me jumped and gripped his mother’s arm. Thriving. What is thriving? I spat on the cover, right on Christie’s apple pie face and watched as my saliva soaked through the page. The spit made her look gray and soggy but still she smiled up at me. She must be a really happy person, I decided. Resilient too. I smiled back at her, practicing the way she smiles with just her teeth, no gums, but it was hard because I only had 8 teeth left.
Meghan is a freelance writer and copywriter in San Francisco. She’s written about climate companies, farmers, and professional mayonnaise taste-testers. She was ranked as a Top Humor Writer on Medium, was a contributor to The Bold Italic, and won a Silver Anthem Award.