The Cavity - July 13 - 2003

The CavitySunday, 13th July
So I’m at home right now. I have taken a two-day vacation from stand-up to go to my dentist in Laconia, NH. Yes. I traveled 7 hours to go to a dentist. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m very finicky about who looks at my teeth. As a kid I battled many demons in school. There was the glasses I was diagnosed with in the second grade, the speech therapist in the third and a slew of other childhood problems, which I will take to my grave. However, the one thing I had better than everybody else was my teeth. It sounds silly, but it’s true. Maybe it was because of my parent’s rigid enforcement of brushing twice a day or maybe because I hate soft drinks, but I have been led to believe that my teeth are perfect. That is, until today.

I drove to my dentist’s office this morning for a 10:30 appointment. A small office with a couple assistants, a lady named “Lee” cleaned my teeth. As she dug into my mouth we talked about her kids, arraigned marriages, and I was even bold enough to challenge the motivational quotes poster taped to the ceiling. “Do not confuse wealth with success.” Does this mean homeless people are successful? I don’t think so.

Dr, Eckel, my dentist, entered the room and pulled his stool next to my chair. Nothing out of the ordinary. Dentists do this. Almost like a quick rundown to make sure the assistant didn’t s**** anything up. Something was wrong. I could see it in the hesitancy of the assistant’s face. A minute ago she was a talkative, cheerful lady who was telling me about her 26-year old daughter’s sex life, and now she was painfully stoic, nervously clutching her hands together. Dr. Eckel jabbed one of my back teeth with the pointed end of the scraper, “See how it sticks.”

“What sticks?” Honey sticks. Gum sticks. My teeth do not stick.

Then the words came out. “A little decay.”

Decay? For a moment, I thought that this was that awful MTV show where they play pranks on B-level celebrities. I sat up expecting Ashton Kushner to jump into the room with a camera crew and yell “You’ve been punked!” No, it was not the case. Dr. Eckel looked me in the eyes. “You have a cavity.”

If you’re still reading this, you may be asking yourself two questions. Why am I reading this, and what does this have to do with anything. Well, for starters this cavity was almost a gentle reminder that anything can come from anywhere and disrupt my life. Three years ago I was broke, shut out of the only comedy club which I worked in and contemplating an offer to join the JP Morgan trainee program. Today, I am back on feet, and am making a strong run almost soley as a stand-up comic. Next week I’m returning to my dentist to get the cavity fixed. I don’t know what exactly he’s going to do. My friend, Mike Tsirklin, said that whatever he does, it’s going to hurt. Needles, novocaine, drills. I hope it does hurt. Deep down I know it would hurt more if I didn’t do anything about it and gave up my dreams for a cubicle at JP Morgan.
Tarun ShettyComment