Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Woman in Gold

After seeing “The Kiss” last year in Vienna I went on a crash course on artist Gustav Klimt. So I was excited last month to see his sumptuous “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” at an exhibit at the Neue Galerie timed to coincide with the opening of a film about the portrait’s history. The painting was renamed “The Woman in Gold” by the Nazis when they confiscated it from its Jewish owners. Why? Adele Bloch-Bauer was Jewish. The Nazis had a rapacious eye for art, and they could well recognize beauty, but they could not acknowledge it in a Jew.

Image: Neue Galerie, New York

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

50 Ways To Leave Your Dentist

Carol was cool, a woman dentist when there were no women dentists, and her boyfriend-receptionist was a tattooed biker with silver rings. But Carol got this new hygienist, a former oral surgeon from a former Soviet Republic, who cleaned my teeth with violent efficiency, as though I were out cold. Blood streamed down my cheek and that was that.
     Then I found Joel. He was an empath, flinching whenever I’d flinch, yet I liked him and his thin, tired eyes. Six months later, when I came back, he was gone. Joel quit, they said. I always thought he’d committed suicide.

Saturday, May 16, 2015


My dentist was concerned about a couple of brown spots he’d found on my lower-left canine. Decalcification, he called it and planned on touching them up with a bit of bonding material. No freezing necessary.
     To his surprise, though, they turned out to be cavities. He was preparing the surface, he told me, “and the drill just sunk right in.”
     And for all of the horror I’ve seen in the spit bowl, I think it disturbed me more right then to hear my tooth decay discussed as casually as I might describe the wood rotting away on my front porch.
Image by Linda Wilson.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

4 out of 5 Dentists

It’s a proven fact that the gallons of fluoridated water that ran through our taps helped mitigate the tooth-rotting effects of childhood Tang drinking. But while Gen Xers reared on Cap’n Crunch and Pop Tarts may have been spared a mouthful of cavities, they now must endure the semi-annual harangue for cosmetic enhancements proffered by dentists who no longer earn their keep from fillings and extractions. My tooth doctor's pushing a $3000 porcelain overlay on a wonky molar. She keeps composites in a repurposed Ferragamo scarf box. These she shows me so that I can understand how the procedure works.

Photo by Oleksandr Bedenyuk.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Power of Rituals

Fifty-two, 53, 54 . . . If I can make it to Dr. Deeley’s office in 72 steps I won’t have a cavity. Sixty-eight, 69, 70. Crap! I’ll go around the block again. I’ll take smaller steps. What’s the time? 2:15. Good. My appointment’s not until 3. I leave early because it takes me so long to do stuff. I have to make sure I do everything in the correct order and I had to brush my teeth really well this morning — 250 times up and down and then 250 times across front and back — until I see the blood.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My New Dentist (1986)

Last month, one of my molars started bothering me just enough to break my longstanding dental moratorium. My old dentist had wanted my wisdom teeth out, but I didn’t want to, and since I was soon to be off my mother’s dental plan, I just never did, but I did try to brush well.
     Then, I had my own dental plan, and still stayed away.
     Then, my tooth hurt.
My new dentist also thinks I should have my wisdom teeth out, but he’s not so insistent. And besides, he says he’ll send me to a specialist who offers intravenous Valium.

Image from The Awful Tooth (1938).

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Candy Cabinet

Early on I lost my sweet tooth. A gem of family lore, retold endlessly at holiday get-togethers, suggests how. As a tyke I found myself alone one day, exploring the bathroom. There was nothing interesting in the closet, only a pack of serviettes beneath the sink. Disappointed, I climbed onto the counter to crack the medicine cabinet. Ah, the marvels there, the colours and shapes! A bottle of white Smarties. A roll of mints, half-finished, smelling un-minty. A pack of chocolate—I made quick work of it. Call that two-sided luck, for by eschewing the Aspirin I’d gobbled the Ex-Lax.

Image: Mrs Prep

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