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.
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 felt he’d committed suicide.
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.
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.