Reversing the Numbness

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Adventures in Dentistry

Wow, I feel like a stranger on my own blog! It's been a crazy month and I just haven't been able to reverse my numbness much lately. I've missed you all terribly, though, and I'm happy to be back. I look forward to catching up on your many excellent blogs in the coming days.

So tonight I'd like to flash back to my college years, probably 1992 or maybe '93. I was very poor, of course, and often found myself selling CDs or baseball cards so I could afford to buy a few death dogs and potato logs from the local Dairy Mart. (My body cringes at this now.) I was always looking for ways to save money, and this led me to shop around a bit while searching out a new dentist to do some work I'd been putting off. Basically, I needed somebody who would be willing to bill me for at least part of the fee.

After a few calls to local dentists, I found a guy in nearby Monongah. It's only 15 or 20 minutes from Morgantown, so I gave the cat a ring.

Me: Hi, I need some dental work done. Do you offer payment plans? I'm on a college student's budget, I'm afraid.
Operator (an older man): Sure.
Me: Great! I'd like to make an appointment. I'm pretty busy with classes in Morgantown; what are your hours?
Operator: We're flexible. When can you make it down?
Me: I don't suppose you're open on Saturday....
Operator: Sure! Name a time.
Me: Uhhh ... 3 pm?
Operator: See you then!

Wow! I'd found the most flexible dentist ever! I was stoked and made it to his "office" a few minutes early on the agreed-upon day.

I put "office" in quote marks because as soon as I pulled up, it was obvious this wasn't an ordinary office. It was more like a house. An old, out-of-shape house. Still, poverty can make people do crazy things, so I rang the bell.

A man in his '60s or early '70s came to the door tearing into a sandwich. I could tell by his voice he was the man I spoke with on the phone.

"Hi, I'm Dr. XXX. You must be Bryan! Can I get you a roast beef sandwich? My wife will whip it right up!"

"Uhhhhh. No. Thanks."

Now, kids, when a dentist offers you a sandwich before a checkup, what do you do? That's right, you run. I think most people who know me would say I'm a rather sensible person, but on this day, I'm afraid my I just didn't have my shit together. So I entered the building despite the sandwich.

It was sort of basement like, with clutter stacked on every table and chair, as well as on the floor. The dentist clearly lived upstairs, and his wife came down to look for something, walking about as if I weren't even in the room. Then I heard the front door open and a somewhat younger, eccentric man entered. I soon found out he was a neighbor from up the street, and it appeared he had heard the news that the dentist had a patient and didn't want to miss the event. After a quick introduction, the dentist led me to his chair in a small room at the back of the building. The room was lined with compartmented shelves, and in each box was a plaster cast of a full set of teeth.

"So what are you looking to have done?" he asked.

Nothing by you! "Uh, well, I'm just kind of shopping around right now. I'm not necessarily looking to have work done today."

"Well, the first thing I always do is take a plaster mold of my new patients' teeth," he said.

Try to plaster me and I'll punch you in the throat! "As I mentioned on the phone, I'm really low on funds, and I can't afford to pay for something like this, I'm afraid. So I should probably be goi..."

"Don't worry," he replied, "my payment plans are very flexible."

"I really don't want to go into debt over dental work," I said.

"How does this sound?: A quarter a month. Twenty-five cents. Can you afford that?"

Dear god, this man is crazy, I must get out of here. Now. "Uh, you know, I'm really not comfortable with this situation. I think I'm going to just consider my options now, but it's nice to know you're down here and available."

This went back and forth a bit, with his friend constantly assuring me that he and I were with one of the great dental gods who ever graced the Mountain State. I finally made it clear that I wouldn't be having anything done that day. The dentist finally gave in, but not wanting me to leave empty handed, gave me four or five full-size tubes of Rembrandt toothpaste (this stuff was expensive at the time, like $12 a tube or something) and about a dozen toothbrushes. Then I started my retreat.

"Wait, there's one other thing I'd like to talk to you about," he said as I shimmied toward the front door. "I have two words for you: Colloidal Silver." His eyebrows perked up as his head cocked sideways, awaiting my response.


"You've heard of AIDS? Cancer? Herpes? Pneumonia? The common cold, even?"

"Uh. Yes. I've heard of those."

"Colloidal Silver cures them all, every time."

He proceeded to produce a small bottle of clear liquid with a homemade-type label which itemized all of the ailments this miracle cure could defeat. He and his neighbor explained that they'd both been taking Colloidal Silver every day for more than a year and they were both is perfect health. They felt like they were twenty again. The doc apologized for not being able to give me any, as his supply was limited, but he could put me in touch with a person who sold it for a very good price.

I told him that he and his friend did indeed appear to be in, err, excellent shape, but as I mentioned I was on a tight budget and, being that I was in good health, I would pass this time but thank you oh so much for thinking of me.

At this point I was really, truly freaked out, and I paid my respects and beelined for the door. But not before he could stall me one last time.

"Wait, I do have one more thing you can take with you, if you want, but I'd like you to bring it back to me the next time you come down."

I looked at the item in his hands, which he'd apparently picked up from one of the many stacks in the room. It was a worn, dog-eared, '70s era issue of Playboy.

"Aaaaaaaarrrrrgggggghhhhhhhh!" I was out the door in a flash. I fumbled with my keys as I tried to unlock my Subaru Justy while looking over my shoulder, convinced I was being pursued. When I finally got in I put The Silver Devil in first gear and got the eff out of there as fast as I could.

Of course I told my story to everyone I knew, and eventually to a buddy of mine from the Monongah area. He laughed and told me that the guy had indeed once been a very respected dentist in the area, but had begun losing some of his faculties in recent years. My friend always was prone to understatement.

I haven't been to Monongah since.

So that's my crazy dentist story. Want to learn a little more about Colloidal Silver? Then, by all means, check out this video, which the Dalai Mama pointed out the other day.


Erin O'Brien said...

I like the way you called him "cat."

You should have taken the Playboy.

I have a similar story, except I let they guy do the work.


Eric said...

i don't remember this story...seeing as how I was living with you at the time, that's pretty weird.

i've heard of this guy...they call him "the civil war surgeon." got a cold? amputation... with a hack saw.

instead of anesthesia, you're offered either a strap of leather to bite down on, a bottle of Maker's Mark, or both.

Airam said...

If that's not a dental visit from hell then I don't know what is! Glad you made it out of there ok!

SleekPelt said...

EOB: Has anyone ever called you 'End of Business'? I've always regretted turning down the Playboy. Hello.

eric: Can't believe you don't remember this. Zee remembers it well.

airam: Welcome back! It reminded me of something that might happen in Little Shop of Horrors. Yikes!

Zee said...

Eric, I cannot beleive you don;t recall this story. I LOVE this story. Hell,I think I've told it as many time as Sleek has. However, I always thought that you did let the guy do some actual dental work..a cleaning or something minor.

Colloidal Silver. Ha.

Matthes said...

You have to have made that up. Thats nutso!

BTW, I always think of the RXI offices whenever I see the movie Worng Turn on. It's set in WV and thats all I know about WV-RXI and these crazy C.H.U.D.S in WV. (anyone remember that movie?)

Rob Zero said...

Awesome. Truly awesome.

SleekPelt said...

zee: I admit my memory is somewhat cloudy, but I'm pretty sure I didn't let the guy in my mouth.

matthes: Nope, it's true to the best of my recollection. Some of the quotes are approximations, but if anything it was crazier than I've been able to portray.

rob: Glad you like it!

The Dalai Mama said...

Matthes: Yep, I've seen Wrong Turn. I thought it was hilarious. I've lived in WV for so long, that I find our "inbred psycho" portrayals just out-of-control funny. I lived in a very rural area for my first 17 years, and I have to say, I never knew of anyone like that! Well, not that bad anyway. ;)

The Dalai Mama said...

Matthes: Yep, I've seen Wrong Turn. I thought it was hilarious. I've lived in WV for so long, that I find our "inbred psycho" portrayals just out-of-control funny. I lived in a very rural area for my first 17 years, and I have to say, I never knew of anyone like that! Well, not that bad anyway. ;)

getto said...

SO funny when you told it person!

josh williams said...

My dentist from my youth lost his licenses for a while because of self-prescribing painkillers. He was my favorite dentist and my mum would agree he was not weird other than the 70's hair. We discovered this Christmas he had died over the holidays, my folks and myself always thought he was tops. In fact I have fillings that still hang tight thanks to him.
I remember a ... I think this story is best saved for a book review. Kind Regards and Happy New Year JW