I went to my dentist today for my cleaning. The same thing always happens. The dental assistant greets me. She’s always wearing a medical mask and makes extraneous sounds under it - little sighs, grunts and murmurs. She’s a little off.
She asks me if I brush my teeth daily. I’m 35 years old. Is this question really still neccessary? Not only do I brush my teeth daily, I brush them multiple times daily as well as floss and other things. I had a root canal a few years ago and I’ll never forget the moment that I felt it, the novacaine was not strong enough. I raised my hand to alert my dentist to the fact that I was in searing pain and she smacked my hand down. I never want to have a root canal again. And so every day I clean the shit out of my mouth.
The dental assistant can never get the floss around this one tooth I have - because that tooth is crooked and very close to it’s next door tooth neighbor. She grunts and sighs, “I think you have tartar build up there from too much candy. Too much candy. I can’t get the floss through.”
There is no “too much candy.” I gave up candy. And when I did eat it - I might have had a piece now and then. I never kept any at home. I tried to explain to her that just like last time, she is having trouble navigating around my tooth. But I’m trying to explain that with a suction hose hanging off my lower lip.
She stops and looks at me. She asks, “Do you really floss?” Can’t people in the dental field find less damning ways to ask questions? I said, “Yes, twice a day.” She said, “Hmm. Something’s not right.” SHE is not right. She’s grunting under a mask.
Then the dentist comes in. He says to me, “Are you in college?” I’m 35 years old. I already feel five years old when I’m in a dentist chair but my womanhood really feels insulted when I’m mistaken for someone who is between the ages of 18-21. I say, “No. I’m working.” He says, “Well why wait to get into the workforce? That’s good.” I say, “No. I went to college, 14 years ago. And now I’m working, as I have been for 14 years.”
We had this conversation already, a few months ago, when I came in to get a procedure done. Back then he asked me how exams were going.
So then he says, “Where do you work?” I say, “The E! Network.” He says, “Never heard of it.” Oh, yes you have. Every person I meet in L.A. says, “I don’t watch TV. I don’t know what that is.” And then I always say, “Do you watch those E True Hollywood Stories?” “Oh yes, I love those.” Well, that would be E!
He says to me, “What do you do at E!?” I say, “I write for a late night comedy show.” He says, “Wow. So you’re a big shot.” I hate talk like that. No, I’m not a bigshot. Nobody in show business is a big shot unless you are the top 1%. He says, “Well, I’ve never met a comedy writer.” And he shakes my hand.
The thing is that he has met a comedy writer - a few months ago when we had this same exact conversation and handshake. I know he’s busy and I’m not offended that he doesn’t remember this conversation. That’s not the point. The point is just that it seems to boring and pointless. We’re just going to have this conversation again in March. I want to say, “Hey, we had this exact conversation.” But that’s sort of rude.
He says, “So how do you do it? That takes such talent.” Okay, that was nice. Usually people say something like, “Tell me a joke.” So I was careful not to tell him I’m also a stand-up. I’d rather get another root canal then do that. I explain to him what a writer’s room is like and he says, “Wow. So what other shows do you write?” I explain to him that I write on one show because it’s a 40+ hour a week job and most people don’t write on two late-night shows at once - it’s not really…possible. It’s like if I thought he was also practicing dentistry in the next office at the same time. It’s not a reflection of my talent - it’s just not possible in the time/space continuum. So he says to me, “Well, you’ve got the talent and drive…” (how does he know?) …”And you will be writing on more shows. I know it.” Uh, thanks. I hope I’m not. 40 hours a week is enough for me. Besides I’ve never had an out of body experience and worked in two buildings and for two shows at once. It seems exhausting.