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Thursday, April 12, 2012

When The Monster Under the Bed Comes Calling









Do you know what's lurking behind your refrigerator?

I hope not.

I am afraid of the dentist. I loathe going to the dentist. I hate the sound of the drill, the paper bib clipped under my chin, the light shining in my eyes. The close up of my dentist's nasal hairs. The sound of my own mouth full of instruments and cotton swabs trying to carry on a conversation, when the only words I want to hear are...we're DONE!

I come to this hysterical hysteria honestly. When I was a child, a trip to the dentist was legitimately scary. In my youth, a shot of novacaine cost fifteen dollars. More than my family could afford, so my Mom would lean down to me and ask if I could stand it, just for a minute...a minute. My recall in this matter is perfect, down to the number of fish in the aquarium next to the spit sink (14), and the smell of juicy fruit breath.

Now a grown adult, I admit to trembling and sobbing in the parking lot getting out of the car BEFORE the appointment. I have been known to plead, beg, shake and squirm so badly the dentist calls me a moving target. That, my friends, is exactly my intent. If he plans to get me to open my mouth, he has to catch me first. What I like to think of as a fair fight in the dental arena of drillers and drillees.

And when the tears and pleadings fail, I make jokes. Terrible ridiculous jokes. To my hygienist. The image of my dentist howling as he lowers his drill is too much for me to even consider with novacaine. Not to mention, that is precisely how I imagine him in my jaw clenching nightmares.
It is impossible to leave the chair without the "FLOSS" lecture. Each tooth, caressed not once, not twice, but three times a day plus the pitch for a new sound wave inducing solar powered pulsating rotating gum stimulating toothbrush, I should REALLY own.


So being a smart aleck, one day I mentioned to the hygienist-floss-dentifrice-life- coach that I had a friend who used her toothbrush to clean out the corners behind her refrigerator. A small pause. I looked up at my hygienist, her face slightly flushed, as she replied, "Ooh, I do that, too. Once a week."

There must, I told myself, there MUST be a twelve step program for her.

If not, I would invent it myself.

The WLFT Program.

The WHY LOOK FOR TROUBLE rehabilitation institute for people with way too much time on their hands.

The twelve steps are as follows:

1. Trouble will find you no matter where you are, how carefully you hide, how nice you are, whether you are tall and scary looking or meek as a mouse.

2. Trouble requires no invitation, will not RSVP, shows up unannounced and demands your attention regardless of your age, sex or IQ.

3. Trouble lurks everywhere, not just behind the refrigerator.

4. Trouble has been known to wear disguises, fake beards, clown shoes, excessive make-up, and wrap around Elvis sunglasses.

5. Trouble can pass through a metal detector, a full body pat down, and a foot x-ray.

6. Trouble may double as a foot you suddenly trip over or be as bold as a knock on your door.

7. Trouble may arrive tucked inside fancy stationery, a well crafted crafty email, a text message or linger in a late-to-be opened voice message...we are sorry to inform you...

8. Trouble is the rest of the sentence after the word BUT.

9. Trouble scoffs at survival kits and emergency preparedness drills. No matter how well you rehearse, organize, graph, collate, detail, outline, plan, scheme, practice and prepare, trouble WILL land on your desk.

10. Trouble is a two-faced, lying, yellow bellied meanie.

11. Trouble flunked the Emily Post School of Etiquette for lack of manners, never raising its hand, opening a door, writing a thank you note and for leaving the seat up.

12. Trouble is not afraid of dental hygienists. Or floss.

As President of the WLFT association, if nobody else will say it, then I will.
Get a grip.

There is no monster at the end of this book. Actually, the name of the book was The Monster At the End Of This Book and my kids loved it. At the bottom of each page, a dire warning, "Don't turn the page!" We would make scary noises, screw up our faces in fear, hearts pounding, and TURN THE PAGE. Phew! No monster. Page after page after page, terror mounting until the FINAL PAGE. Holding our collective breath,we fluttered the last page and I asked...are you sure?...are you SURE?...are you REALLY sure??? We were and we did and found lovable, fuzzy ol' Grover wearing his goofy grin.  We laughed in relief, knowing the only monster was the one we had imagined together.

Occasionally, our lives read like the pages of this fantasy tale. There might be a monster. There could be a disaster. We might not survive.

There might be TROUBLE.

Yes. There MIGHT be trouble. Even if we super glue the pages together to avoid the inevitable.
So, here's what I would needlepoint on a sofa cushion for you. A personal affirmation.

We will turn the pages together.

No matter where you are or where you call home. In your life, right now, at this moment you have enough to find your way. If you need a night light, a flashlight or a beacon to see through the fog, let us do that for one another.

It is a wasted effort to cling to the page, to fear the future or to blame the past. It requires courage to clear away the cobwebs and the terrible stories away and to know that we will endure, we can rebuild and succeed. Together we can turn the page to discover how small our "troubles" really are. We have no choice except to turn the page and live.

I resolve to visit my dentist regularly. Without weeping.

I will use my toothbrush to brush my TEETH, but if anyone reminds me to FLOSS....

There will be TROUBLE.

* When things go bump in the night....

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