March 17, 2021
I finally got into the dentist today to repair a capped tooth. I have never been good about going to doctors or dentists for no reason (read, preventative checkups). When I was younger it was because I had no insurance, but it also came from a lack of trust in medical science. I have always said there is a reason they call it medical “practice.” That mellowed as I grew older. One reason is because I now have insurance but also because I know with my age comes more potential for things to go wrong. Age has forced me to both doctors and dentists to fix what I had neglected in my youth. To quote Doc Holiday (a dentist) from the 1993 movie Tombstone, “my hypocrisy only goes so far.”
Like many medical offices, things have changed during the pandemic. While that includes the safety protocols, it also means no longer providing nitrous oxide to help nervous patients (that would be me). As I sat in the chair, I recalled one of my favorite scenes from the movie Little Shop of Horrors. The online trailer said this “horror black comedy musical film” was released in 1986 and adapted the 1982 off-Broadway musical comedy of the same name. This was in turn based on the 1960 film The Little Shop of Horrors. The 1986 film stars Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin, and Levi Stubbs as the voice of the carnivorous alien plant Audrey II. The film also featured appearances by Jim Belushi, John Candy, Christopher Guest, and Bill Murray. With so many of my favorite comedians, how could I not like it?
The film is about a geeky florist shop worker who finds out his Venus flytrap has an appetite for human blood. One of my favorite scenes from the movie happens with a visit to the dentist. Steve Martin was cast as Orin Scrivello, DDS, a sadistic, nitrous oxide-addicted dentist. The patient was played by Bill Murray as Arthur Denton, a hyperactive masochist who visits Orin the dentist for “a long, slow root canal.” The more pain Scrivello inflicted on Denton the more they both enjoyed it. While I did not suffer the same fate, there have been times in the past when I have believed I was coming close.
Thoughts: One thing I have been forced to realize is that when I ignore problems they rarely go way on their own. In the past I probably would have ignored the tooth because it did not hurt. The problem with that approach is that by the time it did hurt, the problem would have intensified. By taking care of the problem early I avoided greater discomfort in the future. We took my former approach when it came to addressing the pandemic. We ignored it, said it would go away, and then denied it even existed, until the pain was too great. Some have decided to do the same with the new vaccines now available. If enough others get vaccinated, we will develop herd immunity and they will not have to worry. That ignores the pain caused if you do get the virus or if you spread it to others you love. I got the vaccine. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.