It is a testimony to how little pain I experience on a daily basis when I admit that the two days a year that I go for dental cleanings are two of the most uncomfortable days I live through annually. I dread each visit for six months, take anti-anxiety medication before heading off to the dentist’s office, and routinely reward myself with a Steak ‘n Shake milkshake after the ordeal is over. I positively hate going to the dentist.
I want to be a compliant dental health patient, but somehow I cannot master the art of working “with” the hygienist. She tells me to move my tongue out of her way, and I would happily comply, except I have no clue where my tongue currently lies. I wouldn’t even swear that I have a tongue. She asks me to keep my mouth open during the water spraying process and then closed around the vacuum that is supposed to remove the water. I do exactly the opposite. This results in water running out of my mouth, down my chin and around my neck to soak the tag at the back of my shirt. I tolerated this process better in days gone by when the hygienist cleaned a particular section of teeth and then instructed me to rinse and spit. Rinsing and spitting I get.
Apparently though, rinsing and spitting were deemed to be undignified actions on a par with exposing an open wound to the public. A new, less unsightly way of cleansing the oral cavity during dental exams was necessary. Enter two new forms of oral torture, the water sprayer and vacuum, and I despise them.
The same people who are responsible for the removal of spit sinks from dentists’ offices also replaced paper towel dispensers in public restrooms with air hand dryers. Air dryers are fine for drying hands, but what am I supposed to use to wipe water droplets off the faucet, clean grape sucker off the face of my grandchild, or blot extra lipstick off my mouth?
Add to my consternation the fact that I no longer have the luxury of checking the date due card in the back of a library book to see if it is time to return my book. Date due cards were thrown out with spit sinks and paper towel dispensers. If I want to know when my book is due back at the library, I must get on the computer, access my personal account, and then navigate to the screen that lets me check the status of borrowed items.
My 5-year-old granddaughter is an aspiring artist and recently I wanted to show her how to draw two identical pictures at once using carbon paper. I searched the shelves of Wal-Mart for carbon paper but found none. I finally asked another shopper, a woman about my own age, if she could help me find carbon paper. She said, “Honey, I don’t think they make it anymore. In fact, you and I are probably the only two people in the world who even know what carbon paper is.”
I prefer chalkboards to touch screens, a paper checkbook ledger to Excel, a friendly-faced teller to a bank machine, and clocks with hands that go around in circles. I also liked it when prices were clearly marked on individual items in the store rather than posted on one shelf in the general area of where the item should be stocked. I liked taking photos with an actual camera, removing the film, taking it to the drugstore and waiting a day or two for pictures to be developed. Call me crazy but sometimes I even long for a phone that lives in one place and is attached to a base with a cord.
Take me back to the days when the judicious use of a spit sink was not considered a breach of etiquette but the flaunting of exposed bra straps was.