I am at the dentists to have Bruce, my upper second molar, pulled out. Yeah, Bruce is one of the three molars who do all the heavy work. There’s going to be a hole there from now. I’m all teary. Bruce and I have been together since I was 12. 

Bruce was there when I chewed on chicken bones and crushed those juicy mutton joints, in between gulps of Royal Stag and Blue Riband. We’ve been through everything, except sex. Bruce is too far back in there to be any use in that. Still, I’m in mourning. Life isn’t just about sex.

My old pal is goin’ away and I’m going to have ta roll my food around in my mouth, unless I want to splurge four grand on an implant. At fifty-ate, I’d rather spend the four grand on a 56″ home theater system and good scotch.

At the dentist’s I love playing ‘what’s the good word’. Its a solo version of the mind game that I play against my inseparable alter-ego, while I’m on my back, my head tilted slightly toward the young dental hygienist. She is hunched over me, the top of her uniform blouse open and the chain she’s wearing round her neck has disappeared into the steep gorge. From where I am, I can hear the roar of the rapids.

Yuck, caucasian women, when you see them up close, they have all these tiny brownish pink spots all over. The hygienist too has spots galore, her neck a virtual Flander’s Field, running up till it is smothered by blonde curls cascading down from above. Hey, relax, I could live with Flanders Fields. I’m like the Cassini-Huygens space probe, staring wide-eyed at Saturn from close orbit and each hair on my arm is acting like a high-gain antenna. And Cassini is wondering if Huygens should be sent down to Titan to investigate.

Meanwhile, the blouse is stretched so thin, it is being held together just by the inter-molecular forces that Laplace and Bohr spoke of. I am looking at a physics lab here and the top button of the lab is so highly stressed that if it were made out of carbon, it might have turned into a diamond by now.

As she works on my teeth, I’m trying to find out what the chain she’s wearing round her neck has at its end. What’s the good word? Locket? Pendant? A cross, maybe? I can’t make it out. The end has disappeared inside the gorge. And its a deep gorge. I feel like I’m in Mackenna’s Gold (Hey, Heshke, throw me the line, the current’s too strong).

Fredericke pauses. That’s right, the dental hygenist’s name is Fredericke. The Quebecois are cool. Just end a name with an ‘e’ and you can be sure it’s bearer is a citizen of Jiggle City. Only, you have to pronounce it as ‘Fredereek’ (If it was male, you’d pronounce it as ‘Frederik’). Likewise you have Michel/Michele, Martin/Martine, Sylvain/Sylvaine, André/Andrée and so on.

As she palpates Bruce’s buccal surface, the back of Fredericke’s palm keeps brushing my lips,” Are you okay, Mr Doot?”, she breathes huskily into my face through her mask and bathes me in a mild sort of fragrance. Having injected the anesthetic into my gingiva, she moves her butt just to ease her hunched position a bit, inadvertently inching herself a bit closer. Do I really need anesthetic, I ask myself.

“The doctor will be here in five minutes,” breathes Fredericke.

Suddenly, her movement causes a tectonic shift and the chain stretches and pops out with a tiny ‘ploop!’ It’s a cross with a clear stone in the middle and it is now swinging free like a pendulum. She hurries to tuck it back in, but she shifts again and the cross hits my forehead. I feel baptised. I want to be a catholic. I wish I could shrink in size and crucify myself on that cross, for the good of all mankind and to wash away everybody’s sins. (Including Dick Cheney’s).

It’s Wednesday today. Heck, who said you can’t observe Good Wensday?