My chair is tilted back into the full reclining position. Soft music plays. A young woman approaches me. Her smiling face hovers above. She asks if I’m comfortable. I say yes. She places sunglasses over my eyes. I close my eyes and try to relax. For the next half hour or so, I’m letting everything go. I’m not going to worry about how the governor is fucking cripples over. I’m not going to worry about Medicaid. For the next half hour, I can’t do anything about those things. I am going to treat myself to some sweet disengagement.
I’m settled in and comfy. I’m even getting drowsy. “Are you ready?” the young woman says. I say yes. “Open your mouth,” she says. I open my mouth. And then she starts scraping my teeth. This is the part I don’t like. A trip to the dental hygienist would be like a trip to the spa if I could skip the annoying dental hygiene part. I love the submissive recline position and the sunglasses. (That lamp that illuminates my face so the hygienist can see what she's doing sure is bright.) But I could do without her poking around in my mouth. I wish she was feeding me grapes instead. I wish the water she was squirting in my mouth was a pina colada in a ceramic pineapple.
And now I know how my mother felt. When I was about 10 years old, she sent my sister and me off to a neighbor’s house for a couple weeks while she went to a spa. She packed up her nightgowns, novels, crosswords puzzles. She told me how much she was looking forward to lying in bed and being pampered, not doing any cooking or housework, having meals brought to her room.
Except the spa was the hospital. She was going in for foot surgery. She was raising two crippled kids pretty much by herself and working as a waitress at the Kozy Korner diner. So not much time for herself. This was a good excuse to relax. Respite. Guilt-free detachment. Painkillers. Women like her didn’t get many opportunities to go to spas. They had to create their own. Too bad foot surgery was a mandatory part of the package.
My phone rings. The hygienist abruptly withdraws her fingers from my mouth and asks if I want to answer it. I look at her like she’s nuts. She resumes scraping my teeth. Is she serious? Do some people actually stop to answer their phone in the middle of getting their teeth cleaned? I feel sorry for those people. Don’t they ever relax?
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