Open Wide | Uber Ride

This one time when I was young the casing of a popcorn kernel hugged a hind tooth in my mouth for the better part of a month. That tooth has a number.

My dentist is in her early 30s and she has that early 30s pep about her that most girls that age have forfeited for this glum, my-life-is-over-because-I’m-so-damn-old attitude that makes them seem so much older than they really are. She hums along to pop songs while she preps to drill out a defunct piece of bone. I think to ask how teeth are classified, but I don’t say anything, because I have a suction apparatus stretching the low corner of my mouth and I’ve just been asked to open wider. She props my mouth open with some sort of mechanism I only glimpse for a moment peripherally. She goes back to humming. Gravity latches to my eyelashes and I don’t fight their heaviness. Between nerved vibrations, I picture my dentist and I, let’s call her Kelly (because that’s her name), fly fishing from a shaded riverbank back home. I picture us zipping each other’s wetsuits up for an early morning surfing session on the West Coast. I picture her opening her mouth wide when I get on one knee on a sidewalk in Paris, pulling a ring from my jacket pocket. Then I picture what her fiancé looks like and how it must be to make money and wear a suit to work and own a home theater system. She must have mentioned him to the hygienist and the words filtered their way into my drugged up daydream. I’m waking up. What a pity.

I rub at my numb chin as I walk out to wait for the Uber I’ve requested. Something funny these drivers, especially in the ‘burbs. A minivan swings up to the sidewalk in front of the dentist’s office. I look at the license plate to verify the ride is mine. Check. There’s a Dora the Explorer doll on the seat that I gently move to the adjacent bucket seat. Fútbol mom. Seated, I begin struggling to close the sliding door. The driver makes a motion with her hand and hits a button and the door closes my itself. She’s already started driving before it’s fully latched.  Something funny about these Uber rides. I can’t help but feeling like I’m breaking that cardinal childhood rule of getting in a car with a stranger, and I’m getting gypped out free candy.

I wish I had some candy. The increased sugar in my diet would get back in that dentist’s chair. I’m not craving candy. I update the destination for the ride on my phone and confirm it the best I can with my driver. I’m heading to the movie theater. I just got a wicked craving for popcorn.

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