The impulse to dig out my trusty hand-held cassette recorder/player should have been acted upon but requesting such a thing would have required more skilled interpersonal training than I’ve suffered and what would best suit the

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mood? You would expect classical, which I have not one recording, and I doubt very much that Cringer would have gone over well… One tape in my backpack was cued to play Elvis Costello’s “Trust”, I remembered excitedly, thinking I might have found the appropriate middle ground, but hesitation settled in like gangrene as I imagined the jumpy songs influencing what was going on… People have often said that when they visit the dentist the worst aspect of the experience is hearing the machines grind and whirl and whine– it’s not the most sonorous emission the world throws at your ears, true… So as I laid back on the paper-covered chair with my numbed face being twisted and contorted and pulled at I silently tried to remember and listen to “Trust” in order to keep the sound of snip snip snip from my mind… Unfortunately my attention was continuously drawn back to the tugging and the snipping and the trying to picture what the inside of my cheek looks like and whether there was scraping and chiseling or precise little cuts being made… The sheet of paper laid out across my face to catch the pints of blood spurting out across the room probably helped to muffle the sound, for which I am grateful, but they also enabled Dr. Chang to accidentally stick his thumb into my eye… I gave a feeble little grunt, not wanting to actually open my mouth to speak, as he’d specifically asked me to remain very still… He didn’t understand so I had to tell him anyways… This constituted all of the entertainment for both of us during the ten minute surgery… After he wiped my face down (and dribbled sterile fluids into my eye) I felt that something should be said to break the ice a little… We’d had a fairly intimate encounter with less affection than a night at the bathhouse and here in the afterglow I was blinking bleary eyed in the sudden light and trying to sit up without looking too hard at the stains on the paper-covered chair… Nothing award winning, I inquired… He repeated what I had just said, then asked if he’d heard me right… Yeah, no you didn’t find as skull in there or anything… He thought I’d said scar, and I repeated skull and he finally agreed that I’d said scald and decided that the period of making nice had concluded and now would be a good time to fill out my post-op procedure sheet… Okay, I’ll bathe in the next twenty-four hours and I’ll clean the incision with hydrogen peroxide and yes, no asprin… Come to think of it I don’t think you could expect Dr. Chang to be playing classical music in his office… The receptionist, a desperate type of woman who bankrolls every comment with a need for acceptance, told me I looked a little different than when I’d come in before laughing self-consciously and seeming to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown… The assistant seated behind her turned in her seat with a faint smile across her face but I couldn’t decide if she found the humour or was embarassed and playing along… I would have smiled but one side of my face was still numb and now covered with some sort of diaper… We made an appointment for next Wednesday to have my stitches removed– I’ll have to work on my knock-knock jokes before then… clip

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