Two pairs of nostrils to look up
My hands are curved and linked together like a nervous monkey who has escaped the barrel yet my legs are crossed at the ankle, giving the entirely incorrect impression that I'm relaxed about being here.
These two ladies like their Laura Ashley patterns because both of them have smocks covered in intricate floral designs. I'm in drab denim with a old and baggy hoodie on top, feeling rather deflated as I lie there, counting the holes in each separate ceiling tile: twenty eight rows of twenty eight dots as it happens.
"So, no anaesthetic for you today?" Kelly asks, a smile in her eyes as her perfect teeth are hidden behind her surgical mask. "I'll be as gentle as possible."
Water sprays fine droplets in the air, caught like diamonds in the glare of the overhead light which inexplicably has two plastic bags wrapped around the handles. The neck has nine rings like a rubber concertinaed robot arm and the fine mist of my own saliva and blast hose dampens my face.
Avoid eye contact. Don't look at her or the dental nurse. Think happy th---
"Sorry about that."
PHARK - that felt like someone had electrocuted my jaw bone! Best to focus on Nova - what auto-tuned dance song is on now? Can't hear it over the drill. Close my eyes or I'll see the reflection of my absurdly stretched mouth in their goggles.
Five songs have been played - what's that, fifteen or twenty minutes? My hands are numb, seemingly cemented together and I can't feel my feet. The pain is there, but in dull waves, easily bearable. It is only when a jet of water - or a slip of the drill - touches the exposed root or sensitive gum that I flinch inwardly. No sudden moves here - she has a hook in the other hand and the nurse is a stickler for the suction hose....
Remnants of the original Art deco cornices are decades older than the 1970s ceiling tiles; three elegant scalloped edges rudely cut into in places by the insertion of fluoro lights.
I'm only gonna break break break break your heart Taio Cruz warns and I try to lose myself in his bragging whine, hoping that he hooks up with the Beautiful Monster that NeYo tells us about immediately following. Who makes up these singers names and why....?
Scraping. Pulling. Picking. Stretching. Suction. Cutting. "Can you turn your head towards me a bit more?"
Despite the amount of use and the volume it produces, my mouth is actually quite small and the dentist works hard to keep it open wide enough when every instinct in my conscious body wants to clamp it firmly shut.
Rolls of foam are placed in between my inside cheek and teeth for working space; the suction pipe is now jauntily resting on the right corner of my mouth; three more rolls are placed up under my top lip giving me what I imagine is a frightened sneer and what feels like a fish hook is yanking my left side further open.
Five more songs - what's that, fifteen or twenty minutes? Katy Perry's suffered one hell of a hangover and someone's saying 'Forget you' when the ruder version is selling way more copies...... was that 'Sweet Tranvestite' I just heard, albeit in Glee style.... Oops, water just splashed in my eye.
"Sorry about that. Try not to flinch, will you?"
Four fillings later my mouth is finally freed, the forced Joker grin now a deflated dead caterpillar.
Kelly's teeth are film star perfect as she hands back my credit card. I mumble something approximating 'goodbye' before she calls out with, "Kath come back, we haven't taken your bib off."
Drool pooling at the corners of my mouth, I complete the hour-and-a-half torture transaction with a 'Thanks' and a 'See you Later' without pondering the irony of it.