The dentist’s office called. They are so excited I’m coming in for surgery Tuesday. Bless their hearts. A dentist a while back charged me a prepaid retirement plan to do a root canal and crown a tooth that dentists had been struggling to keep healthy for years, resulting a root supporting a ton of amalgam more like an ice cream cone than a tooth. The root canal/crown guy knew it was a lost cause but figured to get his share of my money while the getting was good.
“No guarantees,” he said.
Well if there were no guarantees, why didn’t he offer my money back when it was evident we had a figurative sand-rathole situation? A better question was why I agreed to the attempt anyway. And why at the very least for free, why couldn’t the canal/crown guy shoot me up again and yank the remaining root out?
Instead, to make good on the money I’d paid, his office referred me to an oral surgeon who would extract the lost cause from my jaw. Pretty expensive referral. Nice racket. I did the consulting visit, not free, and agreed to the schedule surgery. Like I had a choice?
The Friday before surgery, the tooth-puller dentist’s office called to make sure I’d not chickened-out. Why dentists and doctors hire teenaged girls to make these calls escapes me. Without exception every one of them has a voice that makes me immediately picture a stereotypical blonde California-girl airhead. They all have shrill eardrum damaging sing-song telephone presences and absolutely no sense of humor…
“Good afternoon, this is Steve Wojowaznitz, may I help you?” I said to the phone.
“This is Noogville Periodontal Group.” The phone answered back.
“Cool, but there’s only one of me. No ‘group.’ Probably a good thing.”
“I am speaking with Steve Wojawanicks?”
“If you’re looking for Steve Wojowaznitz, then I’m the one you want to talk to. I don’t know of any Steve Wojawanicks, or any Wojawanicks for that matter. So if you are really looking for Steve Wojawanicks, I can ask around, but I’m pretty sure he’s not here.”
“This is Steve w-o-j-o-w-a-z-n-i-t-z, then? I’m sorry I can’t pronounce that last name.”
“I thought I just said so. Did I lie and tell you my name was Juju Watson? I’ve been doing that a lot lately. Maybe too much coffee.”
“Well, this call is to remind you that you have surgery at nine-thirty in the morning Tuesday.”
“I’ve thought of little else since the consultation.”
“It won’t be that bad.”
“I expect to sleep through it. Might be tough for you guys though. I dunno.”
“Really, it won’t be that bad.”
“Good for you. But like I said, I plan to sleep through it. You guys can’t be looking to ask my opinion if things get a little dicey. If it is bad, and I wake up, I’ve seen the doc and I’m much bigger than he is.”
“And I suspect I’m in much better shape than he is. Besides, if this thing does not go painlessly, I’m going to be motivated to hurt somebody back.”
“Surely, you’re kidding?”
“Yes, I most certainly am.” Damn kid. Not much sense of humor.
“Oh, okay, then. We’ll see you Tuesday. You have someone to drive you to and from the surgery?”
“Nah, I’m gonna do it myself. Be fun.” Try again. Why not?
“Um, you’re going to be sedated.”
“Madam, I’m sedate all the time. You never met a more sedate man in your life.”
“No, I mean you’ll be on drugs.”
“And your point is?”
“You can’t drive that way!”
“Bet I can. Wanna bet?”
“Certainly not. That’s not safe!”
“Oh, we can make it a small bet. Let’s see, what would be safe? How about a hundred bucks?”
“A safe bet. Except you’re gonna lose. So maybe it’s not safe in that respect. How about a five-dollar Starbucks card? It’s not like I’m looking to get the surgery for free. Unless that kind of bet interests you. Does it? How about double or nothing?” That’d be cool.
“I mean it’s not safe to drive your car.”
No guts! “Okay, I’ll drive your car. Hundred bucks or a Starbucks card? Which is it?”
“No, no, no, no, no! You can’t drive after surgery.”
“I can. I’ve done worse. You can not imagine.” Some might, you surely can’t.
“You can’t. Drive…”
“Relax. My wife will drive me in.” What a tight ass!
“Oh, that’d be fine.”
“Tell you what, I’ll let her drive me home too. That make you happy?”
“Well, of course. See you Tuesday.”
“Wait a minute.”
“Eating the night before?”
“Eat a normal meal.”
“Good. Garlic Burritos.”
“A normal meal, Mr. Wojowowitz.”
“That is a normal meal. How about the morning of surgery? Should I throw up before I come into the office?”
“You can eat a light breakfast.”
“No need to throw up?”
“A light breakfast.”
Geeze, this broad is tight-assed. I bet she squeaks when she walks. “Leftover Garlic Burritos, then.”
“Just kidding. The doc sure is gutsy, knocking me out and not knowing what’s on my stomach. I’ve seen unconscious people under physical stress, and it can be messy…”
“The doctor knows what he’s doing.”
“Well, I sure as hell hope so!”
“Pardon? Oh, you’re kidding again?”
“See you Tuesday.”
“Just a minute.”
“What is it?”
“What about drugs? You filled out a questionnaire in the office…”
“You make my wife take antibiotics before surgery. None for me?”
“Pain pills after?”
“Oh, they’ll be necessary, but the doctor will give you a prescription after the surgery.”
“What if he forgets? I don’t put up with pain very well. I hurt, I’m going to want to share. I wasn’t kidding when I said I’m bigger than the doctor.”
“We won’t forget.”
“Ah, so you’re in on this. If I hurt after, and you forgot, ‘you’ being the doctor and you, after I get done with the doctor, I’m coming looking for you.”
“Mr. Wojanwits, we won’t forget.”
“You always give the wife her scripts before her surgery. What? You don’t trust me?”
“Oh no, it’s not that at all, it’s just the surgery could be more invasive than we expect, and the doctor might want to prescribe something a little stronger.”
“That’s not it. That’s really cheery news, but that’s not the reason.”
“You’re afraid if I get the drugs before surgery, I’ll take them and go out and practice driving my car. Or your car, we never nailed that down.”
“You’re kidding again?”
“Yes, I am kidding again. Except about the drugs.”
“Fine. See you Tuesday.”
“Are you absolutely sure you want to see me Tuesday?”
Loosen-up kid or you’re gonna have a stroke! “Yes, I’ll be there Tuesday morning.”
“Fine, sir. Thank you.”
“And did we decide: my car or yours?”