A last oldie but, in my opinion, goodie. Again, from Peace Corps times…
As I was prying the kernels from an ear of dried corn the other day, I was overcome by a feeling of pleasant nostalgia and decided to relate to my Peace Corps friends a long-forgotten memory of my youth. Back in high school some friends of mine and I used to play a game we affectionately called “Old Man Dentist.” You see, as Key Club members we often went down to the local Retirement Home to play Bingo with the folks there, but after doing this once or twice, it sort of lost some of the magic and left us wanting a new thrill.
Gum disease is a funny thing: sometimes you lose all your teeth as you get older, but more often than not, a few “hangers-on,” if you will, remain. These are by no means held firmly in place, and often times it takes only a little coaxing to get them out. The idea was, find some guy asleep, mouth open, and pluck out one of his few remaining choppers. They didn’t need ’em, right? The trick was, if the dude woke up, someone yelled “Anesthetic!” and the game was over; you got no credit for the “surgery,” and you had to make up a convincing story about what you were doing (come to think of it, I believe extra points were awarded once for a story involving the Tooth Fairy and a king-sized Baby Ruth-in place of money under the pillow. It was never clear whether the guy was convinced, but he nodded and accepted the proffered candy…it was king-sized after all).
As I was relating this to Crystal, she stopped me to ask if I had actually participated in this “horrendous” (his word) activity. Participated?! I invented “Old Man Dentist” (or OMD as we referred to it covertly). And, I might add, I was never caught…at least not by a “patient.”
It all started with an old pair of childproof scissors. We were making our way one day through halls of open doors while avoiding Bingo, when I spied J. McCutchin (that was what the nameplate on the door said) asleep and open-mouthed. A lone front tooth stood like a white horse on a field, bathed red by the sunset, and the idea was born. The craft center wasn’t far away, and the scissors were the best we could do. Well, you can guess how it went from there.
Boy, after that we never missed a week, until the fateful day when we passed the room of A. Schlittermann. We had long ago ruled him toothless, but for some reason I stole a quick glance inside. “A.” was snoozing contentedly with an audible snore. One peek was enough to catch a glimpse of a shiny back molar. I started jiggling my chain (we all had chains with our “pulls” on them; mine of course jangled loudest), the sign that I was contemplating a move. My friends tried to stop me. It was foolhardy: even if it hadn’t been a back molar (none of us had ever succeeded in getting one), the room was right across from the nurse’s station. But at that moment, the nurse was paged to the other side of the home. I knew I’d never get another chance like this, so I pulled out my pliers (I was never without them then) and got to work. It was surprisingly simple, really, but my fatal mistake was holding my prize aloft and crying “Success!” just as the nurse returned and looked inside. She screamed, A. Schlittermann awoke with a snort, someone yelled “Anesthetic!” and we all ran!
It still counted, by the way. The pull still counted. I mean I didn’t wake him up. Anyway, we’d long since stopped signing in at the register with our real names, using the names of local dentists instead, so none of us ever got caught. Yes, fun times. Though for some reason, Crystal still won’t speak to me.