The Mayan Long Count calendar ends on December 21st, 2012, and skittish types fear a volcano-spew apocalypse accompanied by ear-splitting tectonic plate shifts and a Godzilla tsunami.
I’m unfazed. My 2012 cataclysm is here already.
Dental End Of Days meets Crone
To lose one tooth may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose nine looks like carelessness.
– with apologies to Oscar Wilde
There are three layers to my recent dental End of Days – one archetypal, one psychological and one farcical.
Archetypally speaking, I morphed from Mother to Crone in the space of 35 minutes – this being the time the surgeon spent wresting nine teeth from my skull to leave me looking like Medusa’s harpy. I reached this conclusion after running the following scientific equation: Few teeth + grey hair = crone
Symbolically, the Crone represents a woman’s third stage of life when her childbearing years are over and she can spend her time getting wise and compassionate. She acts as a mentor and teacher and, traditionally, was widely respected by her society. Crones are meant to get creative, look within and prepare for death.
All good, except for the last bit.
In addition to my sudden crone transmogrification – and right up to the hour before my procedure – I indulged in a psychological state Dr Freud knew well.
Denial is a coping tool that works until it doesn’t. Ultimately, it only served to make me look even more stupid than usual.
Day Surgery Nurse: Could you please confirm how many teeth you’re having extracted?
Day Surgery Nurse (looking skeptical): It says here you’re having nine out.
Nurse: I’ll check with Mr B. (my surgeon)
Surgeon appears a short time later.
Mr B: Claire, we discussed this several months ago. You’re having nine teeth extracted, not seven. Plus a few wisdom teeth.
Conclusion: Denial is feckless. Face reality.
I have left the most embarrassing bit for last. It even has a motto.
Mr W, my congenial anesthetist, makes cheerful conversation as I’m wheeled into the operating theatre. No doubt, he is trying to keep me chirpy and I gibber and laugh a little too loudly. I am transferred to the operating table and a nurse hovers over me with an oxygen mask. I want to run away. Fast.
Chirpy Anesthetist (CA): What would you normally be doing on a Monday afternoon?
CA: Great. Who do you write for?
Me: My sister and I have a blog.
Me I’m writing a post about Burnie. It’s a strange place with weird people.
Less Chirpy Anesthetist (LCA): Mmmm. My wife’s from there.
I try to backtrack but my voice is squeaky with servile, incomprehensible platitudes. In any case, it’s too late. I have offended the man who will be monitoring my life signs for the next 35 minutes and there is nothing I can do about it.
The mask descends.
LCA: Claire, you’re just going to have a nice, relaxing sleep.
Motto: Never, ever upset your anesthetist.
Alas, my elevation to wise crone is premature as I must return to have dental implants in four months and they look and function like normal teeth. Modified scientific equation: new teeth + grey hair = NQC (Not Quite Crone).
My implants will be inserted by aforementioned surgeon and my life signs monitored by his loyal sidekick. Yes, you guessed it, Chirpy Anesthetist.
Maybe he’ll be divorced by then.