Thursday, August 01, 2002

Back East I had a dentist who provided a Sony Walkman and cassette tapes to distract the patient during lengthy excavations. California, of course, has a more technologically advanced solution: phenomenonoscopes. These high-tech goggles act as a tiny personal theater, playing the movie only an inch or so from your eyes onto the twin lenses. You can watch and listen in perfect unconcern as the dentist rummages around in your mouth.

Before my recent root canal, my endodontist offered me a list of twenty or so movies in half a dozen categories, everything from Ghost to Con Air. (Not, I noticed, Marathon Man.) I chose Up Close and Personal, reasoning that I probably wouldn’t be there for the whole movie, so it was better to watch something that I had seen before. Also, I was hoping to see the Philadelphia footage. It’s pitiful when a Pennsylvanian is homesick even for Holmesburg Prison.

I went straight from the endodontist to my general dentist to have the dead tooth prepared for the crown. (Good idea: I didn’t have to be anesthetized twice.) Dr. Abdou doesn’t have the p-scopes, but he does keep a VCR in one of his treatment rooms. The first time I was there, he used it for strictly professional purposes. He took pictures of the inside of my mouth with a fiber-optic camera (looked like a brushed-steel pen, but gave off such a powerful light that my cheeks glowed like lampshades). Then he put my teeth on TV, and a more revolting sight I’ve rarely encountered.

This time, while I was getting fitted for the crown (and that’s probably the only kind I’ll ever have, thank God), though, he put on a movie. He chose Ghost, and I watched with a certain pathetic eagerness for the street scenes of NY. And in sorrow for the World Trade Center.

I’m homesick this week, partly because we’ve definitely decided that I can’t go home for my sister Lisa’s wedding in September. No time, no money. It’s a bad time to travel, with Michele’s contract just cut short.

That’s one factor. The other is that I got word last Friday that I’d been divorced for nine days and nobody had bothered to tell me about it. In fact, unless I send an SASE, the State of Virginia won’t even mail me copy of the divorce decree.

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