my mouth wide open.
And that I will never have to do it again is a hope that I am against
Because some tortures are physical and some are mental,
But the one that is both is dental.
It is hard to be self-possessed
With your jaw digging into your chest.
So hard to retain your calm
When your fingernails are making serious alterations in your life line
or love line or some other important line in your palm;
So hard to give your usual effect of cheery benignity
When you know your position is one of the two or three in life
most lacking in dignity.
And your mouth is like a section of road that is being worked on.
And it is all cluttered up with stone crushers and concrete mixers and
drills and steam rollers and there isn't a nerve in your head that
you aren't being irked on.
Oh, some people are unfortunate enough to be strung up by thumbs.
And others have things done to their gums,
And your teeth are supposed to be being polished,
But you have reason to believe they are being demolished.
And the circumstance that adds most to your terror
Is that it's all done with a mirror,
Because the dentist may be a bear, or as the Romans used to say, only
they were referring to a feminine bear when they said it, an ursa,
But all the same how can you be sure when he takes his crowbar in one
hand and mirror in the other he won't get mixed up, the way you
do when you try to tie a bow tie with the aid of a mirror, and forget
that left is right and vice versa?
And then at last he says That will be all; but it isn't because he then
coats your mouth from cellar to roof
With something that I suspect is generally used to put a shine on a
And you totter to your feet and think. Well it's all over now and after
all it was only this once.
And he says come back in three monce.
And this, O Fate, is I think the most vicious circle that thou ever sentest,
That Man has to go continually to the dentist to keep his teeth in good
condition when the chief reason he wants his teeth in good condition
is so that he won't have to go to the dentist.