The Sloth Diaries: Dental Floss
Last week, whilst enjoying a delicious Belgian chocolate, the Sloth was suddenly struck down with a raging toothache. Unless one is incredibly lucky and has the genetic disposition of glowing , pink healthy gums and gleaming white teeth, as we age our teeth have no choice but to decay and fall out!! After evenings sitting on the terrace with friends drinking copious amounts of wine to anaesthetize the pain ( well, that was the excuse given) . There was nothing else for it but to pay a visit to the dentist. Here in Wales there is a shortage of NHS dentists and good ones exact huge sums for their handiwork. A good dentist is hard to find since Margaret Thatcher encouraged dentists to opt out of the NHS by reducing their subsidies and skilled dentists are almost non-exsistent. You’d have to take out a second mortgage to pay for private dentistry. I suppose that’s exactly what the Americans do! Anyway, I finally took pity on the Sloth and made him an appointment.
The day dawned bright and sunny. The Magpies woke us, chattering loudly in the apple trees. Strangely enough, the Sloth’s toothache had disappeared. ‘I don’t think I need to go now’ he said lamely. Well, I wasn’t going to let him get away with that. The tooth needed attention. Besides, I needed a good night’s sleep. After all, no one likes going to to the dentists other than those afflicted with a generous dose of sado masochism. They seem to me to be an acceptable and legitmate form of torture chambers! The dentist’s surgery was in a large Victorian villa painted white with bay fronted windows and pink and blue hydrangeas that nodded their heavy heads over the wall. It looked innocuous enough. We went into the little waiting room with its potted palm and TV in the corner and sat down. Untidy piles of dogeared magazines littered the coffee table. The highpitched wine of the drill rent the air, more dangerous than any mosquito and we both shuddered. Remember ‘ Marathon Man?’ Finally the dental nurse came out of the treatment room and called the Sloth. He shuffled forward reluctantly and went in. The nurse gave me a weak smile and closed the door firmly.
I picked up a magazine and immediately became engrossed in an article about cosmetic surgery. As I flipped over the pages I came upon a graphic description of a facelift complete with close up photos of the surgeon’s knife cutting round the face until it was loose then pulling it up towards the hairline. I stared in horrified fascination. Then the wound was stitched up neatly leaving the recipient looking like a contestant auditioning for Frankenstein! Why oh Why would anyone ever want to do that I wondered! Then before I could go on to the next article the treatment door was flung open and the Sloth staggered out, ashen faced and holding his jaw and sat down with a jolt next to me. The dental nurse bent over him , ‘Just wait here until Mr Pullitov calls you’. The Sloth nodded dumbly.
‘What’s happened?’ I asked.
‘The bloody needle broke and he’s got to start again . So I’ve got to wait now’
Poor Sloth. The door opened once more and a man staggered out holding a bloodstained cloth to his mouth with a trembling hand. We tried not to stare. The sloth was called again and disappeared into the the treatment room. After a while a commotion was heard coming from the room. Suddenly the door was flung open wide and a strangely surreal tableau was enacted before me. The sloth’s head was held back by the nurse while the dentist with his foot on the chair the better to brace himself for the final pull was tugging with all his might and uttering words in a langage that was totally unfamiliar to us. With his rolled up sleeves and his face scarlet with exertion the dentist looked more like a vet attending the difficult birth of a calf! The sloth and Mr Pullitov see -sawed back and forth until finally both men yelled, the sloth in agony and the dentist in triumph, as he staggered back and collapsed on the floor holding the offending tooth victoriously aloft. Before he left, Mr Pullitov proudly presented the sloth with a trophy. The extracted tooth encased in a tiny envelope. The Sloth gave him a bloodied grin and shook his hand to show no hard feelings and clinging to my arm we lurched out of the dentist’s surgery like a couple of drunks!!.