Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Nothing but the Tooth -- Jay

When my wife tells people I write books for children, two things happen. One, they look at me with an “Isn’t that cute?” look in their eyes. Two, my wife grips my hand because she knows what their follow-up question will be and she doesn’t want me running away.

But you can’t run away from a dentist’s chair.

I hate pain. More specifically, I hate the thought of pain. And that fear is what kept me away from dentists for longer than I’m willing to admit. But after years of badgering, I finally gave in to my wife and made an appointment. At the bottom of the paperwork was the question “How apprehensive are you about dental visits?” and I circled “Extremely” because they didn’t offer anything beyond that. After calling me in and sitting me down, the dentist picked up a sharp metal object, aimed it at my mouth, and started small talking to put me at ease. “So, what do you do for fun?”

“I write children’s books,” I said. D’oh!

He lowered the spear into my mouth. Poke! “Do you do your own illustrations?”

I shook my head as little as possible.

The assistant chimed in. “Do you have any children?”

“Uh-uh,” I said, my mouth wide open.

“What? You write books for children but you don’t have any children?”


“You know, I wrote a children’s book once,” the dentist said. Poke!

I tried my best to smile, but with a mouth full of rubber gloves, sharp metal, and a mini-dust buster, I’m sure the smile looked about as authentic as when I normally hear those words.

“It’s a cute little story about dental equipment,” he said.

“Ow,” I said. But he must’ve thought I said, “Oh?”

“Yep. The tools could talk to each other,” he continued.


“And it rhymed.”


“And my friend illustrated it.”

Tears formed at my eyes, which they obviously expected because I’d circled “Extremely” on my paperwork.

“If you want,” he said, jabbing the metal stick back and forth against my gums, “I can give you his e-mail. Maybe he can illustrate your book.”

“My book is for teens!” I wanted to yell. “It’s about suicide. How would he feel about illustrating that!” But I just sat there and listened and tried not to make him angry.

When I got home, my wife was so proud of me for going through with the check-up. “See,” she said, “I didn’t even need to hold your hand.”

- Jay


Kim said...

Oh, that had to be the worst. Listening to him go on and on with his hands in your mouth. Why do dentists jabber while they have their hands in your mouth anyway?

I'm glad you survived. I'm afraid I'll need the happy gas next time I go in. I had a very bad experience with a crown a few weeks ago. Apparently, the first choice pain killer no longer works on me.

Disco Mermaids said...

Oh, I love that story. Tell it again!
Strangely enough, my hairstylist and my chiropractor have written children's books too!
Maybe their hands talk to each other?

Rita Crayon Huang said...

Fantastic story!

Once, I went to an eye doctor who found out I was a writer, dilated my eyes, then began yelling about what a crazy life choice I had made, just like his new son-in-law. I ... just had to take it.

Hi, Jay and Robin and Eve!
I really enjoyed meeting you at the conference!!

Debby G. said...

Let me guess: It's called "Darling Danny Drill."

The lady at my kids' orthodontist-- probably having written in their file to be nice to the mom who writes children's books because her kids' bad teeth just paid for her boss's new Porsche-- just told me last week she'd bought a bunch of my children's books at the bookstore this summer.

So I screamed, "You horrible lying witch! I only have one book out, and it's for teens, and it came out last year so it's no longer in bookstores! Get your filthy hands out of my children's mouths!"

Okay, I just screamed that in my head, but, still.

saraclaradara said...

OMG! It must have been like being trapped in a a "What NOT to do" session from an SCBWI conference.

I have to have my first filling since I was in college in two weeks time, and I'm completely bummed out that they don't give you goofy gas anymore.

annie said...

Hilarious! I saw you guys speak at Lisa Yee's workshop on blogging, you all were great.

In any case, I'm dealing with a husband who's giving me crazy book ideas nonstop. ( I made the mistake of sharing my ideas with him prematurely). I hope it is just a phase.

Disco Mermaids said...

Is it wrong to find so much joy and comfort in the fact that you've all had similar experiences?

And it's wonderful to hear that so many of you enjoyed the blogging workshop. Too bad I don't remember any of you being there. When I'm nervous, I completely block anything that I've recently said or seen from my memory. Thankfully, based on what Robin and Eve told me, I didn't make say anything too ridiculous. (Though they could be just saying that to make me feel good.)

- Jay

SilberBook-Blog said...

Here's the kicker: my kid has written a kid's book. We're waiting for the lizard and cat to finish proofreading theirs - but so far the illustrations are awesome!

Hope your teeth are happy!


Disco Mermaids said...


Aside from Alan, I just noticed that all your comments are from cute girls. Hmm...Shall we call you LL Cool J from now on?

D'oh! There it is. It's already stuck. New nickname alert!!


Lisa Yee said...

Hey Mermaids,

I tagged you at my LJ blog www.livejournal.com/users/lisayee for a memememeemememeemmeme

Gregory K. said...

A friend of mine was renewing her driver's license at the DMV, answered "producer" to a question about job while chatting with the DMV employee, and he pulled TWO screenplays out from behind the counter and gave them to her. Yikes.

Nice Marathon Man imagery, btw.


Another Cute Girl

Rita Crayon Huang said...

Re: the blogging workshop—

Um. From what I observed Friday night, it doesn't seem like Robin and Eve would spare you—if they could have found anything to torment you about.

I think you're in the clear. :D