2 weeks ago

JAVA March 2018


GIRL ON FARMER By Celia Beresford I suspected there was trouble brewing when roomtemperature water induced a sharp pain. Next, the pressure of chewing plain bread was the culprit. When my ears started hurting, I really got scared, so decided the best plan of action was to ignore the pain with even more commitment. I would not let this tooth throb get the best of me. For the past few years I’ve been able to ride out the pain, proving to my teeth that I was tougher than them. Next thing I knew, the jabs of pain extended to my head and neck. My teeth were really fighting dirty now, forcing me to go to the dentist to make sure I didn’t have some sort of brain tumor. I’ve tried reasoning with my teeth. I remind them of all the brushing I’ve done – even when I was really tired. But they ignore me and persist in throbbing. Considering all that I’ve done for them, I think it’s rude that they don’t have more respect for me and instead treat me like some kind of joke. I’ve been trying to figure out when my paralyzing fear of going to the dentist began. Back in the days of my early dental care, I was very good. My parents made sure I brushed my teeth regularly and got them cleaned every six months. I actually enjoyed going to my dentist, Dr. Berkowitz and his assistant Mimi. If you were good you got some gold coins with big smiley faces on them that you could use to purchase goods from the treasure box. And this was a real treasure box made of wood and shiny gold bolts. I can’t even remember what sort of crap was in it, but trading gold coins for a pull from the treasure box was well worth the vomit-inducing bubble-gumfl avored fluoride treatment I was subjected to. I can still feel the foam tooth trays, filled to the brim with thick, liquid-y fluoride adhering to my teeth and dripping down my throat. Once the treasure chest lost its appeal, I had nitrous oxide to look forward to. My parents were not the nitrous type. My dad, the ex-Marine and North Jersey guy, liked to tough things out. My mom, for some reason I can’t understand, didn’t like to partake in anything that altered her state of being. I didn’t hear about nitrous even being available at a dentist until I was already in high school, which I guess is a good idea and what happens in normal families. Of course, 38 JAVA MAGAZINE

With the absence of the laughing gas, things went downhill. I grabbed the edges of the chair as if holding on for my life and clenched my butt cheeks together so tightly it felt like what I imagine a day at the gym is like. the friend who told me about it had a mom who had a lot of mysterious aches and pains that required painkillers and a gigantic waterbed. So, it’s not a shocker in retrospect that she was the one with the nitrous reveal. She lived about a block away from my dentist, and when I stopped by on my way to an appointment, complaining about the inevitable five or more fillings ahead of me, she was like, “Why don’t you just ask for the laughing gas?” My look of confusion, and possibly lack of excitement that the mention of laughing gas should induce, led her to explain this medical miracle to me. The irresistible laughter, the ability to mumble stories and visit fairy lands all while having a needle-pointed drill working away at your teeth: what’s not to love about that? When my 13-year-old ass walked into Dr. Berkowitz and demanded some laughing gas –thinking I had discovered a secret – they were like, sure. I spent the rest of my visit either laughing or thinking that I was telling incredibly interesting and funny stories while my mouth was propped open like a car hood. It was after that visit that I decided I had really been short-changed all these years by the treasure chest. Once I had to start paying for my own dental appointments, the carefree days of the laughing gas seemed to be nothing more than a dream. I could hardly pay for toothpaste, let alone the extra dough I had to shell out for nitrous. I went to the dentist only when a tooth was actually falling out and Krazy Glue could no longer hold it in. This is when I met my current dentist. With the absence of the laughing gas, things went downhill. I grabbed the edges of the chair as if holding on for my life and clenched my butt cheeks together so tightly it felt like what I imagine a day at the gym is like. The hygienist mentioned nitrous, but I said I didn’t have it in my budget. She gave me lavender-scented eye pillows and earplugs, but still, I could not relax. I left a sweat stain in the chair. Now my teeth are acting up again, but I am in a better place financially. I can buy toothpaste all day long (it’s the floss I skimp on). Although I am terrified to make an appointment, I think it’s time. I could probably tolerate the aches and pains for another few days, but now things have escalated to an eye twitch. Vanity has superseded pain, and now that I look like a twitchy-eyed freak, instead of just feeling like one each time air makes contact with my teeth, it’s time to make an appointment. But I have a plan. I will stomp into that office and demand laughing gas. I will ask for a direct line to that gas tank on a rolling cart, the way they give oxygen to emphysema patients. At that point I won’t care about the pain, potential brain tumors or even an eye twitch. In fact, I’m pretty sure once the gas kicks in, it will all seem like one big joke.

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