|I was assaulted by my dentist,|
The dentist's office is located in the garage of the dentist's house. Though the sign says he opens at 9 AM, it's near 10:30 when he cranks up the retractable door. “Un momento,” he says before disappearing. Thirty minutes later, he returns and points me into his rusty chair, for an examination with old unwashed tools more reminiscent of the carpentry channel than the surgery network.
|but my dentist didn't look like Jennifer Aniston,|
The loose stuff is scraped away. He reaches for a small, dense hammer to break apart the mass. Tap, tap, crack, keeeeerack! He grabs oversized pliers that could have been borrowed from a mechanic, except for the screw-down clamping mechanism. I taste blood. Women who find natural childbirth to be a novel spiritual experience, rather than simply the way most have done it throughout history, might want to check out Mexican dentistry for another all-natural life-affirming moment.
|or have tools this clean and sterile,|
The second retrieval is merely an exhausting repeat performance. However, the third is apparently the longest root he has ever encountered with virtually nothing to hold onto. Most of his pokes and prods miss the mark but jab closer and closer to my brain. I wince, tear up and clench my toes. When he does get a grip, he twists and pulls to the breaking point, indicated by horrible sounds that throb in my head. This goes on for about thirty minutes.
|or even tools this high-tech and modern,|
He says he's going to the pharmacy and dashes out. I wait without anxiety. Crisis is so routine in Mexico you become numb to it. By the time my mouth fills with blood, he returns. He does something with cotton balls. He does something else with brown putty. He nervously works for ten minutes with needle and thread. I am more or less immune. After you spend enough time here, tragedy doesn't appear horrifying or unjust. It seems damn likely. Things going smoothly without incident feel like a strange, undeserved favoritism from above. Life in Mexico administers a general anesthesia, so oral surgeons often need not.
|yet I did get a hole in my head at no extra charge.|
This post is an excerpt from the book Fresh Wind & Strange Fire: One Man's Adventures In Primal Mexico, coming soon to bookstores and online outlets.