“It’s simple,” he said. “I’m going to slice open your gums, cut your four wisdom teeth in half and then pull them out in pieces. Nice and easy.”
Nice? EASY? How DARE he use that nonchalant tone with me! I thought. Didn’t he care that the anaesthetic might fail? He was totally unphased. I was totally not.
He scribbled some illegible words and ticked a few boxes on my patient forms. Tracing his pen down the page, he stopped and smiled. “Oh! You’re a writer?” he remarked, eyes suddenly wide and excited.
“Yeah I, uh—I am . . . ?” I replied unconfidently, totally sidelined by his sudden enthusiasm. I never know what to write when medical forms ask you for your occupation. Writer? Journalist? Artist? Professional email-er? “But my job is pretty varied most days . . .” I added, trying to hide a bad case of imposter syndrome.
The dentist spun around in his chair and rummaged through his filing cabinet. “Have you published any books?” he asked excitedly, looking over his shoulder.
“No, no books yet,” I laughed. “But I’ve published a lot of articles on faith, and I write a lot of news stories.”
“Oh that’s fantastic!” he said. “I wish I’d been your age when I was first published. But I’ve written a few books now, as you can see!”
Thud. A pile of books landed on the desk in front of me. One looked like an encyclopedia, the other four like novels. I was surprised.
“Have a look! Flip through!” he encouraged me. In the space of 30 seconds, my nonchalant dentist had become a little boy in a candy store.
“Oh, thanks!” I said, looking through the big one first—a light blue hard-cover with hundreds of pages, filled top to bottom with diagrams of what looked like war medals. My mouth hung agape, a side-effect of a reaction somewhere between fascination and shock.