Surrealist Doodle

Surrealist Doodle
This was used as the cover of Karawane in 2006 and I have included it in on a number of bags and postcards over the years. Someone on the subway asked me if it was a Miro. I was very flattered!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dentists I Have Known (and maybe inspired?)

I love my dentist. My mother was terrified of dentists and she usually had to be dragged to the dentist in pain and be knocked out in order to survive the trip. I love all dentists because, for the most part, a dentist can't kill you accidentally. They have to try. As far as doctors go, I tell people four words: Andy Warhol. Routine appendectomy.

My current dentist reminds me of George Takei, for his sense of humor as well as his looks. George Takei's witty posts on Facebook are now legendary and my dentist keeps me laughing as well. Even when I am sitting in the chair with him working on my teeth.

I recently gave him and his assistant a bunch of my postcards with my artwork, photography, and my poetry on them. While I was waiting for the novocaine to kick in, he started looking at my Surrealistic drawings trying to find recognizable shapes and faces in them, and reading my poetry, Then he started "riffing" himself, coming up with dental-inspired lines I could use in my poetry. This is exactly what Helena Lewis describes in the book Dada Turns Red, which I often reference, and what I am trying to do with my poetry every single day of my life.

The Surrealists, she writes, held the "belief that talent is irrelevant and that everyone has creative potential in their unconscious" (173). I don't want anyone to see that writing is something mysterious that only some people have a talent for. I think that my dentist is very creative, whether he has been encouraged to express that or not.

I have also regaled him with stories of previous dentists, including a discount dentist that I went to in the Quad Cities about 25 years ago. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and sang very loudly to his muzak. "I just called/to say/I love YOOOUUU." When he came at me to pull my back tooth with a giant pair of what looked to be pliers, I remember thinking, "Is that axle grease on those pliers?" He also -- and as Dave Barry would say, we are not making this up -- he put his foot on the chair for leverage to yank out my tooth. Later, the chair became my face as I told the story. That part I made up.

Needless to say, it was a while before I ever went back to the dentist. But that could also be because you almost never used to get dental insurance unless you had a pretty good job, which I rarely did. At least not the kind of job that provided me with ANY kind of insurance at all.

I still think insurance is a poor reason to work a job that you don't really want to work. I will carry that to my grave with me, bad teeth and all.

I had another dentist, which I haven't talked about with my current dentist (let's call him Dr. Sulu, after George Takei's character on Star Trek), but whom I think about every time I sit in THE CHAIR (again, with props to my mom). This dentist was chosen because his office was not even a block from my apartment in Minneapolis. He was 70 if he was a day. And although it might be perfectly innocent dentist banter, he would often talk about my tongue. "You have a good strong tongue there," and "tongue wants to see what is going on." It was creepy. And frankly, none of my other dentists have ever talked that way.

After that, I would just go to the free clinic to get my teeth pulled. (Until the dreaded Obamacare, which fascistically provided me with both medical and dental insurance. How dare he!)

I had another dentist in Minneapolis who was really nice to me, didn't rag me about the condition of my teeth, and fixed them up before I left town, although there are visible seems where the fillings are. Dr. Sulu will need to repair those, hopefully.

Dr. Sulu has been quite interested in what I do, the readings that I go to in Chicago, the open mic that I hold at the laundromat, about my thesis topic, etc. I hope that in some small way I have inspired him, made him smile, with both my stories/tales and with my poetry and art work, just as he has contributed to my life by giving me back my smile.

(Come on, you saw that ending coming, didn't you!?)

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