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The Hawk's Nest

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Going for the Gold

I didn’t want to get up early enough to make it to the dentist the first thing on a Monday morning, but Linda, my wife, wouldn’t let me sleep any longer. She insisted I take a shower and shave, since people would be working so close.

I thought about trying to cancel the appointment but my lovely wife reminded me that the temporary crown I had in my mouth was starting to cause some discomfort. While I lay there wanting more sleep, it wasn’t bothering me at all, so what was the problem?

Finally, her persistence made it obvious I wasn’t going back to sleep anyway so I got up and poured a cup of coffee. In that early hour, I had forgotten about the toothache, but some hot coffee reminded me and helped with the waking up process before I even swallowed. The last tooth on the bottom left fired a pain into my head telling me it was time to “go for the gold” crown. I know there is a more correct name than “last tooth on the bottom left” but this way everyone reading will know just what tooth I’m talking about, not just the dentists. Besides, I don’t know the real name.

I had some cereal, without nuts, and toast. It’s amazing - until a few weeks ago I didn’t know I had that tooth but since the crack appeared, food always goes there first upon entering my mouth, especially if it is hot, cold, sweet or hard.

In the car for the forty-five minute drive I took another swig of coffee just as I hit a bump and the boiling drink splashed onto that crown; this time I was glad I was going for the gold.

I was the first patient in the office and therefore received a lot of attention. It really isn’t so bad having several cute ladies fawning over me, making me comfortable, wanting to get real close, I thought.

After some preparation, one of them started to work getting the temporary off and cleaning the incisor, or whatever it is called. She said, “You look pretty tough. I bet you don’t need a shot for pain, do you?” Well, how could I disagree with that? So I winced out a squeaky “nooooo.” I also failed to remind her that I have a very sensitive gag reflex and to expect some choking action.

So she started scrubbing on the cracked grinder, attached to my jaw, with something that felt like the grinder in my shop. I never thought the two grinders would ever meet.

She would say “you’re doing great,” “wow, you are a perfect patient to start a new week.” What could I say? She had both hands in my mouth and someone else kept handing her iron tools to shove down my throat. I was proud I hadn’t retched yet.

Then the moment arrived and the new gold crown appeared. I have never wanted gold in my mouth - it looks rather gaudy - but they said “that far back, it will never be seen and wears better than porcelain.”

Now, I had assumed delivery of the royal element, molded precisely to fit my chewing pleasure, would include an assembly of black suited guards surrounding a maiden carrying a silk pillow with the glowing tooth setting delicately in the center. A shine would wash the room with the radiant yellow glow of the golden crown.

But that’s not what happened. The attendant said “here” and the crown passed from one to the other and into my mouth.

“Ah, a perfect fit,” I heard. “I just need to adjust it a little.” She went back in. This time there was a minor gag right after work had resumed. She quickly sat me up.

“Oh, it’s okay. I do that sometimes. It’s over, we can go on now,” I said.

Then I looked at her. Well I looked at her eyes, because that was all I could see. I didn’t know human eyes could get that big. Those huge brown eyes stared from behind the safety glasses and over a light blue mask for, it seemed like, an age. Then from behind the mask came an anxious voice.

“You didn’t swallow it did you?”

I did a quick inventory of what I was feeling. Deep in my throat was that slightly scratchy feeling you get when you need a swallow of beer to wash down that last piece of potato chip.

Suddenly the professional calm of the place got a bit frantic. Someone came in and asked if I still felt like I was choking. “No.”

Someone else came in and asked if I thought it went into my lungs. One more time in my life, I was glad I didn’t inhale.

I was handed a glass of water. The dentist said it wouldn’t hurt me and will pass unnoticed. Then he said, “If you find it we can run it through the sterilizer and it will be just fine.”

“I don’t think so,” came out of my mouth without any thought.

In a few minutes things got back to normal; they readied the cracked stub in the back of my mouth for another temporary crown. What didn’t feel normal was knowing I had gold in my stomach. I didn’t feel anything but it felt weird to know a piece of precious metal was floating around with cereal, toast and coffee inside me.

After everyone was done and the remains of the molar, or whatever, once again had a short-term covering, I left the office just as I had walked in, except for a funny feeling in my gut.

The next day when I entered the bathroom I thought, “This really gives new meaning to ‘going for the gold’.” But, after a week without finding the mother lode I decided to quit looking.

Today, Linda told me she was getting tired of listening to me talk about “gold in my gullet.” Then added, “Even with gold, it still stinks.”

“Like roses,” I retorted.

Making a face she said that since the gold was never found she was going to make sure I get an autopsy.

What she didn’t say was how soon.

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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