The dream is ridiculous. I’m walking through a forest with Ender and Flora—Cinder is around, but on the periphery of my dream and my awareness—and I can smell the moistness, freshness, aliveness of the air, and all is good, when suddenly—the whirr of a lawnmower. Not just any lawnmower—a power ride-on mower. You know, the kind of must feel like riding an ATV or something?
I hear it… and then I know IT IS COMING RIGHT FOR US.
And there it is. Possessed, like Christine.
For reasons that seem ridiculous to me even in the dream, we run on a large, clear, paved path that cuts through the forest. “We’ve got to get into the trees!” I tell the kids and try to pull them off the path. “But it’s easier to run on the asphalt!” whines Flora.
The lawn mower whirrs louder, comes closer.
They finally let me drag them into the woods… and then… we see the world’s largest anthill. It’s not an anthill—it’s an ant-Metropolis. Hills and hills and hills of pine needles. Becoming mounds that are larger than us—larger than the trees.
So of course that’s where we hide.
We crouch down in an enclave between the hills. And, we stay safe and hidden as the lawn mower powers past us.
The ants don’t bite.
Sitting in the curve of the anthill, I am aware I am dreaming. I am aware that hiding from a possessed lawnmower in a giant anthill in the middle of a forest through which cuts a perfectly straight paved path is kind of… ridiculous.
I wake up to the sound of a gas-powered leaf blower in the alley.
At least one mystery, explained.
We have health benefits again, and so—everyone gets to go to the dentist. We are… well, happy’s not the right word. Resigned? We know we gotta.
I schedule all the kids’ cleanings simultaneously, so that the dentist kills only one of our precious spring afternoons.
Cinder: Ugh. I hate the dentist. And you know what I hate the most? The lecture. “You need to brush more. You need to floss better. Blah blah blah.”
Flora is quick to agree.
Flora: I think of myself as a pretty truthful person. But that all goes out the window as soon as I go to the dentist. “Yes, I brush six times a day. Yes, I floss after every meal. Sometimes in-between, just for fun. No, I never ever eat candy or drink pop.”
Ender curls into a fetal ball and cries and refuses to get into the car. I want to curl up into a fetal ball and cry with him. Instead, I cajole.
When we get home, Flora unloads 17 packets of floss from her pockets.
Jane: What the hell?
Flora: See? It starts with a lie. I lie to the dental hygienist, and then I steal the floss. When I become a criminal mastermind, you will know it’s all the dentist’s fault.
I laugh. Although I also kind of want to curl up into a fetal ball and cry.
I hate going to the dentist.
In something I’m writing, there is this phrase… “as I walk into the door.” It takes me about ten minutes of staring at it to realize that should be “as I walk through the door.”
Then I spend twenty minutes pondering if what I meant was “as I walk into the door”… what was I thinking? Was the door closed? Did I smack my face into it? Is that what walking into a door means? “I walk in a door.” “I walk into a door.” “I walk through a door.”
Flora: It’s supposed to me “I walk through the door.”
Jane: You sure?
I think she’s right. Except that I feel as though I walked into the door. My entire face hurts.
I suppose being a responsible adult involves going to the dentist regularly regardless of how little you like it.
But you know… being an adult also involves deciding that you’re not going to be treated like a helpless child when you sit down in that chair.
Dental hygienist: So, do you have any concerns?
Jane: Yes. I’ve been able to vote for more than two decades now. I have three children and an assortment of degrees. I’m, generally speaking, a competent and accomplished person. And I am never, ever, ever going to get any better at my dental hygiene. I will not brush my back teeth more thoroughly. I will not master whatever up-down-circular-left right thing you want to show me this year. I will not floss more regularly or more aggressively. I will do what I’ve always done, and I’ll come back here next time with the same load of plaque and tartar on my teeth. And what I want you to do is clean it off without lecturing me or talking to me as if I’m a simple-minded idiot who doesn’t know how to use a toothbrush. Are we cool with that?
Dental hygienist: …
Jane: You can talk. I just don’t want to be told that I’m brushing my teeth wrong. K?
Dental hygienist: K.
Except for the part where she cried, that went pretty well.
The worst part of going to the dentist—even worse than the lecture and the nurturing of one’s inner liar (“Yes, I floss after every meal!”)—is the sounds.
The drill. The polishing toothbrush. All of it. Awful.
My soon-to-be-made fortune to the person who invents silent dental tools.
Seriously. How hard can that be? Get on it. You WILL make a fortune, even if I don’t.
And after you do that—the silent lawnmower and the silent leaf blower.
In the meantime… if you own a not-so-silent one and live in my neighbourhood? Could you please, please, please NOT operate it at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning?
Please and thank you.