Opinion: Buddying up to my dentist


Do you know what reentry anxiety is? Mary Ellen read about this condition in the news and asked if I thought I might have it. She explained that many people are nervous about returning to normal behaviors after being quarantined for a year. How exactly does one behave in a post-pandemic world?

I Googled the issue to get more information. According to the first webpage I landed on, virtually all astronauts suffer from this. “Orbiting around the earth at 18,000 mph, astronauts have time to reflect on how they might soon burn up before reentering the earth’s atmosphere.” That sounds scarier than wondering if it’s safe to kiss your new bride or if it’s rude to slather on sanitizer immediately after you shake your new boss’s hand.

Next week, I plan to visit my dentist and my barber (two different people) for the first time in more than a year. I feel bad that it has been so long, and I don’t want to insult either one by acting inappropriately. Dr. Roberts has been very nice to me, even though I have passed out twice in his office. The first time, it was in the chair when I had a bad drug reaction, and then several years ago in the outer lobby when his receptionist showed me the bill for my root canal.

Buddy, my barber, also has been good to me. Through the years, he has successfully timed my haircuts to events on my calendar, like when I was making plans for my 50th high school reunion. I always look scalped right after a haircut and shaggy six weeks later, so we have to think way ahead and plan the visits. He did mess up the schedule once and I had to get two haircuts in the same week.

The truth is, it’s been so long since I have seen either Buddy or Dr. Roberts, I may be mixing up which is which (that’s not the truth, of course, but this is a humor column, so just play along).

For example, guess which one tilts me back in the chair and says, “This is not going to hurt.” That must be Buddy, because several years ago he accidentally jabbed my ear with the scissors and then promised he would never do it again.

Which visit is covered by insurance? That’s got to be the haircut. I remember my agent telling me I’d be covered for any loss. I assume that included my hair. And do I tip the barber or the dentist? I have no recollection of tipping my dentist, but I should. After 25 years with him, I still have all my teeth. My hair? Not so much. By the way, either Dr. Roberts or Buddy told me to remember to brush twice a day. I sure wish I could remember who it was.

One of them blathered for my entire last appointment about who he thought should be elected president last November. Mary Ellen always tells me that when it comes to politics to keep my trap shut. I always do that with Buddy, so I don’t get hair in my mouth. With Dr. Roberts, I have to keep it open, but I can’t be understood, anyway.

I see Buddy tomorrow. Rumor is that his prices have gone up. I hope he still takes major medical.


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