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Scraping barnacles at the dentist with Captain Hook

Speaking of teeth. I could tell Haley was smiling behind her mask. Her eyes crinkled in a warm welcome, but I couldn’t see her sweating in anticipation of the job that yawned before her.

I entered the Shady Cove Family Dental office full of smug self-assuredness. Hadn’t I flossed and brushed faithfully every day since our last showdown six months ago? And avoided peanut brittle and hard tack?

Sure, I have more shelving, niches and cupolas in my mouth than some people do. They’re pricey after-market add-ons. Working on me is always an adventure through hidden doorways.

Another woman had settled into the room next door for her cleaning. My mouth contained a central vacuum system and Haley’s mitts full of rakes and hoes. But this woman kept talking and carrying on a perfectly coherent conversation with her hygienist. Some women are really practiced.

I mumbled to Haley something like, “In’t se get hr teesh clea, to?” Translation, “Isn’t she getting her teeth cleaned, also?” Haley nodded, chuckled, and kept at her task. By now she’d donned her welder’s helmet and gloves, and I remained calm.

Mostly, I keep my eyes closed during the procedure, even while wearing glasses, because of flying shrapnel and to avoid a blinding from the miner’s light on her headpiece that’s bright enough to light every stalagmite in the Oregon Caves and their cousins. Sometimes I peek out just to see if anything has hit the fan, or the skylight, or the lady next door. Once when I looked, I saw an implement bobbing near that put me in mind of Captain Hook’s namesake appendage.

After about 45 minutes, I wondered if the scraping would end and if she had as yet reached my tonsils. Maybe she could remove them while she was at it. I do maintain three of four wisdom teeth. I’m one tooth shy of a load. Having three large molars so far back that I could chew with my ears gives definition to the old “three’s a crowd” cliché.

I’m glad Haley’s thorough and intrepid. She suggested I invest in an electric toothbrush, not because I don’t do a good job, but because they’re great for reaching into those hidden passageways.

Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I finished passing the time eavesdropping on the next-door neighbor and learned a lot about her family. She seemed nice, like we could be friends, except she liked country music and would beat me in conversation every time. I wished I was able to enunciate with my mouth full of digits and gadgetry like she could. She might have taken elocution lessons — the kind where they put marbles in your mouth and make you recite tongue twisters. I might have heard her hygienist’s eyes roll a couple times.

I had such an amazing time that I raced to schedule another barnacle scraping in six months.

And now, for one of those rare but inescapable marketing plugs before they yank mine. Mother’s Day, Hawaiian Lei Day and Oyster Day are all coming up soon. What better gift to share while doing the hula than a local author’s book. I’ve cut prices for paperback and e-book versions of “Trips & Tangents: 101 Favorite Southern Oregon Journal Columns” and my post-WWII novel, “Stone Revival,” set in Northern England. They’re available through Amazon or message me on Facebook for a signed copy. Load up the Studebaker and distribute at will.

Stay tuned until next week when we shed the mundane for an adventure aboard the Coast Starlight, train No. 14.

Peggy Dover is a train-loving author/freelance writer. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.