Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I'll Floss, I Promise

I've never liked dentists. We started out on the wrong foot from a young age. But that's not really what this post is about.

Our dentist's office happens to be three blocks south of our house, on the main street of our town. It's in a one story, brick building that was constructed in the mid-eighties. It has a great roof of concrete shingles and seamless gutters (I notice these things now). Across the street is a small, local mechanic (our mechanic), a real estate office and a large, empty corner lot. Next to the dentist's office are the beginnings of residential housing that line the rest of main street.

I went through the standard procedure of a dentist's visit (x-rays and cursory dentist inspection) before I was finally shipped off to a separate room for cleaning. The woman who cleaned my teeth was in her mid to late fifties and had lived in our town her entire life. And she was absolutely fantastic.

Anyone who has been to the dentist knows that it is almost impossible to carry on a conversation while having your teeth cleaned. The good hygienists in the world understand that going to the dentist is like going to a psychiatrist in reverse - they talk and you listen, all while you lie down. Her monologue was mostly confined to Brett Favre and his hometown of Kiln, Mississippi. Typically this would have bored me to tears, but I guess after 36 years of cleaning mouths and performing hours of one-way conversations, she had found ways to engage her captive audience.

Naturally, she got to talking about our town, and through my occasional grunt and head nod, I was able to communicate that we'd only been here two years. She talked about the slow decline the town had seen over the last few decades. The closure of the city swimming pool and ice rink; the migration of downtown businesses out into malls and business parks; the bars that went out of business; the local hardware store that now sits empty; the motel that burned down; and of course the closure of the local factory by our house. It was sad to hear the resignation in her voice to the inevitable failure of our downtown. Its not what she wanted for our town, but I don't think she could see a way to stop our town from turning into just another soulless suburb.

She asked where I lived and I mentioned the neighborhood without explicitly telling her we lived in the House of 42 Doors. We talked about the neighborhood and the Halloween Haunted Woods there (more about that in another post). Then she said, "And then you have the ______ House there," referring to our house by the last name of the previous owners. At that, I let the cat out of the bag and indicated we had bought the place.

I never know what I'm going to get when I tell people that. Thankfully she was one of the people who thought the house was worth saving and that the house had little, if anything, to do with the factory closing. She's not the first to have told me that the factory would have probably closed one way or another. She said she was very glad the previous owner fought so hard to save the house and the entire neighborhood. Of course I invited her to walk down some time and say hi. We'd be happy to show her around.

And she jokingly replied that she would have to make a house call. Then her demeanor changed ever so slightly, "To make sure you are flossing more."

Ok. Ok. I get the message.

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