Social smile

„If it hurts so much, then why are you smiling?“

Says the receptionist at the Public Healthcare registration office and looks at me in disbelief.  Apparently, even having to register for an emergency dentist appointment requires some “I’m in pain” acting.

„I smile because the emotional pain I am going through finally has a physical form of expression. It’s liberating.”

I wanna give her an elaborate answer, followed by a lecture on how energy transforms into matter, but I don‘t think she would appreciate the explanation. It sounds too much like a badly written joke. And, I guess, you shouldn‘t try joking with people who have the power to heal your pain. Even if it‘s only a tooth-ache… And so I shrug in a confused „I have no idea why I‘m smiling“ expression and she gets on with her paperwork.

„In a scale from 1 to 10, how much does it hurt?“ – she continues evaluating my „performance“ .

„Seven“ – I say, trying to sound like I really know what I’m talking about, though this fucking pain now actually feels like at least 11.

She sends me off to a “number-seven-type-of-pain” dentist and, as I sit there waiting for somebody to turn up, I get more and more convinced that this stupid tooth-ache didn’t appear for no reason. That it’s really there to remind me of the discomforting sense of reality that I finally have to deal with – that it screams for me to connect with the world which, for the past few weeks, I was trying to ignore.

Wonderful. I‘m connected with the world through a goddamn tooth-ache.

“Does this hurt?” – asks the lady who’s now placed some metal instrument in my mouth and seems to be having a passive aggressive attack on my teeth.

“Aha” – I whimper in response.

“This one?” – she sends another wave of acute pain that makes my muscles tense and finally takes that thing (whatever it’s called…) out of my mouth.

“Yeah… we can’t do anything” – she adds.

“What do you mean?” – I get totally thrown off, coz, in my view, dentists must always ALWAYS have a solution.

“We’ll make a scan, but it’s probably an inflammation. It just needs time to heal.”

Now I look at her in disbelief in the very same way the receptionist looked at me some half an hour ago. She suggests I take antibiotics and simply just wait. As if I haven’t had enough of waiting…

As I walk home, I swear I can hear my own heart-beat as, after this little dentist invasion, the throbbing pain only increases. So I sit down to write for writing seems to be the only available painkiller. I have used it for years. And, yet again, it does the trick.

“The fucking pain and the fucking waiting seem to be the only two things that follow me through life,” – I write down on a piece of paper. I start with the swear-words, of course, coz that’s where I can afford to be a drama queen – on paper.

“I hate you! And I hate to be left in this world, ‘coz it’s such a sad place without you.”

I continue scribbling things down and, though I’m deeply ashamed of the things that I write, the words just flow. And finally they come – the long awaited tears of grieving.

And despite the pain, despite the discomforting sense of reality, I feel alive. I feel like I’ve only just started breathing. And I think to myself : “The receptionist was right – you should never smile when you are aching.”




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