By Paul Lester
October 28, 2008
It was while I was sitting in the dentist's chair yesterday afternoon, having emergency treatment for an infected nerve, heavily sedated but still sufficiently compos mentis to feel the miniature pneumatic drill laying waste to my periodontal ligament, that I realised it's nice, at times of crisis, to have a woman around. Any woman. Unfortunately, there were only two ladies in the dentist's operating chamber (that's not the technical term, by the way, it just sounds appropriately brutal and unpleasant), and they were the dentist herself, plus her female assistant - three if you count the big girl's blouse in the chair. As the pain increased - no, intensified, because it sounds more serious - and visions of Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man appeared in my fevered brain, I had just one inclination: to hold somebody's hand (two, actually, the other being to shout, "Yes, it's safe!" really loud at various points of the procedure). And because my mummy was busy doing Jewish-mother things at the time, like making kneidlach and kvelling over my latest column in the JC in a town far, far away (St Albans), there was only one thing for it: I had to grab hold of the dental assistant's hand. Really hard. How hard? Put it this way: I squeezed it white, until it looked like one of those gloves that posh ladies, or butlers, used to wear. Meanwhile the dentist began treating the inside of my mouth like an amusement park. Is this weird? Have you ever squeezed a dental assistant's hand? Anyone's hand? I wonder if it's illegal. Certainly if you approached a total stranger in a park and began squidging parts of their body, they'd have good reason to get you locked up. Hmmm. Hope she doesn't sue. If you're reading this, miss, I sincerely apologise, and by way of consolation, feel absolutely free to squeeze my hand anytime, although probably best not to do it while I'm driving.