Benny Jay: Chocolate Milk

May 9th, 2010

At nine in the morning I’m sitting in a dentist’s chair waiting for Tony, the world’s greatest hygienist, to start cleaning my teeth.

“Any problems?” he asks, as he pokes around my mouth.

Oh, my God — where to start?

“Ugh, well — I got this crevice in the back…”

“A what?” he asks.

“A crevice….”

“A crevice?”

“Yeah, you know, a space between my teeth where the food catches….”

“Oh, a food trap….”

He laughs.

“A food trap?” I say. “That’s what it’s called?”

“Well, that’s not a scientific term, that’s just what I call it….”

I want to talk but I can’t cause he has my mouth open while he scrapes away. But as soon as he stops, I start in:  “Well, it’s a perfect term for it cause that’s what happens. You get a piece of food trapped there and it’s like an itch you can’t scratch. I’m flossing like a lunatic – I even carry dental floss in my fanny pack…”

He steps back to look at me. “You’re kidding me….”

I’m surprised that he’s surprised — am I even weirder than I know I am? — but I’m not sure what surprises him more: That I carry dental floss in my fanny pack or that I have a fanny pack at all.

I open my fanny pack and show him the dental floss. “Just in case of emergencies,” I tell him.

Then I drop my voice: “But, let’s just keep this between us….”

He takes an X-ray of my mouth and then gasps at the image, like he’s seen some unspeakable horror.

“What is it?” I ask. “Is it the food trap?”

“No, it’s worse….”

“Worse than the food trap?”

Out the door he scrambles. Back he comes with the dentist, Dr. L, who looks at the X-ray and exclaims: “Oh, my….”

The thing that’s got them gasping is a cavity that’s apparently the size of a small rodent, gnawing away at a tooth at the back of my mouth.

This cavity, they say, is a mystery. How it got there, they don’t know. There was no sign of it the last time I came in for a checkup. It’s like it emerged overnight.

“Can you think of anything that’s happened over the last few months?’ asks Tony.

You know, like the fucker’s my fault.

“Ugh, no,” I lie. “Not really….”

But, of course, it is my fault. It’s all that chocolate milk I’ve been drinking. One, sometimes two glasses a day. Can’t help myself. Life is so hard and chocolate milk is so soothing. Fill up a big old glass and knock it back. Gets me through the early afternoons of long dreary days. God, I love chocolate milk. Not quite as much as I love chicken. But almost….


Uhm, uhm, uhm — so good!

After Tony cleans my teeth, Dr. L breaks more bad news. There’s another cavity – not quite as big as a small rodent, but big enough — growing in a tooth on the other side of my mouth.

It’s going to take four – as in, four! – appointments over the next few months to fix those bastards.

Inside my mind, I see visions of Laurence Olivier as the evil dentist in Marathon Man and I hear the sounds of drilling and Dustin Hoffman howling.

Outside, I’m as cool as a cucumber.

I make the appointments and bike home. Sit at the kitchen table in misery at the thought of all that drilling.

Suddenly, I know just what to do.

I get a big old glass and fill it with chocolate milk. Knowing full well that this is the shit that did me in, I take one gulp and then another. Oh, god, is this good. Soon I’ve emptied the glass.

As I drink alone at my kitchen table, I ponder that age-old question: Why are so many of the good things in life so bad for you?

The paradox is so unsettling I myself pour another glass of chocolate milk. Can’t expect one man – afflicted with two cavities, no less – to solve one of life’s greatest mysteries without a little sustenance.

I take a long drink. Ah, delicious. Feel better already….

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