Today I am entering rehabilitation for my eating disorder, but I cannot help but notice that today marks a very special anniversary.
I don’t know when I will be back from recovery, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this story about the very same man who walks faithfully beside me in sickness…
November 3, 2001
Awesome. I have nothing to wear. What does one wear to a root canal anyway? Pft. It’s not like I’m trying to impress anybody. With that thought, I threw on an oversized, men’s corduroy button-up shirt, some old jeans, and tennis shoes, all of which were strewn about my bedroom floor. Running my fingers through my hair was the final touch on the day’s look. It’s a root canal, not the prom.
Walking into the dental office, the stormy morning had blasted wind and rain against my face, causing my hair to paste itself to my cheeks. “Hi, I’m here for my emergency root canal,” I informed the receptionist while trying to gracefully pull hair out of mouth.
I sat in the waiting room hoping the flutters in the pit of my stomach would settle and wishing I hadn’t made my appointment so early. An 8am appointment left no time for pre-root canal coffee.
Oh boy. My turn. “Yes. Hello,” I said to the dental assistant, forcing a smile and coating my sour attitude with faux sweetness. The combination of nerves and lack of coffee made me grumpy, not to mention the pain in my tooth.
“Come on back. How are you?” the assistant asked as we walked side by side to the operatory.
“Oh. Well. I am here for an emergency root canal, sooo, you know— I’ve had better mornings.”
The assistant smiled and directed me into the chair. “Here,” she handed me a pair of sunglasses. “Put these on to protect your eyes.”
I put them on. They took up half my face and reminded me of the goggles I used to wear in high school chemistry. Sexy.
The dentist came in and finished prepping me for the procedure, which included placing a rubber dam over my sick tooth. The excess part of the dam blanketed the other half of my face. The thought of my own mug shot—sunglass-goggles, white rubber dam, and my mouth gaping wide open—distracted me from the numbing sensation trickling throughout the right side of my face.
“How you doin’ Leanne? You ready?” she asked.
“Gngh. Ung-huh,” I said.
She must’ve deciphered I was good to go because the high-pitched squeal of the drill filled my ears followed by a vibration deep into my tooth.
After a few minutes the doctor stopped and left– leaving me to sit there vulnerable with my trap wide open.
That’s when he came in.
“Hi!” he said in a cheery tone.
His chipper greeting was clear evidence to me that he must’ve had his morning coffee. I was jealous. He wore light blue scrubs and had weird looking microscope glasses hanging around his neck. Who is this Chippy McChipperton?
“Hah.” I said, releasing the pent up drool that had built up under my tongue. I hoped he didn’t see it sliding down my chin.
“I’m the janitor,” he informed me.
Liar. Janitors don’t wear medical scrubs and microscope glasses. I eyed him curiously through the dark tint of my sunglass-goggles. Not sure who you are dude, but definitely not a janitor.
The dentist came back in and continued working on my tooth; obviously the cue for Liar Pants to leave. His presence lingered in my mind, though, and offered me mental distraction away from the demolition happening on my tooth.
Thirty minutes crawled by and my doctor up and left… again. This time she rested a metal thing in my mouth and halfway sitting upon my bottom lip. What is her deal? The tension in my jaw tightened as I glared at the ceiling, which made my neck muscles hurt. Weird things happen when your mouth hangs open forever.
Enter Liar Pants. Great. This guy again. I took in his facial features this time. He had big, soft eyes (the dark goggles made his eye color inconclusive), dark blonde hair, and a handsome young “baby face,” sort of like a high school senior portrait. He’s cute.
He wandered over to my dental chart and gave it a good scan. “Oh. You work at Bed Bath and Beyond?”
“Ung-huh,” I said. I knew he wasn’t a janitor! They aren’t allowed to look at charts!
“How long have you worked there?” he asked.
Seriously dude? Can you not see my mouth is occupied by a variety of dental apparatus? Clearly I cannot answer you… literally.
I held up four fingers, “ ‘oh ee-yuh.” More drool escaped down my chin. Ah geez. The dental assistant— the one person who hadn’t abandoned me the whole morning, wiped it for me.
“ ‘ank oo,” I said quietly.
“You’re welcome,” she said, smiling.
“Four years is a long time. Must be fun,” Liar Pants concluded. He smiled at me just before he disappeared again. I followed his movement out the room with my eyes.
The dentist came back to continue working, only to leave me again a short time later. Seriously? This is never going to end.
Right on cue, Liar Pants came in the room only to turn around and walk out.
I turned my head toward the dental assistant.
“Hoo ‘ah?” I asked her.
“Oh!” said the assistant excitedly, settling in close to my ear as if she were about to reveal a juicy secret. “That’s Dr. Sype. He just started here about six months ago.”
“Oooh-uuuh. He coo,” I said to her and gave her an obstructed coy grin. I also winked, but that was pointless given the fancy specs I was wearing.
I heard a shuffle behind me. My ears turned hot with embarrassment as I realized Dr. Sype had walked in just as I had made my confession. Oh geez.
He came around the chair and gave me a wide (and very handsome) grin. “I’m Andrew. Mind if I take a look at your tooth?”
Um. Do I have a choice? I am kind of trapped in this here chair with my mouth hanging wide open.
“ ‘hur,” I said, noticing he’d just introduced himself by his first name.
He poked around in my mouth with a metal instrument. Please don’t drool. Please don’t drool. Please don’t drool. I held my breath hoping that would keep the pool of building saliva from escaping down my chin.
“Looks good,” he said. “You’re almost done.”
“ ‘ank oo.”
Thank you? For what? Complimenting my sick tooth? Geez, Leanne. C’mon!
Finally the procedure came to an end. I removed my super cool sunglass-goggles and rubbed the sweaty indents that had formed on the bridge of my nose. Standing up, I felt a bit woozy and could tell my rain and wind-battered hair had matted nicely to the back of my head.
“You okay?” asked the assistant.
“Yeah. I’m alright.” I couldn’t feel the right side of my face and talking was hard. It felt like there was a golf ball shoved down the inside of my jawline. I rubbed my lower jaw just to make sure it was in fact normal size.
As I emerged from the dental operatory, I nearly smacked into Dr. Sype.
“Hi!” He said, grinning and looking at me with (what I could now clearly see) his beautiful blue eyes.
“Oh. Hello.” I think I smiled back, but I was uncertain since I could only feel half my lips. I reached up to the corner of my mouth to check. Yep! All smiles!
“Everything go okay for you?” he asked.
“Um. Yeah. You know. For a first root canal, I’d say the experience was okay.” Gah. Where is my mouth? Oh no! Are you drooling? Check! Check!
I raised my hand to tuck my hair behind my ear, giving the side of my chin a casual swipe on the way up. Whew! Dry. Okay. Fluff the back of your hair while you’re at it. I gave the back of my head a quick finger sweep, getting one of my rings stuck within a knotted tangle. Seriously? A fast and painful tug released my fingers from the mop atop my head. I smiled at him. Man he’s cute.
“Good. Glad it went well. Here’s my card in case you’d like to call.”
I accepted the card and gave it the obligatory glance, “Oh. Thanks.” My eye caught a faint scribble in the upper left hand corner. It was his home phone number written in pencil. There was a cool prickle over the surface of my skin and my heart jumped. Oh. Mah. Gah! Liar Pan… Dr. Sype just gave me his number?
Looking back up at him, he was staring at me with his smile. “Talk to you soon. Have a nice day!”
“Yeah. Cool. Thanks.”
The assistant, who was still by my side, gave me a grin.
“I cannot believe this,” I told her, bewilderment in my voice.
“What? I think he likes you,” she stated.
I carried his card with me the rest of the day, pondering the events of the morning. That evening when the feeling returned to my face, I paced in front of my telephone flipping the card around in my fingers.
What do I say? Do I call him Andrew or Dr. Sype? Is it too soon to call? How does this even work? Did I seriously pick up a guy during my root canal? How do I even start the conversation? ‘Hi. This is Leanne from this morning. You know, the one with drool sliding down my chin?’ Or how about ‘This is Leanne from the dental office. I was the one with rubber and plastic covering my entire face. Remember?’
Finally I mustered up one nerve and used it to dial his number.
Ring. Silence. Ring. Silence. Oh no! What if he isn’t home? Do I leave a message? Ring. Silence.
A mechanical voice sounded over the line: “Hi, you’ve reached Andrew…” Shoot! Don’t panic. Just hang up. NO! Don’t hang up. Leave a message. What do I—
“Oh hey, um, Andrew. This is Leanne…um… frooom… the dentist office this morning?” I paused and winced at myself, gripping the phone for dear life. “Just thought I’d give you a call and, um, say you know, hey. Feel free to call back.” I left my number and hung up the phone. No way is he ever going to call you back.
The next evening we had our first date.
August 21, 2004
Andrew and I faced each other, standing at the altar and exchanged wedding vows in front of over 100 friends and family. By 2008 we had two beautiful kids who, today, drive us completely crazy. I’ve since had two more root canals, but I don’t mind because I totally love my dentist!