Moan for the holidays

Did I ever mention that I hate holidays?

Not because I have anything against Christmas or the Fourth of July or George Washington's birthday. It's because things just don't work the way they should on holidays.

The stock market is closed, the mail isn't delivered, the networks say my favorite TV shows will return "after the holidays." Why on Earth do TV executives think I would enjoy watching a "holiday special," which looks exactly like last year's "holiday special," instead of watching my regular shows? Why would I not want to buy and sell stock on the Fourth of July? I enjoy it.

And it's not like everyone gets the day off. People who work in restaurants, hotels, amusement parks and gas stations don't get the day off. Police, firefighters, doctors, nurses and soldiers don't get the day off.

You know who gets the day off? My dentist, that's who.

I mention that because the Friday before the Fourth of July this year, I got this odd pain in my mouth. It just screamed, "you're gonna need a root canal!" The whole left side of my face had a toothache. I've been through this before, so I knew what was coming. I reached my dentist, Dr. Bob, at a quarter to 5 the Friday before the holiday weekend. Maybe he could squeeze me in the Tuesday after the holiday, I suggested. But no, he was taking that week off.



"Call my office on the 12th of July and see when they can fit you in," he said. Obviously he has never had an abscessed tooth. The pain will make you shake. There is no over-the-counter pill or even prescription drug that comes close to killing the pain. I called every other dentist in town. They were all taking the long weekend off, and many the following week. I knew, judging from all the golfing magazines in Dr. Bob's office, that he would be golfing somewhere that I can't afford for the entire week. And from all the boating magazines, I knew he'd be taking his yacht to get to the golf course, and from all the gourmet magazines, I even knew which champagne he would be drinking with his foie gras for dinner every night.

Me? I would not be eating anything that night, as every motion of my jaw was agony.

I slept with a bottle of ibuprofen and a pair of pliers on the nightstand that night. Once, I woke up and caught Sue trying to smother me with a pillow, yelling, "quit your constant whining." She says it never happened, that I was just having a bad dream. Funny, it seemed so real.

The next day, I called a place I found online that said they specialized in emergency dentistry: day or night, 24/7, every day of the year. Their voicemail said they'd get back to me "during regular business hours after the holiday," but to please leave a message. I did. It can't be printed here.

Finally, a dentist returned my call and said he could see me as soon as I could get to his office. He was wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, and there was a big bandage on his forehead. He said he'd been in a rollerblading accident. It seems his holiday weekend wasn't going so well, either. Do I really want this guy putting a drill in my mouth?

But at that point, I would have gone to a dentist who worked out of the backseat of his car. And this guy seemed to have all the right tools: the little cup you spit into, the blue paper bib, the X-ray machine, the beautiful assistant and all kinds of shiny, pointy instruments.

Never has novocaine felt so good. For the first time in days, I felt no pain. But I'm starting to dread Labor Day.

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