A big sixth grade girl entered my class one morning with a note from the principal’s office. She handed it to my second grade teacher, Mrs. Carlisle, who read it quickly and then pointed toward me. “Pam,” she said. “Your mother’s waiting for you in the front office. Gina will take you there.”
I went with Gina, her golden blond ringlets springing against the base of her neck with every step. “So, I guess you’re having your teeth worked on,” she said. “It won’t hurt much. Gosh, my dentist adjusts my braces every month.” She showed me her choppers, rubbing a finger across the stainless steel wires and brackets.
Mother hadn’t said a word to me about a dentist since my last and only appointment, the one in which I bit the man in the long, white lab coat for trying to jab a needle through my gums. He had yelped and hollered loud enough for everyone in the waiting room to hear, including Mother. “Pam, don’t ever bite someone,” she had scolded on our way out the door. “And certainly, not a dentist. He needed to numb your tooth before drilling the cavity.”
“A dentist?” I asked Gina.
“Yep. That’s why your mother’s here.”
I gulped hard, entered the office behind her, and walked over to Mother standing near the front desk, talking to the secretary. She faced me and grinned. “Pammie, you and your sister have checkups this afternoon.”
Suddenly, I was dizzy.
“Your sister’s on her way. As soon as she’s here,” Mother said. “We’ll leave for your dental appointments.”
A few minutes later when my sister entered the office, Mother abruptly ended her conversation with the school secretary. “Girls, I know you’re nervous about seeing the dentist,” she said, overemphasizing the word dentist. She looked back at the secretary, “Gee, Robin and Pammie are afraid of a little dental appointment.” And then back at Robin and me, “There’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Going to the dentist isn’t a big deal.”
As soon as we were in the car, Mother stifled a laugh and snorted. “Pulled one over on them. Girls, don’t look so worried. We’re not going anywhere near a dentist’s office. Let’s head over to the bar. How about pizza at The Parrot? I think your granddad’s there. If he’s not, after some lunch, we’ll head across town to The Vagabond.”
Excerpt from JoyRide, Life, Death and Forgiveness, A Memoir
Copyright © 2013 by Pamela Koefoed.