Evil Gal Productions

Mere Smith
is a recovering Southerner,
longtime TV writer,
author and blogger.
July 3rd, 2012 by Mere Smith



It was monstrous.

A crack I could feel to the top of my skull, to the back of my throat, so deep it rattled my spine.  A crack that shivered down through my hip bones and vibrated the bottom of my feet – like that cheap foot massager Mom never used after Mothers’ Day.

Being so young, I didn’t know to be hurt by its hiding place in the closet.

But this?

Oh the hurting was now, not hiding.  It was now now and time thinned out to infinity and I knew – at once, in the place where your body grasps first what your brain hasn’t – the CRACK would become my permanent passenger.  It would stay long after the foot massager, long after my being young, long after the infinity of the drop ceiling I stared at while it all happened.

Now I have CDs.  I have a small Ugly Doll I squeeze in my hand like a rope tethering my mind to the top of an ungodly-tall mountain.  I have “The Nose,” as Diane calls it.  I feel sick and woozy and stupid the entire day after, sometimes the next – and even then, none of it matters.  None of it matters because 25 years later, the CRACK is still with me.

“Stop crying,” he snapped.  “Don’t be a baby.  You shouldn’t be crying.”

I wanted to tell him I wasn’t – I wasn’t a baby – I wasn’t crying – that these tears were just trickling into my ears without permission.   But of course I said nothing.

The hissss of the machine and my chest compacted, shrank two sizes too small, like the Grinch.  I remember thinking, Why are you thinking about the Grinch when someone is killing you?  And then, why are you questioning what you’re thinking about when someone is killing you?

He reached back in, his grossly thick fingers prodding, stabbing.  They felt huge, like sausages, like hot dogs soaked in blood.  He touched the CRACK and I seized and knew I’d throw up soon.  I’d throw up or die.

I gagged, and disgusted, he yanked out his fingers.

“Stop it,” he demanded.  “Just stop.”

How many times was this?, I wondered.  Six?  Seven?  Was he even getting tired?

He put the metal inside me again, his knee on my chest.

“Once this is done, you’ll never have to do it again,” Mom had promised.

I’d only wanted to be beautiful.  So young, and I’d only wanted to be beautiful.  Staring at the ceiling, the bone of his knee where my breasts would be, I thought it couldn’t be worth it.

I still don’t know if it was worth it.

Afterward, he led me to my mother and bragged, “We got all eight teeth out.  A month to heal, and she’ll be ready for the braces.”

“Thank you!” Mom beamed, while gauze-stuffed I gazed down at her old, tired feet.

He added, “That last tooth was trouble, though.”


“It snapped off in her jaw,” he laughed.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me


47 Responses to “CRACK”
  1. Ooooouch. You’re making my teeth hurt. I despise the dentist and the orthodontist. You took me back there. Thanks. :-)

    • “Thanks”? Oh honey, we gotta get you some time off. No one should ever thank someone for a dentist story!

  2. All the phantom pain, non-phantom fear and serious dental angst I’m fearing now…I brought it all on myself, didn’t I?

  3. My lord you brought the horror of it all to life. What a sickening experience. Ellen

    • Thanks for responding viscerally, Ellen. I know it’s hard to “like” this one. I don’t even like reading it — for the obvious reasons.

  4. holy cow! I never saw that dentist coming! good job! stopping by via yeahwrite!

  5. They never use the foot massager.

    Why are dentists so mean? It is one of those cliches that turns out to be true so often we are all justified in repeating it. You have to have gall to be nasty to someone who could bite off your bloody little sausage fingers. (That imagery is going to haunt me.)

    • They never DO use the foot massager, do they? Poor little broken hearts… for about 15 seconds. I swear, kids are like goldfish.

      As for why dentists are so mean? I think it’s like being gay; I’m pretty sure dentists are just born dentists. And if I found out I was born a dentist, I’d be cranky for years.

  6. Holy good god and people wonder why dentists are so hated. *shivers*

    My dentists keeps calling…its time for a cleaning…I avoid his calls.

    And this is WHY.

    • I try to brush three times a day, so even when I have to go, they can’t make me come back for a filling. (Also, DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE! THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!)

  7. Dentistry is not my favorite indoor sport, either.

    • I can think of about 5,209 things I’d rather do indoors. And that includes dusting. Seriously. I’d rather dust.

  8. Ack! That was you in the next chair! I remember his breath, thinking JesusGod man you have all those tubes of toothpaste and your breath is like that! I had general anesthetic to have the extractions, much simpler; just all the clots and cautery smells to deal with after. No wonder dental anxiety is so hard to kick. Can’t we go back to make up or undergarments… Mere, can we?

    • Holy shit — I’d totally blanked out on his awful breath! (Thanks a lot, Carole.) And oh my god, I would have killed for general anesthesia. Hell, I would’ve killed for someone to knock me out with a blow to the head. Pistol-whipping? Sure! Overdose of Ambien? Bring it on! And yes, we’ll go back to undergarments soon, as long as they belong to Benedict Cumberbatch.

  9. Oh the dentist! I thought he was raping you from the description. But a vindictive dentist is still right up there with pretty bad. I can handle tooth pulling (but EIGHT??? You NEEDED some of those!!) I can’t handle all their vibrating tools.

    • Yeah, apparently my baby teeth weren’t dropping out fast enough for my orthodontist’s liking — so he conspired with the dentist to yank out EIGHT of them. My mom still has them in a plastic bag. It’s somehow sweet and entirely disgusting at the same time.

      And I don’t do vibrating tools. On my teeth.

  10. Friggin’ sadist. I had a similar experience, believe it or not. Not eight though, maybe 2? He said to my mother, you might not want to stay for this. To her credit she did. I hold a grudge against the entire profession. The horror.. Great buildup to the crux of the story!

    • Your mom is my new hero. Unfortunately my sadist wouldn’t let my mom back there. Probably for the best. Then he would’ve had to deal with my barf AND her barf. And thanks for the story compliment!

  11. Oh my God….You scared the shit out of me…especially since I have to take my son to get 4 teeth pulled next month…calling to cancel….

    • ::laugh:: Your son will probably most likely maybe definitely be fine. I don’t think dentists are allowed to hike their knees up on your chest anymore.

  12. I didn’t like dentists for a long time, partly because the dentist my sister went to when very young would slap his patients if they cried or didn’t ‘behave’. (I was lucky, mine was very good with kids.)

    Although I don’t look forward to going to the dentist, I don’t have anxiety attacks beforehand, thanks to some meditation work and a couple of good dentists (and in spite of a rather awful experience with my first wisdom tooth extraction, which I will not go into here.)

    • Your sister’s dentist slapped kids? Is that, like, a thing in Canada? ‘Cause I’ll take my overpriced non-universal healthcare in a hot second over being slapped by a fucking dentist. Talk about adding insult to injury! (And thanks for skipping the wisdom tooth story. Ever since I wrote this blog entry, my blood pressure’s been like 340/210.)

      • No, that was a thing in the early 50s, which they would never get away with today if they even tried. Even then it was frowned upon which is why I got to wait and go to the new young dentist who came to our town instead of having to take a train three hours (each way) to Prince Rupert!

        The dentist who took out my upper wisdom teeth said they needed to come out because my mouth was too small (which was true). They were done with just usual anaesthetic and no residual pain or swelling. I had to just about force my next dentist to take out my last one so that my crooked tooth would maybe straighten out a bit, which it did – also a pretty easy & painless extraction.

        • ::laugh:: I got the “Your mouth is too small” thing, too. Which cracks up pretty much everyone who’s ever met me. In addition, I’m thinking of becoming a Canadian citizen if I ever have to get another tooth pulled. “Painless extraction”? I’ll learn “O Canada!” if I have to.

          • Yeah, the “mouth is too small” is kind of a laugh for me. It’s like the look I get when I mention how shy I was for so many years! *eye roll*

            “O Canada!” is not hard to learn – English version at least. Definitely come and visit my dentist if you need any dental work. I highly recommend him – I believe his sister and brother are also very good. 😉

  13. Wow. That is all.

  14. ouch & ouch & ouch. this is why i haven’t been to the dentist since…er…Well. The last time I went she said something about “periodontal surgery” and that was that. I never went back & have no plans to do so. False teeth or gummy-grandma, that’s my future. And this story simply solidifies my resolve!

    • See, I went 180 degrees the other way. Even with the phobia, I now endure 3 cleanings a year to ensure that I’ll never have to have sharp-metallic-pokey things in my mouth ever again. If I ever get a cavity, they’re gonna have to use the Propofol.

  15. I can’t tell you how many teeth I had pulled as a kid. I can’t remember because I’ve blocked it all out. I didn’t have 8 at once, but more like 2 at a time more than twice. Plus permanent extraction of my first molars on the top. And my bottom wisdom teeth.

    It wasn’t horrific for me, though — I barely remember it. Great job with the telling!

    • I think every year, all the dentists get together at a convention and everybody brings a garbage bag full of the teeth they yanked. Whoever has the most wins, regardless of whether those teeth needed to be yanked or not. And I am really sorry about your extraction history — but OH what I wouldn’t give to not remember it. I am so jelly.

  16. THEY HAD TO PULL 8 TEETH?!???? holy hell i’m so sorry!

    • Ten in total — but (I guess?) I’m thankful they took the first two by themselves. Though I suppose that’s like saying, “Gee, I’m really glad they cut my fingers off before they took my arms!”

  17. Carissa says

    I was trying to think…you smashed your head on the baseboard in the closet? Who’s standing on your chest?? Dear God of COURSE it was the frakking dentist. There is no sadist worse than a dentist. WINNER!!

  18. Oh maaaaan. Ouch. Way to take me right back. I got braced when I was 15 and I also had TMJ disorder so my jaws throbbed like hell, all the time. My orthodontist (a seriously unhappy woman with a stick permanently up her nether regions) used to get so annoyed at me for complaining about how badly my jaw ached. Oh, I’m sorry that you are getting thousands of dollars out of this day’s work. I really hate to inconvenience you with my blood and painful cries. Please excuse the fuck out of me.

    • My mom has TMJ, and has suffered so much because of it — I am so sorry you went through that. As for your orthodontist, perhaps if she’d removed the dental instruments from her anus, she would’ve been nicer. Though what is it with teeth-professionals being annoyed that their patients are in pain? I mean, isn’t that why the patients are there to begin with? “No, we just dropped by to see that cheery smile of yours!” Schmuckballs.

  19. Very well written post. Also my teeth hurt now. Ow.

  20. Wow – I felt that. Great story!

    • Thanks, Michelle! Sorry it took me so long to reply; I was on a decidedly dentist-free vacation. Otherwise known as: the only kind of vacation there is.

  21. peridot2 says

    The dentist of my youth was of Italian extraction. He had extremely hairy hands, ate garlic at every meal and breath that would kill a komodo dragon at 30 paces. OTOH, he didn’t hurt me so I’m grateful for that.

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